Thursday, November 15, 2012

Hands off Gaza - one state the only solution

The latest Israeli assault on Gaza is the act of a state with nothing to offer but the politics and economics of war and terror. With an election coming up in January, Netanyahu’s Likud government is killing Palestinians with the aim of creating fear at home to help them hold on to power.

Netanyahu’s regime has turned once more to state terrorism to find a distraction for an Israeli population burdened by debt and devastated by spending cuts. In July, mass protests once more erupted on the streets of Tel Aviv and two men died after setting themselves on fire in protest at social conditions.

Inequality in Israel is amongst the highest in the world, according to the OECD. One in five Israelis live in poverty, one in three children. But between 2008 and 2009, the number of millionaires increased by 43%, largely from hi-tech start-ups in the weapons, security and communications sector.  

As usual, the world’s media slavishly follows the Israeli line that increased rocket attacks from Gaza led to the current assault, but an open letter from ten leading academics, including Noam Chomsky, is eye witness to a different chronology.

On November 5, a 20-year old Gazan man with a learning disability was shot when he wandered too close to the border. It was six hours before Israeli troops would let medics reach him, so he died. On November 8, a 13-year old boy playing football in front of his house was killed when the Israeli Defence Force made an incursion into Gaza.

By November 11, five Palestinian civilians including three children had been killed in 72 hours. Four deaths occurred when shells were fired at a football match. Some 52 civilians had been wounded, including six women and 12 children.

A Canadian doctor working in Gaza reports wounded arriving at Shefa hospital with shrapnel wounds – brain, neck, throat, intestinal and bone injuries leading to “traumatic amputations”, carried out with “very little morphine for analgesia.”

These were deliberate provocations against a relatively defenceless people armed with a few home-made rockets who live in what has been dubbed the world’s biggest prison camp. Cut off from their fellow Palestinians on the West Bank, most Gazans are registered refugees dependent on help from United Nations agencies and conditions are deteriorating.

Not one Israeli civilian died before the IDF attack began – today three are dead as Hamas stepped up rocket attacks. Netanyahu has to answer for them, too.

Increasingly desperate violence is the Zionist state’s only response to the massive changes in the region. Iran has announced new advanced drones, more sophisticated than those they gave Hezbollah in Lebanon which were sending satellite pictures of Israel’s military and nuclear bases.

The Egyptian government, formerly a supine supporter of US policy in Israel, has recalled its ambassador from Tel Aviv. Its border with Gaza is open and Egyptian hospitals are preparing to accept casualties. Israel has been exchanging fire with Syrian artillery batteries on the Golan Heights, where anti-Assad rebels are located.

Later this month the United Nations will discuss a request from the Palestine National Authority for observer country status, a de facto recognition of statehood. The Israeli government has warned that if this happens, they will invade the Palestinian area and topple the government of Mahmoud Abbas.

The Zionist state is in a profound, existential crisis. It has nothing to offer the Israeli people, but the same could be said of the Hamas and Fatah leaderships – and the Iranian government with its military adventurism.

The only people offering a way forward are those from both sides of the Arab/Israeli divide who propose a one-state solution in place of the doomed two-state approach which becomes more impractical each day that Israeli settlement building continues.

Surely the aim has to be remove all the walls and checkpoints and to create a single democratic, secular state with equal rights for all its citizens, whatever their religious or ethnic background. That is the only way to rally Israelis and Palestinians against their common enemy.

Penny Cole

No comments: