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The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Israel continues to pound Gaza!

by our Arab Affairs correspondent

ISRAELI WARPLANES continue to pound Gaza as the Zionist offensive against the Palestinians enters its second week. Hamas and the other resistance movements are maintaining a barrage of rockets on Tel Aviv and other parts of southern Israel, and the entire Palestinian community from the occupied West Bank to the “Israeli Arab” minority in Israel came together to take part in a one-day general strike to protest against the brutal occupation and the Gaza bombardment.

Hamas is now targeting Israel’s nuclear plant in Dimona and its off-shore natural gas platforms in the Mediterranean. The Israelis say that none of Hamas’ home-made missiles have reached their targets and they claim they sank a Hamas robot submarine and knocked out the operating team in the Gaza Strip. But a huge fire broke out at a natural gas rig off the coast of Haifa on Monday evening. The Israelis say a torch was releasing gas and that the fire was caused by a “technical malfunction”. Maybe, maybe not.

Clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli forces are continuing throughout the West Bank. Eleven Palestinians were shot dead in confrontations with Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank last week. More were killed when Israeli troops opened fire on protesters during the general strike on Tuesday and six Israeli policemen were hospitalised when a car rammed an Israeli road-block in occupied Jerusalem on Sunday. The Palestinian driver was shot dead.

Meanwhile dock workers in the Italian port of Livorno are refusing to load a shipment of weapons and explosives after discovering it was destined for the Israeli port of Ashdod. The dockers’ union said: “The port of Livorno will not be an accomplice in the massacre of the Palestinian people.”

On the diplomatic front the Americans are continuing to block calls at the United Nations for an immediate cease-fire. People’s China has offered to host peace talks and the Russians are calling for the reconvening of the ‘Quartet’ – a group of mediators from Russia, the USA, the UN and the European Union – whose past attempts to construct a ‘road-map” to resolve the Palestine problem were sabotaged by US imperialism.

At least 217 Palestinians, including 63 children, have been killed in Gaza since the attacks began. About 1,500 Palestinians have been wounded. Twelve people in Israel have died, including two children, whilst at least 300 have been wounded.

Inside Israel, peace groups and communists have called for calm after a week of unprecedented scenes of violence between Zionist mobs and the Palestinians that the government call “Israeli Arabs”. But far-right Zionist premier Benjamin Netanyahu is preparing to restore fascist measures against their own Arab citizens to quell the violence that is now spreading throughout Israel by sending the army into mixed cities and interning Arabs without trial – what the Zionists call “administrative detention”.

Mohammed Barakeh, the Chair of the High Follow-up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel, has called on the international community to intercede in internal Israeli matters to defend Arab-Palestinian citizens, as violence continues to flare up across the country. Barakeh, a leading member of the Communist Party of Israel and a former MP in the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, said the international community must “intervene immediately to protect the security and human rights of our community”.

“In recent days, Palestinian citizens of Israel (PCI) have been victims of intense violence at the hands of the Israeli police and extreme right-wing Israeli citizens, vigilante groups, including settlers,” he said. “We urge you to intervene immediately to protect our community from violent attacks and human rights violations by both state and private actors, and we ask that you use all measures to compel Israel to take immediate steps to protect PCIs and to stop the violence against them.”