What is the objective of the new U.S.-Israeli assault?
July 5, 2006
By Richard Becker, West Coast coordinator of the ANSWER Coalition
The intensifying U.S.-backed Israeli assault on the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank is aimed at dismantling the recently elected Palestinian National Authority (PNA) government and forcing the Palestinians to accept an Israeli-dictated "peace settlement." The Israeli government is utilizing the capture of one of their occupation troops as the pretext to carry out a multi-faceted attack on both Palestinian governmental institutions and the population as a whole. At least one-third of the PNA cabinet and many members of parliament, mayors and other officials have been imprisoned by Israel. Altogether, more than 9,000 Palestinian political prisoners, all abducted from their homeland, remain behind the walls of Israeli jails.
The operation currently underway has been preceded by several years of economic strangulation, which was turned into a near-complete blockade imposed on Gaza after the January 2006 Palestinian elections.
The victory of the Hamas party in that election was followed immediately by a cut-off in most trade as well as international assistance from the European Union, U.S., Canada and other countries. International assistance became critical due to the deliberate destruction of the Palestinian economy by Israel.
The Israeli government under the notorious racist Ehud Olmert (who succeeded the even more notorious Sharon) has been tightening the screws on the Palestinians in Gaza for months, causing widespread shortages of medicine, food and other necessities preventing supplies or funds from getting in to Gaza. Israel cut off tax payments of $55 million per month owed to Palestinians.
Over nine days in mid-June, 14 Palestinian civilians were killed in Gaza by Israeli missile strikes. The last one killed Fatima Ahmed, the pregnant 37-year-old mother of two young children, and her brother, Zakaria, while wounding 13 other members of the family and destroying their home.
The new Israeli offensive launched on June 27 began with the destruction of Gaza's only power plant, water facilities and the main roads connecting the north and south. The Israeli Air Force has carried out many air strikes, and constant sonic booms over heavily populated areas. Israeli heavy artillery barrages are continuing around the clock. On July 1, the office of the Palestinian Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyeh was destroyed by an Israeli bombing.
As of July 5, 11 Palestinians have been killed and many more wounded. Israeli troops, tanks and helicopters have re-invaded Gaza, surrounding the northern towns of Beit Hanun and Beit Lahiya, and the southern city of Rafah.
In the face of the massive and pre-meditated destruction inflicted by the Israelis, Washington has shown complete backing for Israel’s crimes against humanity. Underlining that the assault has full U.S. backing, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice today said only that it is “high time” the Palestinians release the captured soldier, Gilad Shalit. While attempting to create a global hysteria about North Korean Scud missiles test-fired into the sea, neither Rice nor any other Washington official has uttered a word of criticism of the countless high-tech missiles Israel has fired into populated Palestinian areas.
The U.S.-Israeli strategy against the Palestinians is similar to the one used against Iraq: years of enforced economic hardship, followed by a massive military assault.
As the Palestinian Prime Minister has stated, "the total war is proof of premeditation." There can be no doubt that this offensive has been in the works for a considerable period of time. Nor can there be any doubt that an operation of this magnitude and potential political consequences could have been undertaken by Israeli without close consultation and approval from Washington.
There is a possibility that what is unfolding in Palestine may turn into a wider, regional war. The over-flight of Syrian President Bashir-al-Assad's residence in Latakia, Syria on July 28 was met with Syria anti-aircraft fire. Both the U.S. and Israeli ruling classes are seeking "regime change" in Damascus.
A key element in the U.S.-Israeli strategy inside Palestine is to seek to demoralize the Palestinian people. The Israeli government is openly trying to show the Palestinians, by inflicting maximum misery on the entire population, that their elected government cannot provide for their basic needs and never will as long as it maintains a posture of resistance. The central message is: All resistance is futile. You (the Palestinians) must either accept your status as a subordinated, enslaved people, or you can (preferably) leave.
Both Tel Aviv and Washington hope that the new Israeli offensive will crush the Palestinian resistance, a key goal of the U.S. and Israel for nearly four decades.
There is, however, no indication, despite all the indescribable suffering imposed by colonial occupation, that the Palestinians are any more ready to surrender today than they were in 1987 or 1967 or 1947. The remarkable fighting spirit of the people despite the immense odds they face appears very strong.
But the Palestinians, who have held out for so long, cannot win by themselves. The forces arrayed against them are too powerful for them to overcome alone. What is needed now more than ever is international solidarity, especially here inside the imperialist state that really constitutes their main enemy.
STOP THE U.S.-ISRAELI ASSAULT ON THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE!
END ALL U.S. AID TO THE ISRAELI APARTHEID STATE!
SELF-DETERMINATION FOR THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE INCLUDING THE RIGHT OF RETURN!