Gaza City has been flattened by Israel’s bombs (Picture: Alamy/ Rizek Abdeljawad)

Israel is carrying out ethnic cleansing—the outcome of vicious Zionist colonialism—in the Gaza Strip. It was preparing for a ground offensive, as Socialist Worker went to press, which will unleash a new wave of horrors on Palestinians.

Last week Israel instructed 1.1 million Palestinians living in Gaza City to “move south into the Sinai Peninsula” in Egypt’s desert. Its justification is to ­“exterminate Hamas”. But Hamas exists only because of Israeli oppression. 

And there’s no talk of when Palestinians can return. Israel’s plan from the beginning has been to drive Palestinians from their land. It’s another Nakba, a repeat of when Zionist militias forced over 850,000 Palestinians from their homes in 1948

Just as in 1948, the Israeli state’s message couldn’t be more explicit—leave or we will kill you. And even if you do try to leave, we will murder you anyway. Almost 3,000 Palestinians had been murdered by the Israeli state in Gaza by Tuesday morning. 

The Government Media Office in Gaza said, “The losses of the current Israeli aggression exceed all the wars that Gaza has been exposed to in recent years. The catastrophic humanitarian reality in Gaza is unprecedented.”

Many thousands of people fled the north of Gaza over the weekend after Israel ordered them to clear out of the city in 24 hours. But the south wasn’t safe. Israeli bombs killed at 71 people on Monday night in Khan Younis, Rafah and Der Al Balah. 

Those who were killed by Israeli air strikes had been fleeing the north of Gaza—as instructed. Another 70 Palestinians, who were escaping in a convoy, were killed by an earlier Israeli air strike. Israel had said the road was safe to travel on. So much for the “humanitarian corridors” Israel’s supporters in the West have emphasised.  

Last Saturday, Israel’s prime ­minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned that “the next stage is coming. We’re all ready,” he said in a video to Israeli forces. Hamas was elected to govern Gaza in 2006. But its political power is minimal as Israel controls every aspect of life in the territory. The last time Israeli forces mounted a ground invasion of Gaza it was supposedly to root out Hamas.   

They murdered over 2,300 Palestinians during what they called Operation Protective Edge in 2014. The attack smashed infrastructure and homes, and shattered Gaza’s economy. More than 500,000 people were displaced. Today Israel uses the same lies about opposing terror to impose revenge on every Palestinian living in Gaza. 

The supposedly “liberal” Israeli president Isaac Herzog says the “entire nation” of Palestinians was responsible for “terrorism”. “This rhetoric that civilians were not aware, not involved,” said Herzog. “It’s absolutely not true. They could have risen up. We are at war. We will fight until we break their backbone,” he said, referring to Palestinians.

Israel is the terror state, and Palestinians have the right to resist it. Israel has starved, murdered and made life unbearable for Palestinians in the strip for decades. Now it is carrying out mass ­killing—with full US and British support.

‘Despite facing death I am still a proud Palestinian’

Ibtisam lives in Deir al-Balah in central Gaza. She described to Socialist Worker at the beginning of this week the horrors of living under siege—and the constant fear of death from Israeli bombs.  “The bombing here was tough. The electricity was cut off completely. Clean water is about to run out very soon,” she said. 

“People won’t survive long in these unbelievable conditions. The number of displaced people is increasing immensely. In one building you may find 60 or 70 people.” Ibtisam could not contact anyone for several days after the Israeli state cut off the internet and power. 

But last Sunday she said, “During these difficult times, I believe that injustice has to come to an end. While I face the risk of death, words have to be real and expressive. Despite everything, I am proud I am Palestinian. I am proud that I lived as a fighter for peace. 

“Palestine is not just a Palestinian issue. It’s for people across the world to unite over, and against apartheid, evil and racism. Thank you all for your sustaining support, sincere empathy and unforgettable efforts to stand beside the voiceless, oppressed and vulnerable Palestinians. Salute from Gaza Palestine.

Israeli terror spreads to the West Bank

Palestinians living in the West Bank are terrified that they will be next to suffer the full force of the Israeli state’s brutality. A Palestinian living near Jerusalem told Socialist Worker last Friday, “We are finding it hard to sleep. We hear the constant gunfire and bombing in Gaza. We are under siege as well.” 

