[To read reports on the demonstrations in England & Wales where this leaflet was distributed, see here]
More than 30 children were among those killed by the Israeli army’s high-tech missiles.
Among the opening strikes was the assassination of the military leader of Islamist party Hamas, Ahmed Jabari, despite him then having just agreed to a ceasefire intended to stop military attacks from both sides.
Many more Palestinians than Israeli Jews were killed in the attacks prior to Israel’s week of intensive bombing, but British prime minister David Cameron and foreign secretary William Hague blamed Hamas as bearing "principal responsibility".
They refused to condemn the Israeli regime for deploying its vastly stronger military might.
75,000 Israeli army reservists were called up in preparation for a land invasion, but international pressure and lack of firm support in Israel for going in on the ground contributed towards Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreeing to a ceasefire on Wednesday 20th November.
Stop the War demo assembling, London 24th November 2012
Gazans celebrated in the streets, but they realise it’s a very unstable ceasefire agreement as the Israeli leaders could decide to take anything they deem as a provocation as a reason for a renewed onslaught.
Israeli defence minister Ehud Barak confirmed this when he said that the ceasefire "could last nine days or nine weeks or more but if it doesn’t hold, we know what to do and of course, we will consider the possibility of resuming our activity if there is any firing or provocations".
No alleviation of the acute suffering of the Gazan Palestinians has yet been agreed, just ’talks’ towards ’easing’ the six-year blockade of the strip that has condemned them to terrible poverty, high unemployment and virtual prison camp conditions.
Stop the War demo, London 24th November 2012, photo by JB
The Israeli regime’s offensive was a nightmare for the Gazans and will bring no peace and security for the Israeli people.
It was partly fuelled by the power hungry desire of Netanyahu and his fellow ministers to do well in the forthcoming Israeli general election.
They want to distract the attention of Israelis away from cuts in services and living standards and give an impression of strengthening security.
They are alarmed about Hamas having new points of support in the region following the Muslim Brotherhood victories in Egypt and Tunisia and also increased support from Turkey.
A few weeks ago the emir of Qatar visited Gaza and pledged $400 million of investment, which boosted Hamas, to the anger of the Israeli leaders.
But their blood-filled strategy had the potential to spiral out of their control and rebound on them by massively inflaming relations between countries and within them; protests against the Israeli attacks broke out in Egypt, in other Arab countries and worldwide.
Netanyahu and Co argued that they have to stop the rocket attacks from Gaza. That was also the declared aim of the invasion of Gaza in 2008-09, but it failed to stop them, as will this offensive too.
No amount of force will prevent the masses in Gaza from resisting the occupation and struggling to make their lives more tolerable.
However, the indiscriminate firing of rockets into Israel and attacks like the recent bombing of a bus in Tel Aviv are a mistaken strategy that unfortunately won’t further the Palestinians’ struggle.
Four Israeli civilians were killed by rockets fired from Gaza during the eight day Israeli offensive.
Such attacks bring greater repression down on the Palestinians and cannot help win Israeli working class people to their cause.
The Palestinian masses can have no trust in regimes like Qatar and Turkey. They need to build their own organisations that can democratically organise defence and take offensive initiatives based on mass struggle - such as against the blockade and land seizures.
Neither the right-wing Islamist Hamas nor the Fatah-led authority in the West Bank are prepared to do this - they have no viable strategy for defeating the occupation or for providing decent living standards.
In Israel, following the unprecedented social movement involving hundreds of thousands of people in 2011, a new workers’ party is needed to concretely advance the aspirations of that movement - for decent housing, services, pay etc.
The Socialist Struggle Movement in Israel/Palestine (part of the CWI - Committee for a Workers’ International, to which the Socialist Party is also affiliated) participated fully in that movement and in the anti-war demonstrations in Israel during the attack on Gaza, calling for an immediate end to the bloodshed and the removal of the present right-wing Israeli government "of big business and the settlements".
It will be through the building of new mass workers’ parties in the region that the pro-big business agendas of the capitalist parties can be challenged and thrown out, and socialist ideas can start to take hold.
That will create the basis to build democratic socialism in Palestine, Israel and throughout the Middle East, with guaranteed rights for all national minorities.
- End the blockade of Gaza and fully open the Gaza-Egypt border
- For the immediate withdrawal of the Israeli army from all the Palestinian territories
- For a mass struggle of the Palestinians, under their own democratic control, to fight for genuine national liberation
- For independent workers’ organisations in Palestine and Israel
- For a struggle for governments of representatives of workers and the poor that will end oppression, defend democratic rights for all - including minorities, and break with capitalism and imperialism