England, Wales and Scotland section of International Socialist Alternative

End the genocidal onslaught in Gaza! Step up protests and workers’ action to stop the war machine

By a Socialist Alternative National Committee member

This was written in mid February for the March issue of our paper, Socialist Alternative. If you’d be interested in getting a copy, click here

Five months since the genocidal onslaught in Gaza began, official numbers reached over 29,000 massacred, including over 12,000 children. More than 90% of the population is displaced. According to Oxfam, more people are killed daily in Gaza than any other military attacks in the 21st century.

The extent of the atrocities include mass starvation, denial of access to water and medicine, systematic attacks on hospitals and outbreaks of diseases. The level of destruction is devastating. According to the UN, if fighting ends immediately, it would take until 2092 for Gaza to restore its GDP to 2022 levels! GDP was already extremely low in the first place following a brutal siege for nearly two decades.

The war waged on Gaza also brings the dangerous prospect of wider conflict in the Middle East, with worrying developments in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Iraq and other countries.

While Labour and Tories refuse to call for an immediate ceasefire despite its popularity amongst over 70% of the population in Britain, millions refuse to stay silent. There have been historic solidarity protests against the genocidal war on Gaza. These include significant demonstrations in the Middle East, the occupied West Bank, as well as workers’ action in the transport sector to disrupt the Israeli war machine. There is also growing discontent amongst the Israeli-Jewish population against Netanyahu and his government that treats the issue of the hostages as secondary, despite growing protests on this issue.

The ground invasion of Rafah

All eyes are now towards Rafah, a city situated on the border of Gaza with Egypt. Before 7 October it had just over 200,000 residents in an area of 64 km2 (same size as Woking) – now before the expected full ground invasion it includes at least 1.4 million displaced Gazans. This represents yet another horrific stage in the genocidal war on Gaza. It can accelerate the expansion of the war in the Middle East but can also spur on the international solidarity movement.

Gazans have nowhere safe to go. The area that the Israeli army is designating for the people in Rafah is Al-Mawasi – a coastal area of roughly 16 sq km. This is impossible. Even if ‘only’ one million Palestinians sought refuge in this area, which is already full of displaced Gazans, it will mean the density will be roughly 62,500 people per sq km (compared to a population density of 434 people per sq km in England).

Another ‘Nakba’?

This means masses of Gazans could be pushed to the Rafah border of Gaza with Egypt, threatening a second Nakba. The Nakba (‘catastrophe’) was the mass expulsion of Palestinians in 1948 resulting in at least 750,000 Palestinians being expelled from their homes. These horrors were never recognised by the Israeli capitalist and racist regime nor their right to return. Gaza is an enclave created as a result of the Nakba with many citizens being 1948 refugees themselves; which means this national collective trauma is still very much alive.

While the Egyptian President, Al-Sisi, says Egypt won’t be complicit in a second Nakba, he holds no genuine concern for the Palestinians, only his own interests.

Al-Sisi’s government has for years been actively collaborating with the Israeli state to enforce the brutal siege on Gaza. So far, his regime hasn’t even seriously threatened to cancel the 1979 peace accords with Israel. Other agreements between the two could be broken though if the Israeli army proceeds with Netanyahu’s plans of taking over the Philadelphi Corridor/ Saladin Axis which is a route by the border involving control of Egyptian border guards.

It is clear, however, that if the demonstrations in Egypt, in solidarity with Gazans, were to grow against the background of the invasion of Rafah, they can turn against Al-Sisi; especially if he were perceived as an active aid to Israeli aggression. Such a scenario can push Al-Sisi to go much further than he actually intends as he would fear such protests could ignite a renewed mass uprising.

‘Peace processes’ on capitalist basis

This exposes the basis for agreements between the ruling elites in the Middle East. Dictators in the region and imperialist powers represent interests opposite to the interests of the masses. Their interest is the preservation of their rule and the capitalist system based on the exploitation and oppression of the masses.

A Palestinian revolution to achieve true national and social liberation and a genuine independent Palestinian state is likely to ignite other revolutionary uprisings in the region. This would be threatening not only to the dictatorships in the Middle East but also the interests of US imperialism, the dominant power in the region. It would also be threatening to the other imperialist powers, including the increasingly involved China and Russia.

The situation within the 1948 territories

Among the Israeli-Jewish population, there are growing concerns for the hostages taken in the brutal 7 October indiscriminate attack by Hamas. Despite protests and even a 100 minute general strike (marking 100 days since hostages were taken), Netanyahu demonstrated his regime is not only callous about the hellish conditions it enforces on the Palestinians; but also that it does not really

care about the Israeli hostages. ISA members in Israel-Palestine call for an immediate exchange of ‘all for all’, all of the hostages for all of the Palestinian prisoners, for an immediate and permanent ceasefire and a fight against the occupation, the root cause of this catastrophe.

Way forward

A real solution requires a change in the power relations between the Palestinian masses and the Israeli capitalist elite that enforces the bloody occupation, siege, poverty, and extreme national oppression.

Such change requires a mass struggle for Palestinian liberation and the overthrow of Israeli capitalism and imperialism in the Middle East.

A mass struggle poses the most fundamental risk for the Israeli occupation regime. The latter reached the point where it needs brutal genocidal war as its life insurance and to whip up racism and reactionary patriotism to cling to power. However, mass struggle by Palestinians, as demonstrated by the First Intifada, would lead to cracks between the reactionary capitalist state of Israel and the potentially mighty Israeli-Jewish working class. Under the hammer blows of mass struggle, the potential for widening those cracks still exists despite the nationalist wave. This is illustrated by the public debate over the hostages as well as the very poor poll results by Netanyahu and his far right coalition partners.

The fight to end the rule of Israeli capitalism and imperialist wars requires an alternative of socialist change, where the wealth and resources in the region are fully controlled and run in the interests of working class people – not warmongers and capitalists. This will allow decent living standards for all residents of the region and the planning of the urgently necessary rebuilding of Gaza, where basic infrastructure and utilities were acutely damaged and inadequate before 7 October.

Reaching genuine regional peace on the basis of socialist transformation will include guaranteeing equal rights, genuine equality and the right for selfdetermination for all national communities in the region under working class agreements and the right of return of the Palestinian refugees from 1948 onwards. 

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