As of last Friday at least 16 Palestinians had been killed by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank, and at least 51 in total since Hamas launched its attacks. Protests were held last Friday in cities including Ramallah, Tulkarem, Nablus and Hebron.

“I think Israel’s plan will be to clear the rest of the West Bank as well,” the Palestinian explained. “The strategy is to have an empty country.” Attacks by Israeli soldiers on Palestinians have increased. But so have attacks from illegal settlers who have been given confidence by Israel’s bombing of Gaza and are always backed by the state. 

On Thursday of last week, an illegal settler shot and killed a Palestinian woman named Randa Ajaj. She was driving from Ramallah to the village of Yabrud. Her son Ismail was also injured in the shooting.

Footage of a settler pulling a Palestinian man to the ground and then shooting him in the head at point‑blank range was also circulated by the human rights organisation B’Tselem. Israeli forces were standing only metres away and let the murder happen. 

“The Israeli state is arresting a lot of Palestinians. The number of prisoners is going up. They are trying to put as many people behind bars as possible,” said the Palestinian near Jerusalem. 

“We are being barred from praying at the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Even people trying to pray near the mosque were attacked by the Israeli army with tear gas canisters. People here in the West Bank are almost completely without protection. We don’t have armed military units. The Palestinian Authority is offline. They are non-existent.” 

‘This was Israel’s plan all along’

Ahmed is a Palestinian from Gaza now living in Scotland. While he spoke to Socialist Worker on Sunday evening, he received a message from his brother saying that more of his extended family had been killed by Israeli bombs. 

“It’s almost impossible to describe with words what this feels like,” he said. “The situation is getting worse day after day. There is no electricity, water or internet. Because there’s no electricity, people’s phones are running out of charge. I have to call more than ten times to get through. I am constantly thinking about whether they are still alive at any moment.

“My brother has a power generator in his home, he said they have about three hours of electricity every day. But the fuel they have will run out in the next couple of days.” As well as electricity, Ahmed said food is also running out. “Bread is a staple in Gaza, but there’s no electricity to work the machines that make flour.

“People are queuing to get food from bakeries, but they are also running out. If the bombs don’t kill people, starvation and disease will.” Ahmed added that Israel forcing Gazans in the north to move south is just a way to kill Palestinians more easily. 

“People in the north are being displaced. The population density in Gaza is already unimaginable,” he explained. “Now they are forcing half the population to crowd into the south. In my family home, more than 100 people are crammed into a house. But the south isn’t safe. The Israelis are still bombing those going there. 

“They want to push the people of Gaza into Egypt. They say it’s the only place for them to go, but I think this was Netanyahu’s plan all along. He showed a map of the Middle East on a news programme about three weeks ago, but there was no Gaza or West Bank on the map.” 

Ahmed said that in Britain, the Tories and media are complicit in the crimes against Palestinians. “There is no hope from Britain’s government,” he said. “Rishi Sunak released a 500‑word statement about what’s happening, and not once did he mention the word Palestine.

“When I moved here, I knew what the West always says about itself—being a pillar of free speech and democracy—was fake. But I never expected that sentiment to be so false. 

“The BBC keeps asking how many people in Gaza support Hamas. If anyone says that people in Gaza support Hamas, they will use it to say the killings are justified. For me what the BBC is doing is also a war crime.” 

Ahmed has always seen through the West’s hypocrisy when it comes to backing Israel. But he has also lost faith in Arab rulers and the Palestinian Authority to bring justice and  peace. 

“I didn’t support the Oslo Accords back then (signed in 1995), and I don’t support them now,” he said. “All that happened was more annexation,” he explained. “The Israelis wanted one state, and now they have got it. 

“Israel ignores all international laws and peace treaties. They do as they please, so what are these international laws worth? They are worth nothing.” For Ahmed, an important way to help Palestine is to “keep telling the truth about what is happening”.

“When I’ve seen pictures and videos of protests across the world, I am given hope by how young the protesters are and how people don’t believe the Israeli lies so easily. Solidarity is important, but action is better. We need to make our voices impossible to ignore.”

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