Israel: Likud's rejection of Sharon's withdrawal from Gaza

As we predicted so many times over the last few months, Sharon’s “disengagement" plan from Gaza is leading us directly to hell. The plan was supposed to lead to a troop withdrawal from most of Gaza and the removal of all 21 settlements while at the same time annexing large territories in the West Bank. It was never a step towards general withdrawal. In reality it was a manoeuvre to steal even more land from the Palestinians. As soon as it was clear that the withdrawal plan had been rejected by Sharon's own Likud party, the Israeli army intensified its attacks on the West Bank and Gaza.

As we predicted so many times over the last few months, Sharon’s “disengagement" plan from Gaza is leading us directly to hell. The plan was supposed to lead to a troop withdrawal from most of Gaza and the removal of all 21 settlements while at the same time annexing large territories in the West Bank. It was never a step towards general withdrawal. In reality it was a manoeuvre to steal even more land from the Palestinians. As soon as it was clear that the withdrawal plan had been rejected by Sharon's own Likud party, the Israeli army intensified its attacks on the West Bank and Gaza.

On Saturday evening, May 1, 2004, the Israeli occupying forces killed a Palestinian child and injured nine other civilians, including five children in the Khan Yunis refugee camp. According to eyewitnesses, this was in spite of the fact that no threat had been posed to the lives of Israeli soldiers.

At approximately 6pm, Israeli occupying forces, reinforced by heavy military vehicles, moved into the Khan Yunis refugee camp. Israeli forces opened fire at a number of Palestinian children near the al-Shaf'ei mosque, approximately 150 meters away, injuring three of them. One of the injured children, Hussein Sa'id 'Abdullah Abu 'Aker, aged eight, died shortly afterwards having been rushed to hospital. He was hit by two live bullets in the abdomen and the arm. Israeli forces continued to fire on the area, injuring seven other civilians, including three children. One of these children, Mohammed Tawfiq Abu Than, aged 15, was seriously injured by a live bullet in the abdomen. According to medical sources at Nasser Hospital, which received the injured from this incident, most injuries were in the upper part of the body.

These acts of state terror inflicted on poor Palestinian people then provoked the usual response that we have become accustomed to. The same day, in the afternoon, a pregnant settler woman by the name of Tali Hatuel and her four young daughters from the Katif settlement were killed on the Kissufim road in an act of individual terror. The family was planning to work at a Likud precinct to try to persuade party members to vote against Ariel Sharon's disengagement plan. This act of terror as usual played into the hands of Sharon, who used it to justify further his repressive measures.

On May 3, Israeli helicopter gun-ships launched three missiles at offices of the local al-Aqsa broadcasting station ‑ believed to be close to Hamas ‑ which are located on the top floor of an apartment building in the centre of Gaza City. This attack came in the context of a series of attacks launched by the Israeli occupying forces against journalists and media institutions in the 1967 occupied territories. Since the beginning of the current Intifada in September 2000, Israeli occupying forces have killed 8 journalists, both Palestinian and international, and have injured 16 others. Anyone who knows the way the Israeli propaganda machine operates would have been aware that Israel was preparing some new atrocities and that foreign journalists not trusted by the Israeli government would not be able to fully investigate and report on what was happening.

On Tuesday morning, May 4, the Israeli army killed two Palestinians, including a child, and injured 24 others, including two children, in the Khan Yunis refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip. At approximately 11.15pm on Monday, May 3, Israeli occupying forces, reinforced by heavy military vehicles and three helicopters, moved into the al-Sad al-Aali area in the Khan Yunis refugee camp. Under the cover of intense shelling, they began demolishing Palestinian homes. By 5am the next day, Israeli forces had completely demolished 34 houses and partially destroyed 8 others. As a consequence, 299 Palestinian refugees (48 families) have become homeless. According to eyewitnesses, the families escaped from their homes without having been able to vacate their belongings when Israeli occupying forces attacked the area. Israeli forces also destroyed the fence of an UNRWA elementary school.

On May 11, Israeli forces killed 5 Palestinians, including 2 children, and injured at least 80 others, including 17 children, in the al-Zaytoun neighbourhood in the south of Gaza City. At approximately 12.50 am (just after midnight) Israeli forces moved into the al-Zaytoun neighbourhood in the south of Gaza City. Soon, more reinforcements, including helicopters and undercover units, were brought to the area. Israeli troops seized control of the neighbourhood.

