Nakba, famine & genocide in Gaza – rise up for Palestinian freedom

By Darragh O’Dwyer

As the Israeli State’s genocidal war on Gaza nears its ninth month it continues to engender unimaginable horror: famine, systematic mass murder and a total destruction of human life’s most basic requirements – all aided and abetted by US and European imperialist powers.

Starvation as method of war

Harrowing images of emaciated children show the reality of starvation. Already 34 are estimated to have died of malnutrition or dehydration, and the UN’s Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) has reported that 495,000 Gazans are “facing catastrophic levels of acute food insecurity.” International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutors seeking arrest warrants for Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant accuse Israel of using starvation of civilians as a method of warfare. 

Official figures now put the death toll at 38,000, with a further 86,000 injured, but this is certainly an underestimate. Recently, Save the Children gave the harrowing figure that 21,000 children are missing, many buried beneath the rubble. Hospitals, schools and homes lie in ruins and according to UNRWA, 67% of water, sanitation and infrastructure facilities are destroyed or seriously damaged. Rebuilding Gaza to its already poor and crumbling pre-October 7th state would cost an estimated $42 billion, and take 16 years. The fabric of Palestinian society in Gaza is being shredded. 

Dispossession and dehumanisation 

In the Occupied West Bank since 7 October, over 500 Palestinans have been killed and close to 10,000 arrested in a new wave of intensified settler violence, dispossession and ethnic cleansing facilitated by Israeli security forces. Indeed, the Israeli occupying forces have recently transferred legal powers to civil servants working under pro-settler, far-right minister Bezalel Smotrich – a further step in the formal annexation of the West Bank. As Smotrich made clear in a recent speech: “My life’s mission is to thwart the establishment of a Palestinian state.”

Smotrich and his ilk are the most vociferous promoters of the widespread dehumanisation of the Palestinans. Perhaps the most striking manifestation of this can be seen in Israeli prisons. Reports detail the sadistic and humiliating treatment, with prisoners attacked by dogs, deprived of food and water, and forced to kiss the Israeli flag. In a letter written to Israel’s attorney general, a doctor highlights the nightmarish scenario in Sde Teiman field hospital: “Just this week, two prisoners had their legs amputated due to handcuff injuries, which unfortunately is a routine event.” 

Pressure mounts internationally 

As these horrors continue to unfold, so do the mobilisations around the world in solidarity with Palestinians. The radical student encampment movement that swept universities across the globe scored important victories in many places – notably here in Ireland in UCC, UCD and TCD, with pledges by the universities to begin processes of divestment. Last month, the Irish state, alongside Norway and Spain, announced that it would formally recognize a Palestinian state. Mass pressure from below was key to forcing the Irish government to make this statement. 

In the US, mass opposition to the Gaza genocide is reminiscent of the radical anti-Vietnam  War movement that rocked US capitalism in the late 60s and early 70s. While billions of dollars in military aid to Israel has enabled the genocide, the Biden administration feels the need to urge some form of restraint. On top of hoping to salvage a shred of his totally shattered credibility in an election year, they also recognise the degree to which the Israeli regime is becoming increasingly isolated. 

Netanyahu political crisis 

Yet the Netanyahu government has its own motives and interests, often acting against the wishes of its imperialist backers. The relationship between the US and its key strategic ally in the Middle East has become strained with several high-profile US diplomats resigning from their positions and Netanyahu publicly decrying a supposed slowdown in US weapon deliveries. 

Netanyahu also faces increased opposition within the Green Line. Tens of thousands marched in Tel Aviv to demand a ceasefire deal and the safe return of remaining hostages. While these demonstrations do not amount to a clear challenge to the occupation and national oppression of the Palestinians, and are dominated by Zionist chauvinistic moods and attitudes, they show the contradictions and splits opening up in Israeli society. Despite brutal repression, demonstrations in both Jewish and Arab-Palestinian towns within the Green Line have expressed clear opposition to the genocidal war and occupation.

Sharpening divisions within the ruling class have increasingly burst into the open. Last week, Netanyahu’s son publicly criticised the Israeli Military for “treason” in the run-up to October 7. And in a significant blow to the Prime Minister, top military spokesperson Daniel Hagari declared that Netanyahu’s stated aim of destroying Hamas is impossible: “Whoever thinks we can eliminate Hamas is wrong.” 

Revolutionary movement needed 

Palestinian freedom will only be won by overthrowing the racist Israeli State and the genocidal capitalist system it defends. The Palestinian masses themselves on both sides of the Green Line can be the force that begins a struggle to bring this about. Their traditions of struggle are a guide and inspiration. From the First Intifada – a mass uprising of workers, women and young people, to the heroic March of Return protests in 2018, to the 2021 Dignity Strike. These show that the building of a democratic mass movement is the best means to resist and strike blows against the Israeli capitalist state and its genocidal war machine.

The natural allies of this struggle are the working class and poor in the region and internationally. This has been amply demonstrated in the last number of months. Linking up with the working masses across North Africa and the Middle East is key to overthrowing the rotten capitalist Arab regimes that uphold the subjugation and oppression of the Palestinians. 

Also vital would be reaching out to the Israeli working class to join them in a struggle against a common enemy and to break with the toxic racist ideology of the Zionist State. Many Palestinians will be understandably sceptical of this possibility; however, the recent protests within the Green Line demanding a ceasefire, are a glimpse of what is possible. 

The system must go

Such a revolutionary transformation of the region can mean freedom for all from exploitation, oppression and genocide. A democratic socialist Middle East and North Africa would be a society in which the wealth and resources are seized from the exploitative corporations, banks, and the super-rich elite, ensuring they are publicly owned and democratically controlled by governments of the working class and poor.

A society based on the rule of the masses would mean freedom and justice for all. It could allow both Palestinians and Israeli Jews the equal and democratic right to self-determination and full equality for all national and religious minorities. 

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