Ordinary people around the world are being forced to witness untold horrors in Gaza as the Israeli regime pushes forward with its brutal revenge attack. Following the horrible October 7 attack by Hamas that killed 1,400 in Israel, the Netanyahu regime wasted no time in doling out indiscriminate collective punishment on the two million Palestinians in Gaza.
Last week, 1.1 million residents of northern Gaza were ordered to evacuate. By Tuesday, just as the escapees were arriving and packing residential buildings and shelters in the South, the Israeli military had intensified bombings of cities in Southern Gaza as well.
About one million residents of Gaza have fled their homes, some on foot. But nowhere is safe. Civilians aren’t allowed to leave, neither by the Israeli nor the Egyptian authorities, who control the two access points. More than ever, Gaza is an open air prison, where the prisoners are now being slaughtered. Israel has cut off the supply of food, water, electricity, and fuel in a medieval strategy of starving and killing people indiscriminately, in addition to, by the Israeli Air Force’s own account, over 6,000 bombs in just the first week of the assault.
Last Tuesday, an explosion at the Al-Alhi Baptist Hospital killed 500. The Israeli government quickly moved to deflect blame for the attack – but it would not be the first time in the history of the conflict that Israeli airstrikes have damaged healthcare infrastructure – it wouldn’t even be the first time this week. Every day is a new atrocity: on Thursday, one of the oldest churches in the world in Gaza City was bombed. Al Jazeera has reported the use of white phosphorous – the chemical that can cause burns all the way down to the bone.
Humanitarian aid can’t get in. People can’t get out. The death toll – by the most recent report at the time of writing – stands at about 5,100 Palestinians, nearly half of them children, and more than 15,000 injured.
Biden Administration Endorses Brutal Offensive
Since Biden took office, following four years of Trump’s provocative adventurist stunts such as moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, he’s appeared to walk a “tightrope.” Before this crisis, he has quietly urged the deeply reactionary Netanyahu government to scale back the worst of its attacks – like aggressive settlement activity in the West Bank and the hated judicial reform law – while maintaining stable US support of Israel’s military, content to accept empty promises every time. Netanyahu however has only moved further and more violently to the right. Facing an internal crisis of legitimacy, corruption charges, and an internal mass movement, he’s become increasingly dependent on coalition with far right forces to form governments.
Now, the “tightrope” is out the window. Biden’s historic visit to Tel Aviv on Tuesday made crystal clear that US imperialism backs the terror campaign. He has not hesitated to echo the Israeli government’s talking points, including the callous refrain of “human shields” to justify the no-holds-barred murder of civilians.
Israel is the closest ally of US imperialism in the Middle East, an armed “democratic” garrison during the original Cold War with the Soviet Union.
Biden’s role in this conflict must be understood in the context of the New Cold War and inter-imperialist rivalry that characterizes the new age of global disorder. Just as Air Force One was touching down in Tel Aviv, Vladimir Putin was visiting China to meet with Xi Jinping. Neither Russia or China has condemned Hamas, and both are intent on cynically exploiting the plight of Palestinians in an attempt to score political points against the US. China has also been playing a growing if still limited role in the region.
US imperialism fears the situation escalating into an all out regional war but their actions are contributing to that escalation. Backed by their bloc partners in Western Europe, the situation in the Middle East is becoming a face-off with Iran which is part of China and Russia’s bloc.
US imperialism is, however, paying a significant price in terms of its global prestige. Its already faltering campaign to win countries in the neocolonial world to its “democracy versus autocracy” banner is in tatters. The total hypocrisy of backing the Ukrainian regime in the name of defending national self determination while then backing the Israeli state’s crushing of the Palestinian people’s national rights, is stark. There is even dissent reported in the State Department because many feel the damage to US interests may be irreparable.
While in Tel Aviv, Biden negotiated a pledge of $100 million in humanitarian aid to Gaza. The cruel irony in this, however, is that this was only allowed on the condition of continued enormous military aid to Israel.
Thousands of artillery shells initially designated for Ukraine are on their way to Israel, and the Pentagon has dispatched two aircraft carriers to aid the airstrikes, and a special operations team to aid in ground operations in Gaza. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, on his own visit to Israel, reportedly gave the United States’ support to a ground invasion, though reports on this have varied. An escalation of this scale would lead to absolutely disastrous urban warfare in densely populated areas reminiscent of the worst of the Iraq War and the war against ISIS, as well as hugely increased risk of regional escalation.
The administration is trying to overcome the increasing Republican opposition to further military aid to the Ukrainian regime by proposing war on two fronts. Biden addressed the nation on Thursday evening to sell the public, and Congress, on $100 billion in aid to continue to fund the wars. He painted a picture of both Hamas and Putin as threats to US democracy, and funding now as necessary to avoid the US being drawn into a wider conflict.
The legacy of the Biden administration’s foreign policy will without a doubt be the massive escalation of the New Cold War on multiple fronts, from inter-imperialist war with China to strengthening the US led bloc in Europe and Asia around a brutal militarist agenda. Nor will the conflict in the Middle East – which could easily spin out of control – be the end. As events play out in Ukraine and in Gaza, a massive military build up is underway in the Western Pacific with increasing tensions in the South China Sea and over Taiwan demonstrate.
We Need To Fight Back
Protests have exploded throughout the US, Europe, and especially in the Middle East, largely in support of the Palestinian struggle against occupation and siege. Young people at college campuses and even high schools have staged walkouts, facing backlash and retaliation. Demonstrations of solidarity across borders are an important seed, showing the basis that exists to build multiracial, multiethnic, and cross-border struggle. But this has to be decisively under the direction of the working class. Socialist Alternative branches across the US have joined demonstrations in our cities. In the US, it is crucial that these protests feature front-and-center the demand for an end to US aid to Israel, alongside our demands for an end of war, occupation, blockade and terrorism.
Socialists point to the forces that can win change – and that is the multiracial, multinational working class. The only real solution is a struggle against capitalism and imperialism, for socialist system change. Working people have the tools in our hands to intervene in the situation – but we are not sufficiently organized as a class, and divisions and nationalism are obstacles to the kind of coordinated cross-border actions needed. The fact of the matter is that ordinary Israeli people have nothing to gain from further escalation, and the continuation of the war will only lead to more death and destruction on both sides of the fence, and potentially in the surrounding region. We need a united mass movement of the Israeli, Palestinian, and global working classes to end war and bloodshed.