Gaza – protest is not terrorism!

Protesting against the Israeli government's attacks on Palestine, photo Paul Mattsson

Protesting against the Israeli government’s attacks on Palestine, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

  • For an independent inquiry into the killings
  • Solidarity with the Palestinian struggle
  • Lift the siege, end Israeli occupation
  • For a socialist solution to the national question

Walking in your own land is not generally considered a crime, but for two million Palestinians imprisoned in Gaza such action is viewed as a threat to the state of Israel by right-wing prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

His armed forces killed 18 Gazans and wounded over 1,500 on the Palestinian ‘March of Return’ walk to the Gaza/Israel border to mark Land Day (commemorating Palestinians killed on 30 March 1976 protesting against the expropriation of their land by Israel), and to demand the lifting of the current siege of Gaza by Israel and Egypt.

Most of the wounded were hit by live ammunition and others from rubber-coated bullets and tear gas grenades fired from circling drones. Hospitals in the Gaza Strip reported a shortage of blood units.

As usual, the propaganda machine of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) and Israel’s coalition government has blamed the border clash on “terrorism” orchestrated by Gaza’s Islamist Hamas regime.

Yet film footage shows desperate and angry Palestinian civilians being shot as they fled the carnage, including 18-year-old Abd al-Fattah shot in the back of the head by an IDF sniper.

“The world must understand that we live in a big prison, every citizen in Gaza feels it in his own flesh and wants to convey this message”, one member of the organising committee told Haaretz newspaper.

“The march is for the sake of return, it is supposed to convey to the world a message: ‘Enough with the siege, enough with the occupation'”, he explained in response to Israel’s claim that Hamas was forced to “hire” demonstrators for payment.

The protest rallies did not threaten the security of anyone. But the Israeli government propaganda machine typically turns the reality upside down and labels any Palestinian protest as “violent”. In other words, daily military aggression and a siege that strangles two million people are not considered violent, but mass protest against their situation is!

Socialist Struggle Movement (the Socialist Party’s sister organisation in Israel/Palestine) calls for protests against the incitement, oppression and massacre of unarmed demonstrators, and to express solidarity with the mass march against the background of the brutal siege imposed on Palestinians.

The incitement, demonisation and war against unarmed civilians by the IDF and Netanyahu’s government is intended to deter Palestinians from fighting for their rights by drowning their protests in blood.

It is also intended to throw sand in the eyes of Jewish workers and young people and turn them against the Palestinians’ struggle for a dignified life.

For Netanyahu in particular, the ‘war on protest’ provides another opportunity to ramp up security fears among the Israeli public in order to divert their attention from allegations of corruption against him, and his government’s huge failures.

Moreover, the massacre of Palestinian demonstrators and the continuation of the siege and occupation of Palestinian territories not only removes any prospect for peace, but could also lead to a general escalation in violence in which Israeli civilians will also be harmed.

Therefore it is vital that Israeli workers and young people express their opposition and protest against the bloody policy of the Netanyahu government.

While Netanyahu’s government is organising celebrations to mark Israel’s 70th anniversary – and, in effect, mobilising nationalism – the rights of the Palestinian refugees and the rights of Palestinians in general continue to be trampled on daily.

Almost every week, Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip come to the fence with Israel, mostly seeking refuge from the deteriorating situation – even preferring to be imprisoned in Israel. At the same time, frequent demonstrations and confrontations are taking place along the Gaza Strip border.

The heavy military repression is aimed at thwarting the expansion of the protest movement which threatens the occupation regime. The further mobilisation of tens and even hundreds of thousands could really enable a mass protest outbreak through the siege fences of the Gaza Strip.

On 15 May, ‘Nakba’ Day – or ‘catastrophe’, marking the systematic destruction of hundreds of Palestinian villages and the forceful uprooting of over 750,000 Palestinians in 1948 – the demonstrations are scheduled to peak in the ‘One Million March’.

This scenario not only creates fear in the Israeli government fears but also within Hamas. It is concerned that an independent mass struggle will slip from its hands, and show that the Palestinian masses can do what the military power of Hamas is not really capable of: actually threaten the siege and occupation.

Socialists support the Palestinian protest, as part of the struggle against the occupation and for peace and socialist change.

This protest needs international solidarity. First and foremost among Israeli workers and young people who understand that Netanyahu’s government of big business and Israeli settlements represents the deepest danger also to their own security.

But, while fighting now to end repression and win democratic and social demands, a broader alternative needs to be offered – a socialist alternative. One which would guarantee equal rights and living standards for Palestinians and Israelis beyond anything that is capable under capitalism.