However, the Israeli army is facing fierce resistance. On Tuesday, May 11, six Israeli soldiers were killed when a bomb ripped apart the armoured personnel carrier in which they were travelling through the Zaytoun neighbourhood of Gaza City.

The body parts of the soldiers were taken away from al-Zaytoun to be used as bargaining chips to reinforce demands that Israel should end its raids into the Gaza Strip and release Palestinians from its jails. Later, according to Palestinian sources, Palestinian resistance fighters agreed with foreign mediators to hand over the body parts of Tuesday's six dead Israeli soldiers if Israeli troops pulled out of Gaza City.

Since the Palestinians do not hold important figures, such as the drug dealer Elhanan Tenenboum, a friend of Sharon, the Israeli government refused the offer and Sharon has vowed, to keep his forces in place until the soldiers' remains are turned over. Today, Wednesday, May 12, troops, tanks and aircraft are involved in the ongoing invasion which Israel suggested was aimed at punishing the perpetrators of Tuesday morning's resistance attack.

The number of casualties is expected to rise as fighting rages on and ambulances continue to ferry victims to hospitals. Aljazeera's correspondent reported that Israeli helicopters were flying overhead while tanks in the Netzarim settlement had opened fire at Palestinian citizens.

Israeli occupation soldiers took up positions on rooftops at al-Zaytoun, shooting at everything and everyone that moved, the correspondent said. They are, however, facing stiff resistance. As result, six soldiers died when their armoured vehicle was torn apart after troops and tanks backed by helicopter gunships stormed the teeming al-Zaitun neighbourhood.

The military wing of the Hamas resistance movement claimed responsibility for the operation.

Locals said fierce battles erupted in the early hours when troops sped into the quarter in jeeps, civilian taxis and tanks and forced their way into numerous buildings to set up rooftop observation posts.

An army spokesman confirmed troops had used explosives to force entry into several buildings in a move to surround homes belonging to Hamas and Islamic Jihad resistance fighters.

Following the attack, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon vowed Israel would seek out and strike at Palestinians who resisted the occupation "wherever" they hide.

Israel's foreign minister Silvan Shalom called for the removal of Palestinian president Yasir Arafat from his headquarters in Ram Allah.

He said there would be no "moderate Palestinian leadership" as long as Arafat remained in place.

The real aim of this war is not to protect the Israeli masses as the government claim but to terrorize the people of Gaza to submit to Sharon’s plan.

Thus, Sharon’s policies exacted a heavy toll in blood of Palestinians and Israeli soldiers. This war on the people of Gaza is an inseparable part of the war being waged between the rulers of Israel and the Palestinians struggling for their liberation.

This is a war in which state terrorists shoot at houses and kill civilians and children. The struggle of the people in Gaza is the same struggle of the Iraqi people fighting against the imperialists.

The problem is that there is no revolutionary Marxist leadership in the struggle against the occupation. A leadership that can turn to the Israeli masses in the factories and to the solders to tell them: “We are fighting not against you, but against the bankers, the owners of the factories and their government. Our goal is to transform society and make it a society of the workers and the masses - both Palestinians and Israelis. Instead the program of Hamas, that of a religious Islamic regime and its tactics of individual terrorism has pushed the Israelis into the hands of the reactionaries.

On the other side this Saturday a demonstration by the so-called opposition of the Zionist left will be held at Rabin Square. All week long there has been a scuffle among Shimon Peres' office (which is organizing the rally), the "Geneva HQ", and Peace Now: Peres wants to be the sole political speaker and to draw the event toward support for a Gaza withdrawal; Beilin and his cohorts want to push the negotiations angle; and Peace Now is concentrating on the damages of the settlements. The real argument, says Professor Avishai Margalit, one of the founders of Peace Now, is basically about who will speak at 8:00 P.M., when the demonstration will be broadcast live on television.

The leadership of all these organizations would love to be part of a right-center-“left”, government with Sharon in the center, but without the Likud. Such a government would lead us to the same place we are now - hell!

Israel out of all the occupied territories now!

Not a war of nation against nation but of class against class.

For a Socialist Federation of the Middle East!