In the past few days, one of the worst raids by the Israeli army has been underway, first in the West Bank, particularly in the city of Jenin, which Israeli Prime Minister B. Netanyahu has described as “safe haven for terrorists”, and then in the Gaza Strip.
At least 12 people were killed in the raid on the Jenin refugee camp, and at least a hundred were arrested. Some 3,000 residents of the camp had to flee and are temporarily housed in schools in Jenin and elsewhere.
At the same time, there are reports that ambulances have been obstructed in their attempt to reach and pick up injured people.
The raid in Jenin is considered one of the worst in recent years. At the same time, as the Israeli army withdrew from the West Bank, the offensive in the Gaza Strip began.
On the other hand, the July 4 attack in Tel Aviv, in which at least nine Israeli civilians were wounded and the Palestinian driver was killed, was hailed by Hamas as a “heroic response” to the Israeli army’s raid on Jenin.
The Jenin refugee camp
At least 14,000 Palestinians are estimated to be living in the Jenin refugee camp in extremely harsh conditions. The camp was established in 1953 to accommodate displaced Palestinians who were driven from their areas during the creation of the State of Israel in 1948. Today, the children and grandchildren of those first refugees continue to live in poverty and unemployment, with movement restrictions imposed by the Israeli army and the constant threat of a further escalation of violence.
Judicial “reform” and resistance to Netanyahu
The recent events occur at a particular time in Israel. On the one hand, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has been recently (December 2022) re-elected, on the other he is facing one of the most important anti-government protest movements of the last decades against the judicial reform he is trying to push through.
Among other things, this reform strengthens the grip of the government over the judiciary, with the aim to push forward laws that would otherwise be “frozen” without the approval of the Supreme Court.
On July 5th, the resignation of the Tel Aviv Police Chief was announced. He complained that he was under pressure from the government to step up the repression of the movement.
Trade unions and broad sections of society have opposed Netanyahu, and have been on the streets for months against the government’s plans.
The recent raid on the West Bank has led to demonstrations of solidarity with the Palestinian people by Israeli workers and youth in Haifa and Tel Aviv. In the first case, police arrested protesters who refused to stop waving Palestinian flags.
The Palestinian leadership
In these circumstances, the absence of a leadership that could lead the Palestinian struggle forward is more than evident.
The Palestinian Authority (PA), the Palestinian government based in the West Bank, is mired in corruption and has made striving for compromise with imperialists its main policy. Netanyahu himself has recently “explained” what its real role is by saying:
“We need the Palestinian Authority. We cannot allow it to collapse. We also don’t want it to collapse. We are ready to help it financially”… “We have an interest in the PA continuing to function. In the areas in which it succeeds in functioning, it does the work for us and we have not interest in it collapsing.”
In the current crisis, the Palestinian Authority has been content to urge Palestinians to “cease contacts” with the Israeli side to protest against the Israeli army’s aggression.
However, what could really give a boost to the Palestinian struggle and just demands would be to address Israeli society, particularly the sections which have been protesting against Netanyahu for months, and to call on the trade unions and the rank and file of Israeli workers to organise solidarity mobilizations with the residents of the West Bank. Breaking ties with “the other side” offers no way out.
On the other hand, organisations such as Hamas, which dominates the Gaza Strip, playing on the reasonable anger of the Palestinians, continue to propose and apply the methods of individual terrorism as the answer to the violence and discrimination they experience.
In reality, this method, apart from the fact that it is directed primarily against Israeli civilians, has nothing to offer to the Palestinian struggle. It only offers the far-right government of Israel more excuses to continue doing what it has always done: murdering, displacing, oppressing Palestinians, riding on the rhetoric of ‘the need to stop terrorists’.
Need for common struggle
Ordinary Israelis and Palestinians naturally want to live in peace. So, why is the area in a constant deadlock between open warfare and endless tensions? Its because the Israeli ruling class, with the backing of Western imperialists, wants to impose its domination on the Palestinian people and strip them of even the most basic democratic, national and human rights. And also because the Palestinian ruling elite, backed by the Arab capitalist regimes in the region, is more interested in keeping its privileges than in providing real leadership to the Palestinian masses against the Israeli occupation.
What is the only force that could break this deadlock? It is the Israeli and Palestinian working class, which, if united under a common struggle for a dignified, prosperous and peaceful coexistence, can put an end to the practices of the ruling elites on of all sides.
The last few months have shown that a large part of Israel’s youth and workers are not loyal to their government and that they are prepared to wage significant struggles against its attempt to consolidate its position and powers. The relatively small but significant numbers of Israelis demonstrating these days against the raid on the West Bank showcase that common struggles between Israelis and Palestinians can develop against the occupation, discrimination and extreme oppression that the latter have experienced for decades, but also for decent wages, working conditions, education and health care, democratic rights and freedoms for all. As difficult and distant as it may seem, this is the only way to a common peaceful future for the peoples of the region.