Pogroms and massacres: Israeli State ratchets up the oppression of Palestinians

Editorial from the latest issues of The Socialist 

On 26 February, an estimated 400 Israeli colonial settlers launched a brutal raid on the town of Huwara, in the Occupied West Bank. Armed with guns, clubs, iron chains and fuel containers, they mounted an attempted pogrom on its Palestinian residents with cars and homes being torched. 

At best the Israeli “Defence” Force (IDF) turned a blind eye to this action. In the aftermath of the attack, chair of the National Security Commission Zvi Fogel went on IDF radio praising this pogrom saying he was “pleased with [this] deterrence”. Fogel is a member of the far-right Jewish Power and a key coalition partner of Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s Prime Minister.

Record death toll

The Israeli army and settlers have killed 61 Palestinians so far this year. In the week running up to the attack, the IDF launched a raid on the Palestinian town of Nablus, in the Occupied West Bank murdering 11 Palestinians, including three elderly people and a minor. This is the second such attack in 2023, the first being the massacre in the Jenin refugee camp. 

This attack was met with a general strike in the Occupied West Bank, along with mass protests. This resulted in the shutting down of shops, transport, the communication sector, schools, universities, banks and exchange offices. The teachers’ union called on workers to join the strike and called for “marches and rage on every street and in every neighbourhood to protest the death of the martyrs…”

This same union had been on strike in the preceding three weeks demanding union recognition and higher wages from the Palestinian Authority (PA). The PA is a corrupt and collaborationist regime installed by the Israeli State to do its dirty work of keeping down Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation and expanding settlements.

A new generation 

The recent strikes and protests, along with those that took place in May 2021 (when the Israeli State launched another murderous assault on Gaza), show that a new generation of Palestinians is willing to engage in mass resistance to Israeli rule. Socialist Struggle Movement (SSM, our sister organisation in Palestine-Israel) advocates that such a struggle should be organised through democratic councils of struggle from below. It should also be based on organised and armed self-defence to resist the terror of the IDF and settlers.

The recent round of bloodletting by the Netanyahu government happened against the backdrop of an unprecedented protest movement within Israel itself, against plans to centralise power in the hands of his government at the expense of the Israeli’s State Supreme Court. This court has never defended the interests of the Palestinian people, or ordinary Israelis for that matter.

However, the new government, made up of various ultra-orthodox and ultra-nationalist parties, sees it as a barrier to pushing through its policies such as attacking LGBTQ rights, and those of refugees and the further annexation of Palestinian land. The judicial “reform” is seen as an attack on democratic rights. 

Mass protests 

Hundreds of thousands have participated in the protests and have faced repression from Israel’s police force. Different sections of workers have taken initiatives, including medical personnel, social workers, teachers, and others, and in doing so have bypassed their union leaderships. Pride flags and feminist placards appeared on the protests expressing revulsion at the far right. A minority of Palestinians participated, including left activists in Haifa. In the solidarity protests following Huwara, a fresh section from the movement attended, and in Tel Aviv protesters shouted “where have you been during Huwara?” at the police. 

The protests are currently led by the leaders of Israel’s capitalist (supposedly liberal) opposition, who themselves are complicit in the oppression of Palestinians and furthering settlements and the occupation. SSM has argued that this movement needs to be independent of the capitalist forces and must take up demands opposing the occupation and for the rights of Palestinians generally. 

The widespread waving of Israeli flags, intended as a reply to Netanyahu’s attempts to delegitimise the movement, not only represents a mistaken form of national unity with tycoons but also to an extent a denial of Palestinians’ national rights. The working class and oppressed within Israeli society, however, have no vested interest in maintaining Palestinians’ oppression and should break with the Israeli ruling classes’ Zionist chauvinism.

This could be the basis to overthrow the rule of the Israeli capitalist regime, and their underlings in the PA. A mass revolutionary struggle for Palestinian national liberation and socialism could win over the Israeli working class to this struggle, and a democratic and just solution could be achieved where the rights of both nationalities could be upheld. On this basis an independent socialist Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, alongside a democratic socialist Israel, with free and open borders and the rights of minorities guaranteed, could come into existence.

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