The Palestinian population is once again rising against the policies of apartheid and ethnic cleansing carried out by the racist state of Israel in the ongoing Nakba (the catastrophe) since the creation of the Israeli state in 1948. The uprising started in al-Quds city (Jerusalem) and spread to the entire Palestinian population, whether in the Palestine of ’48, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank or the refugee camps of the Palestinian diaspora, a fact unheard of since the first and second Intifadas.

By: Workers International League (IWL-FI)

Al-Quds

As with the second Intifada (2000), the starting point was the fighting in al-Quds city (the Arabic name for Jerusalem). In the Palestinian neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah, Palestinian families resist the continued ethnic cleansing and have now refused to accept eviction orders from Israeli courts to have their homes handed over to Israeli settlers.

At Damascus Gate, the main entrance to the old city, a traditional meeting and socialising place for the Palestinian youth, the youth stood up against police orders to ban them from the site.

In the old city, Palestinian Muslims are fighting for their right to pray freely at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, which has led to clashes with the Israeli police and army on the Esplanade of Mosques. In addition to the police and army, the State of Israel used Zionist fascist gangs to attack Palestinians, hundreds of whom were injured and/or arrested.

Palestine of 1948

From al-Quds, the Palestinian uprising spread to the Palestine of ’48 (as Palestinians call their 1948 occupied land, which the UN recognises as the State of Israel).

The Palestinian youth took to the streets in Palestinian cities and neighbourhoods such as Lyd, Yaffa, Ramla, Nazareth, Haifa, Acre, Umm al-Fahm and Nakab. It is worth remembering that the current Palestinian uprising was preceded by recent mobilisations in Umm al-Fahm against the collaboration of the Israeli police with criminal gangs.

As journalist Linaa Al-Saafin reports, the high point was the town of Lyd, near Tel-Aviv and the site of the main Israeli airport. In 1948, most of the 19,000 Palestinian inhabitants were expelled and 200 were executed by Zionist militias that included among their members the future Israeli Prime Minister Itzhak Rabin. Today about only 30% of its inhabitants are Palestinian.

On 10 May, Palestinians put a Palestinian flag on a lamppost in solidarity with Palestinians in al-Quds and, in retaliation, an Israeli settler murdered Moussa Hassouna on the same night. The following day, his funeral was also targeted by Zionist fascist gangs. The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared a state of emergency in the city (for the first time since 1966), sent 16 police units to the city and declared that “The Jewish state will not tolerate pogroms against our citizens.” The Public Security Minister Amir Ohana called for the release of Moussa Hassouna’s killer and declared, “The arrest of the gunman in Lod and his friends, who apparently acted in self-defence, is appalling. Law-abiding citizens who bear arms are for the authorities a multiplying force for the immediate neutralisation of threats and dangers.

This statement is emblematic of the colonial nature of the State of Israel, which encourages far-right fascist groups to pursue their crimes, such as the Lehava, the Youth of the Hill, “La Familia” and Beitar Yerushalaim football fans, who stormed Lyd, burned cars of Palestinians, attacked the mosque, vandalised the cemetery shouting “Death to Arabs.” In Bat Yam, the lynching of a Palestinian was televised simultaneously with the invasion of Palestinian homes in Haifa and Acre. On May 10, police authorities announced that 1,000 citizens were arrested, of whom 850 are Palestinians and 150 their supporters.

Gaza

Besieged by the State of Israel and the Egyptian regime since 2007 and subjected to frequent Zionist bombardments, 2 million Palestinians live a dramatic humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. According to journalist Ahmed Gabr, 80% of industrial activities and workshops have closed down due to the Israeli blockade and the resulting lack of supplies. Fishing is limited due to the siege of the Israeli navy. Israeli bombardments of power generation and water treatment stations make the supply of electricity limited to 4 hours a day on average and 96% of the water is contaminated, unfit for consumption. Under the new massacre, Palestinians may face a complete lack of electric power in a few days. The de facto power is exercised by Hamas after its victory in the 2006 parliamentary elections, which was neither accepted by the Israeli occupying power nor by American and European imperialism.

Gaza has historically played a leading role in the Palestinian struggle. The first Intifada began in Gaza in 1987 as well as the return marches in 2018-2019, in which 189 Palestinians were killed by the Israeli occupation army and more than 20,000 were injured.

Faced with the events in al-Quds, Hamas, together with its ally Islamic Jihad, launched some rockets at the Zionist state as a warning that it was united with the resistance.

Contrary to what the Zionist propaganda propagates, resistance is legitimate under occupation, by all means: this is not terrorism. Th terrorist is the racist state of Israel.

Since then, Gaza faces a new massacre, being brutally bombed by the Israeli air force, which launches missiles with high destructive power. According to a UN report, around 300 buildings have been affected by the bombings, and so far 200 Palestinians have been killed and thousands injured.

There is a visible technological improvement in the rockets launched from Gaza, both in the ability to launch in series, which makes their interception more difficult and in the increased range – they can now reach targets of up to 250 kilometres.

Despite the improvement in the range of their rockets, they are no match for the state-of-the-art missiles and aircraft provided by the United States to the Israeli army. For this reason, we cannot call the Israeli aggression a war, but a massacre.

West Bank

In the West Bank, the Palestinian resistance faces an apartheid regime with walls and checkpoints imposed by the Israeli occupation as well as the police and the intelligence service of the Palestinian Authority that maintains a shameful security cooperation agreement with the State of Israel.

Despite the difficulties, in all Palestinian cities and villages in the West Bank, such as Ramallah, Bethlehem, Al-Khalil (Hebron), the Palestinian youth demonstrate and face strong repression by the military occupation forces, which forced the Palestinian Authority to take a stand against the Israeli bombing of Gaza and for the resumption of negotiations.

Refugees and Diaspora

The picture of the Palestinian struggle is completed by the strong mobilisation of Palestinians who live outside Palestinian lands, more than half the population of around 13 million, who are not allowed to return to their homeland by the Israeli occupying power.

There is intense unrest among the youth in the Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon, countries in which Palestinians, united with local Arabs, have organised demonstrations on the border with occupied Palestine where they have been repressed by Israeli, Jordanian and Lebanese forces.

Apart from Jordan and Lebanon, there were mobilisations in solidarity in many cities around the world (London, Paris, Berlin, New York, Istanbul, Cape Town, Sao Paulo and a long etcetera) with a large Palestinian and Arab presence in general.

In the Arab countries, there were also demonstrations in Tunisia, Libya, Morocco and Idlib (Syrian province besieged by the forces of the Syrian regime).

Imperialism’s position

Amidst various statements calling the State of Israel and Hamas to a ceasefire, the exemplary position is that of the US Democratic administration.

President Biden and his Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, have defended the right of the racist state of Israel to defend itself against the “aggression” of the Palestinians. In addition, they refuse to review the sale of $735 million in high-tech weapons to the State of Israel which uses them to promote the massacre in Gaza. It is worth remembering that the United States donates US$3.8 billion per year in armaments to the State of Israel. And they also veto any resolution in the UN Security Council in which there is no Israeli agreement.

Finally, the UN makes the usual statements in favour of a reduction in attacks by both Palestinians and Israelis and the resumption of negotiations, intending to implement the “two-state solution”, which has always been unfair and has already been rendered unviable by the advance of colonisation of Palestinian land by Israeli settlers.

Some initial conclusions

The current Palestinian uprising is spontaneous and has overcome the fragmentation imposed by Israeli colonisation and has become an uprising of the entire population inside and outside occupied Palestine. This fact of the first magnitude restores the prospect of Palestinian unity that had been abandoned by the PLO after the Oslo accords (1993). It also puts back into practice the struggle for a free, secular and democratic Palestine from the river to the sea, the original banner of the PLO that was abandoned and replaced by the “two-state solution”.

The current Palestinian uprising, which unites a fragmented society faces powerful enemies: the State of Israel and its military, police and paramilitary forces; the decisive support of US and European imperialism, as well as the complacency of the UN and the “international community”; the Arab regimes, several of which are in the process of normalisation with the State of Israel; and the Palestinian bourgeoisie represented by the Palestinian National Authority which is a beneficiary of the business of occupation and collaborates in repression with the Israeli occupying power.

For the Palestinian uprising to be consolidated as a third intifada, it needs local and international coordination to represent the Palestine of ’48, al-Quds, West Bank, Gaza and the diaspora as the PLO did from the late ‘60s until the Oslo agreements. And to coordinate the different expressions of Palestinian resistance under the political horizon of the dismantling of the State of Israel, for a free, secular and democratic Palestine, from the river to the sea. One example is the Palestinian women’s movement Tal’at, which states that there is no free nation without free women and refuses to cooperate with Zionist feminist organisations, uniting the struggle against sexism with the struggle for national liberation.

Unity with the Arab revolutions is another key point of the strategy for the liberation of Palestine. While the Arab dictatorships collaborate directly or indirectly with the State of Israel, the Arab masses support the Palestinians. The coming into motion of the Arab masses constitutes the main support for the Palestinian masses and hence the need to build ties of solidarity.

Similarly, broad unity of action in support of the resistance and strengthening international solidarity and campaigns like the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) is also key to unmask the apartheid and ethnic cleansing Palestinians are subjected, and to put pressure on governments in each country.

To carry this struggle through to the end, a new, revolutionary, political leadership is needed for the struggle for the liberation of Palestine. Whether nationalist, leftist or Islamist oriented, the current organisations do not have a political programme that points in that direction. The main nationalist organisation is Fatah, led by Mahmoud Abbas, who runs the Palestinian Authority, which cooperates directly with the Israeli occupation. Under the umbrella of the Palestinian Authority, the main organisations of the Palestinian left (FPLP, FDLP and PP) turned their backs on the revolutions in the Arab world by supporting dictators like Bashar el-Assad (read, in Portuguese, Uma análise da esquerda palestina). The Islamist-oriented organisations (Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Ra’am), on the other hand, advocate an Islamic Palestine, which divides the Palestinian masses. Moreover, the political relations between Islamic Jihad and the Iranian capitalist dictatorship put it in the opposite direction to the democratic struggles of the Iranian, Syrian and Lebanese working class (read, in Portuguese, Maher Al-Akhras e os caminhos para a libertação da Palestina).

This new political leadership will be based on the Palestinian working class, peasants and young workers who constitute the social classes with the strategic interest of defeating the State of Israel, dismantling it and building a free, secular and democratic Palestine from the River to the Sea.

For an end to the Israeli massacre of Gaza!

Unconditional support for Palestinian resistance and effective international solidarity!

Military unity with Hamas and all Palestinian organizations against Israeli aggression and for the end of the blockade of Gaza! Reparation for all the damage caused to the people of Gaza!

For an end to the evictions of Palestinian families and the demolition of their homes in the ongoing ethnic cleansing!

Prohibition of the presence of Israeli military, police or paramilitary forces in the Old City, especially in the Esplanade of Mosques!

Immediate withdrawal of all Israeli occupation forces from the West Bank, al-Quds and all Palestinian cities and neighbourhoods! For the disbandment of the Israeli army and police!

For the annulment of all racist laws against Palestinians!

Freedom for all Palestinian political prisoners!

For the right of return of Palestinian refugees!

Unification of Palestinian struggles and the building of workers’ and people’s councils to centralise Palestinian resistance!

For a new revolutionary political leadership for the liberation of Palestine!

For the end of the racist state of Israel and its apartheid and ethnic cleansing policies!

For a free, secular and democratic Palestine, from the River to the Sea!