Brutal Israeli police raid of al-Aqsa mosque unleashes wave of conflict

The Al-Qibli Chapel, Part of Al-Aqsa Mosque, in the Old City of Jerusalem. Considered to be the third holiest site in Islam (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The brutal police attack on Palestinians in the al-Aqsa mosque has unleashed a new wave of conflict. Footage shared on social media showing paramilitary police using long battens to  relentlessly beat Palestinian men and women inside the the third holiest site in Islam, during Ramadan. This has caused outrage throughout the Muslim world.

In a huge understatement, the Arab League said that this put “regional stability at risk”.  Forty four missiles were fired from Gaza into Southern Israel, and 34 were fired from Lebanon into Northern Israel – the largest barrage there since 2006. The Israeli state immediately fired  missiles into Gaza and Lebanon. Demonstrators clashed with police in East Jerusalem, as well as in Arab towns in Israel proper, including Nazareth, Sakhnin, Baqa al-Gharbiya and Kafr Manda.

The Israeli police actions were intended to clear the Ḥaram al-Sharīf  – known to Jews as the Temple Mount – of Palestinians ahead of a visit of members of the messianic Temple Mount Movement the following morning. The Temple Mount Movement wants to rebuild the Jewish Temple (destroyed by the Romans in 70AD) on the site of the Dome of the Rock, and the Al Aqsa mosque, built in the 7th and 8th Centuries. They believe that the consecration of the Third Temple would bring about the coming of the messiah. In the 1980s, members of the Jewish underground were arrested for planning to blow up the Dome of the Rock. A number of their supporters were arrested on Thursday trying to bring animals onto the Haram al-Sharif in order to slaughter them for ritual sacrifice. Most jews think that the Temple Mount movement are dangerous lunatics. But they are supported by the ultra-nationalist faction which the Netanyahu government depends on for the survival of its majority, including National Security minister Ittamar Ben Gvir, who has control of the police force.

Residents of Northern and Southern Israel living under Hamas missile attacks have been told to stay near air-raid shelters. But successive governments have shown their contempt for these poverty stricken working class communities by cutting schemes to retrofit homes with shelters. Around 50,000 Israelis living within 9km of the Lebanon border still do not have usable shelters. Both the north and the south of Israel – considered the “periphery”  – are unemployment black-spots, whose population consists of the most downtrodden sections of the working class, including, in the north, Israeli Palestinians. The rockets fired into these areas have, so far, not caused any casualties. Marxists totally oppose such indiscriminate attacks on working class communities, which can only rally support around the beleaguered Netanyahu government.

Escalation of the national conflict

This dramatic escalation of the national conflict occurs after 13 weeks of mass protests have brought hundreds of thousands of Israelis out onto the streets against the government’s assaults on “democracy”. The self-appointed capitalist leaders of the protest movement have fallen behind the ultra right government as military conflict has developed. Benn Ganz  says the opposition will give its full support to the government in responding to the escalating violence, and calls on people to unite behind it. Yair Lapid said: “When it comes to security, there is no opposition and there is no coalition”.

Ultimately the capitalist ruling  class have no solution to the national conflict, and no alternative to the brutal repression of the Palestinians. The Netanyahu government cannot be defeated by Hamas missiles fired into working class communities, which could only bolster support for Netanyahu. His supporters and the far right will try to use this situation to consolidate their support which they were losing due to ongoing protest against the government.

But the general strike of 27 March 2023 showed the power of the working class to force Netanyahu to retreat. The mass protests, which have brought hundreds of thousands onto the streets, need to shake off its capitalist leaders, such as Ganz and Lapid. Protests organisers have now called for continuation of protest and ask for the “citizens to go out to the streets in masses on Saturday”. This should be welcomed. But there should also be a call for further escalation of strike action along with mass mobolisation. And crucially, activists and organisatons involved in the movement should form independent mass workers’ party, and through them take control of their own movement and wage a decisive challenge to the government. They need to link up with Palestinians protesting and confronting the repressive forces of the state, in the Palestinian towns in Israel, as well as in the territories. The working class, united, has the power to defeat the ultra-nationalist government of Netanyahu and Ben Gvir, and pull the Middle East back from the carnage of regional conflict.





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April 2023