In the last few days the masses in many parts of the Middle East have been pouring out onto the streets in protest against the murder of civilians in Iraq and Gaza. They have been coming out emboldened by the feeling that the killing machine of the occupying armies in Iraq and Gaza can be defeated. Yossi Schwartz, just returned from one of these protests in Rafah (Gaza) looks at the effects throughout the Middle East and in particular in Israel.

Tuesday's bomb attacks in Be'er Sheva could not have come at a better time for Sharon. He immediately used them to distract attention away from a few problems he was having at the beginning of the week. But why has Hamas suddenly returned to this kind of attack? Yossi Schwartz in Jerusalem explains.

We recently received this report, which shows how the Israeli state deals with anyone - even if they are Jewish - who dares to take up the plight of the Palestinians in the refugee camps in a serious manner. Tali Fahima is being held without any charges, with her arrest being extended continuously.

In spite of only having minority support in the Knesset, Sharon holds on to power. This is because both the left and the right continue to support him, for they cannot offer an alternative. That alternative can only come from the working class.

A general strike in the public sector in Israel has been called in protest against the non-payment of wages and the proposed 2005 budget cuts. The strike is affecting all government ministries, municipal authorities, state-owned companies and transportation, including the national airline El Al. Refuse collection workers, traffic wardens, dockworkers, railway, telecom, electricity and hospital workers are also involved. Once again, it reflects the serious class divide that is opening up in Israeli society.

This is the seventh day of “Operation Days of Penitence” that has killed at least 70 Palestinians, many of them women and children. This is the largest operation in the Gaza Strip in the four years since the beginning of this Intifada.

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