Protesters in London demand the freedom of Palestine on the anniversary of the Nakba—the permanent displacement of Palestinians—in May. (Picture: Alisdare Hickson)

Israel launched a major offensive on Palestinians crammed into the Gaza Strip last weekend, killing over 40 people, including at least 15 children.

A missile fired by Israeli warplanes struck a group of people east of Khan Younis early last Saturday, killing 24-year-old Tamim Ghassan Abdullah Hijazi and 27-year-old Osama Abdulrahman Hussein al-Suri, according to Gaza-based human rights group Al-Mezan.

Hours later, Israeli ­warplanes fired three missiles at the three-storey home of a family of 40 south west of Gaza City, where mostly women and children lived. In the northern Jabaliya area, Israeli warplanes struck a group of Palestinians on Saturday, killing 28-year-old Hasan Muhammad Yousef Mansour and severely ­injuring another person.

Israeli warplanes also hit a group of Palestinians, mainly women and children, who were getting in a car to go to a family wedding. Al-Mezan said the attack killed the groom’s mother, Naamah Talbat Muhammad Abu Qaidah.

Simultaneously scores of Israeli ultra-nationalists stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem on Sunday morning. They were protected by heavily armed Israeli forces.

The Tories, US ­government and European Union all issued statements defending Israel’s bloody actions. Liz Truss, the foreign ­secretary and favourite to be the next prime minister, said, Britain “stands by Israel and its right to defend itself”.

An uneasy ceasefire agreed late on Sunday was holding at the beginning of this week. But it could break down at any time because Israeli politicians think bloodshed will boost their prospects of ­electoral success.

About 2.2 million Palestinians are packed into the narrow coastal Gaza Strip, one of the most densely populated areas in the world. Since 2008 Israel has waged four wars on the area, killing thousands of people, most of them civilians.

Israeli military strategists talk of regularly “mowing the lawn” in Gaza—repeated wars to blunt resistance. It’s a figure of speech that treats people like grass.

During Israel’s offensive on Gaza last year, its forces killed at least 261 people, including 67 children, and wounded more than 2,200 according to the United Nations. Israel tightly restricts movement of people and goods in and out of the enclave and imposes a naval blockade.

Israel stopped the planned transport of fuel into Gaza shortly before it launched its attacks last Friday. This virtually shut down the territory’s only power plant and reduced electricity to about four hours a day.

Hospitals were among the key services hit by power shortages. “The Israelis are attacking civilians, they are attacking premises, ­residential areas. “Nobody knows what will happen in the coming hours,” said Dr Medhat Abbas, director at the Gaza health ministry.

“There’s a shortage of electricity. We will rely in the hospitals on generators. Generators consume half a million litres every month. We do not have this fuel right now,” he added.

The latest Israeli assault began on Monday last week, when Israeli forces arrested Bassam al-Saadi, an Islamic Jihad resistance group ­commander in the occupied West Bank. Al-Saadi is a former ­prisoner who spent many years in Israeli jails. Israel killed two of his sons during its large-scale invasion of the Jenin refugee camp in 2002.

Al-Saadi was seized during an Israeli raid in the city of Jenin, during which an Israeli soldier shot and killed 17-year-old Dirar al-Kafrini. A few days later Israel killed Tayseer al-Jabari, the Islamic Jihad commander in the north of Gaza.

Then last Sunday the ­resistance group said Khaled Mansour, its commander in the south of Gaza, had also been killed in an Israeli raid. Islamic Jihad did not immediately retaliate for the arrest of Al-Saadi. But, as Israeli forces knew, it had to when Israel started to ­slaughter its leading figures. It fired some largely ­ineffective rockets that killed nobody. By the beginning of this week there had been no significant injuries on the Israeli side.

Israeli prime minister Yair Lapid had stated last week, attacks on Gaza “will take as long as it needs”. This latest war underlines the need to fight the Israeli apartheid state and for a single democratic Palestinian state with the right of return for all refugees.

Rally for Palestine—end apartheid, end the occupation, stop arming Israel. Wed 10 Aug, 6pm, Downing Street, London, Called by Palestine Solidarity Campaign

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