England, Wales and Scotland section of International Socialist Alternative

Stop Israeli state terror on Gaza! Attacking hospitals is barbarism, not self-defence!

For working class action and solidarity with healthcare workers and patients in Gaza!

The massive revenge aggression led by the Israeli state against millions of besieged and impoverished Palestinians has seen another severe escalation with the brutal raid on the Al-Shifa hospital in the north of the strip (15 November). According to reports a whole building of the hospital was destroyed, including storage of medicine; hundreds were stripped and interrogated. 

Unfolding catastrophe 

Located in the north, Al-Shifa is the largest hospital in the besieged enclave. It was one of the few hospitals that were partially operating in the region. The Israeli military had invaded by land, encircled the city of Gaza, and brutally raided the most heavily populated area. Al-Quds, the second biggest hospital in the strip, also located in the north, has been forced to shut down days ago as it ran out of fuel. Medical staff in Al-Shifa hospital warned that the hospital was running out of fuel many days ago, and finally announced it must stop the operation of incubators – putting 39 premature babies in severe danger. At least four have tragically died since. 

Under increasing horrors of the land invasion, 100,000 Palestinians fled the north of the strip to the south last week. Pictures of carriages pulled by donkeys, families carrying their belongings and white flags depict those who were able to escape, while “safe” passages were far from safe – roads and convoys continued to be bombed and shot at. 

Nowhere is safe

One must only wonder what fate awaits those who managed to escape – in an overflowing southern region, where hundreds of thousands of people are crammed in small spaces in schools and hospitals for shelter, without clean drinking water, food or medicine, and humanitarian aid is threatened to be shut down due to fuel shortages. On Thursday 16 November, residents of Khan Younis located in the south of Gaza, were ordered to ‘evacuate’ by the Israeli army. Nowhere is safe in Gaza. 

The lack of electricity also means sewage pumps are not working which poses the danger of diseases and new epidemics. Infection, illness and malnutrition are added to the dangers of the bombardments, which have already taken the lives of over 11,000 people – about two thirds of which are women and children. The real numbers are expected to be significantly higher and haven’t been fully updated for days due to the complete collapse of the healthcare system and the cutting off of telecommunications. 

Brutal escalation

In the morning of the raid thousands of healthcare workers, patients and displaced civilians were trapped in the hospital as the Israeli military closed in on the building. Health workers described how snipers were shooting at every movement. The Israeli military justifies the raid on the hospital saying that Hamas hides arms in the building. Irrespective of whether this is true or not, it must not be an excuse to attack a hospital. This is a prime example of the way in which the well-oiled propaganda machine regularly tries to dehumanise and justify the conscious bombing of residential areas and buildings, hospitals and schools, in one of the most densely populated, poorest regions on the planet.

This horrific onslaught on Gaza broke out in the context of severe and brutal escalation in the extreme national oppression, creeping ethnic cleansing and brutal settler and state violence against the Palestinian people. Overshadowed by the horrors in Gaza, settlers and military forces have been increasing violence in the occupied West Bank. More than 190 Palestinians in the West Bank have been killed in these six weeks, almost as many as in the first 9 months of the year. 

Revenge bloodbath

The trigger for the bloodiest six weeks in the history of the Palestinian people was the brutal and indiscriminate attack by Hamas forces. This attack resulted in the brutal killing of 1,200 Israelis in the south of Israel – mainly civilians, including women and children from all backgrounds; Jewish-Israelis, Arab-Palestinians and migrant workers, and taking 240 hostages. Many ordinary Israelis are facing shock and grief. The Israeli government, while seen by the vast majority of the Israeli population as responsible, promotes genocidal language of revenge and dehumanisation. Haaretz reported a growing trend of Israeli soldiers proudly recording themselves conducting arbitrary abuse towards Palestinians since 7 October, indicating the ‘legitimising’ of retaliation without any consequences. 

The revenge bloodbath on millions of besieged and impoverished Palestinians, is taking place while the Israeli government cynically uses the massacres against Israeli civilians to foster the lie that the onslaught on Gaza is done for ‘self-defence’. Our sister organisation in Israel-Palestine, Socialist Struggle Movement, argues that there can be no peace nor security and safety for neither Jews and Palestinians in the context of capitalism and imperialism; not least under the current status quo of occupation, siege, dispossession and the denial of most basic rights from the Palestinian people, including the right for self-determination. 

The onslaught on Gaza sends the whole region into threat of escalation and regional war  which would primarily come at the expense of the poor, workers, women and children.

Build the mass movement against the atrocities in Gaza

Socialist Alternative stands in solidarity with the friends and families of thousands of people who have been killed in these atrocious massacres on both sides of the fence. We stand in solidarity with the millions in Gaza who face inhumane living conditions, bombardment and all horrors of war. We demand an immediate ceasefire, an end to the war, siege and occupation and a full prisoner and abductees exchange.

In order to push for an end to the horrors, there is a need for a mass movement across the region and elsewhere. Over the last few days millions have marched the streets across the world for a ceasefire, from 800,000 in London, to 50,000 in Paris. Over the last weeks millions protested in the Middle East and North Africa – in Morocco, Iran, Egypt and Jordan and many other locations across the region. The pressure of the movement has already pushed Macron, the president of France, to call for a ceasefire. Most recently the Foreign Minister of Jordan announced Jordan won’t sign an energy and water exchange deal with Israel that was planned to be ratified last month, saying “the peace deal will have to remain on the back burner gathering dust for now”.

Transport trade unions in Belgium called for workers to refuse handling military shipments to Israel until the end of the war. Dock workers in Barcelona and Italy refuse to service ships and handle arms bound to Israel, calling for an immediate ceasefire. These need to be widened out across the trade union movement into weapon production and all industries linked with the onslaught on Gaza and the occupation. There have been many other actions of trade unionists and activists blocking ports and factories complicit in the war machine; from Oakland to Melbourne to Kent, Britain. The mass protests, strikes and solidarity statements of Trade Unions and workers across the world show the way forward – the mighty power of the masses can halt the atrocities of this barbarism.

We demand:

Stop the raid on Al-Shifa! End all attacks on hospitals, schools and residential buildings! For an immediate ceasefire and renewal of water, energy, fuel, medicine and food supplies. End the brutal siege on Gaza! 

End the massacre! Immediate and full prisoner – abductee exchange and an end to the brutal revenge war on Gaza.

Solidarity with healthcare workers in Gaza! Since 7 October, almost 200 healthcare workers have been killed by the bombardments in Gaza. The healthcare system in the strip is on its knees. Healthcare workers and hospital staff trade unions across Britain and elsewhere should call for an immediate ceasefire, and massive aid for medicine, equipment and medical personnel.

We won’t be silenced by threats of victimisation! Trade unions across the world should actively join and mobilise their members for the call for a ceasefire and join workers’ action to disrupt the war machine. Expand universities, train station occupations and school walkouts across Britain. Workers and student unions should fight back against any suspension of people daring to speak out. 

For a mass movement in the region and internationally, including mass marches and strikes. For the formation of democratic struggle committees in the spirit of the first Intifada and the dignity strike of 2021. For an end to the siege, occupation and the extreme national oppression of the Palestinian people. For fundamental, socialist change in the region that can offer equality, well-being, the right of self-determination, and genuine peace for all working people, poor and youth from all national communities.


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