May 15 is marked as Al Naqba (the day of the Catastrophe). It was on this day in 1948 that Israel, which had declared independence a day earlier, overran the territories of the Palestinian people, depriving them of their own homeland. The Palestinian people, whether living in the Israeli occupied territories, or in the refugee camps in other countries, have never given up their just struggle for their national rights, for their homeland. The state of Israel continues to commit one heinous crime after another against the Palestinian people, to humiliate them and crush their resolve to fight for justice. It aims to wipe out the Palestinian people as a nation. The Palestinian people refuse to be wiped out as a nation. This is the struggle that is raging in occupied Palestine, and in Israel today.
Israel has once again launched a ferocious attack on the Palestinian people living in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip. Hundreds of innocent men, women and children have been killed and thousands injured in these attacks.
On May 12, Israeli forces launched airstrikes on Gaza by bombing a residential tower. Israeli warplanes and artillery have struck hundreds of sites in the Gaza Strip, including civilian homes, dense residential neighborhoods, factories, farm lands and other infrastructure. “Skunk water” and tear-gas have been fired into Palestinian homes to force out the residents. Israeli air strikes are targeting residential buildings, schools and hospitals. Gaza’s health ministry officials have reported that the northern Hala al-Shawa medical center has been completely destroyed as a result of an Israeli military strike, preventing thousands of Palestinians, including mothers and their children, from receiving treatment.
The extent of barbarity of the Israeli attack can be gauged from the open claim of the Israeli military that a single Israeli strike early on May 15 involved 160 warplanes dropping nearly 80 tons of explosives in a time interval of 40 minutes. The Gaza strip has an area of merely 360 sq km, with about 1.8 million Palestinians living in this small area.
The present round of Israeli attacks began during the holy month of Ramadan. On April 13, 2021, Israeli police blocked off access to the Damascus Gate, a popular public meeting place in Jerusalem during Ramadan. The Israeli government provocatively imposed a limit on the number of people who could pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. On April 16, tens of thousands of worshippers were turned away from Al-Aqsa, leading to angry protests by the people.
Simultaneously, Israel continued with its program of evicting Palestinians from their homes in Jerusalem and handing over their land to Jewish settlers. Reactionary, racist anti-Palestine groups, armed with assault rifles and revolvers, led by prominent Israeli politicians, went about threatening to evict Palestinians from the Sheikh Jarrah area. Sheikh Jarrah is a predominantly Palestinian area of East Jerusalem. On May 6, deliberate provocations were organized by some of these groups, against the people living in Sheikh Jarrah, followed by violent attacks on the Palestinians by the Israeli police forces.
On May 7, Israeli police forces stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. The Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem is one of the holiest mosques of Islam. The attack was deliberately and provocatively carried out at the time when around 70,000 people were attending the final Friday prayers of Ramadan at the Mosque. Israeli armed forces stormed into the main complex housing the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the iconic golden Dome of the Rock. They fired stun grenades, tear gas and rubber bullets, causing grievous injuries to the people. The attacks continued through the night. On May 8, which is marked as the Islamic holy night of Laylat al-Qadr or “Night of Destiny” – considered as the most holy occasion during Ramadan — as people gathered to protect themselves and their holy site, Israeli police attacked with batons and on horseback, injuring hundreds more.
The Israel Army has refused to remove its forces from Al-Aqsa mosque. It escalated the war against the Palestinian people by launching air strikes in the Gaza strip on the same day. These strikes have been going on incessantly since May 10, including brutal attacks on civilian targets.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has threatened to “intensify the raids and strengthen their pace”. The Israeli defense minister has gone on record warning that they will send the Palestinians “back by years”! (In 2014, as Israel’s chief of staff commanding the 51-day attack that killed more than 2,200 Palestinians including 551 children, he had boasted that he had bombed Gaza back to the “stone ages”!)
Israel has tightened its 14-year siege of Gaza even further. It has completely blockaded the Kerem Shalom checkpoint, the only crossing where Israel allows goods in and out of Gaza, as well as the Erez checkpoint, the only crossing for people between Gaza and Israel. Apart from economic strangulation, this policy of “collective punishment” particularly threatens the lives of patients who need to travel to receive urgent medical attention. Israel has also completely blocked off the fishing zone, which directly targets Gaza’s economy and its nearly two million inhabitants.
Inside the state of Israel, reactionary forces, with the backing of the police, are organising provocations against the Palestinian people, in towns where there are mixed populations of Jews and Arabs. People have been lynched, their religious places destroyed.
The US imperialists and their allies such as Britain, Canada, France, Germany etc. have merely issued pious calls for “de-escalation of hostilities” and “cease-fire”, while refusing to condemn Israel for its inhuman crimes against the Palestinian people. The UN Security Council has not yet met to condemn the Israeli attacks.
Israel carries out its genocidal attacks on Palestinian people and their rights with full impunity, because it has the complete backing of US imperialism. The US has armed Israel to the teeth as its instrument to control and dominate the Palestinian and other Arab peoples. The US and its allies defend Israel and label the Palestinian people fighting for their rights as “terrorists”. They do this, even as Israel openly carries out the assassination of Iranian scientists and attacks on its military and nuclear installations; blatantly violates the sovereignty of Lebanon; launches missile attacks against Syria; annexes more and more Palestinian territory and even declares Jerusalem its capital, in flagrant violation of international law.
In 2020, US President Trump openly advocated for Israel’s plan to annex roughly 30 per cent of the Jordan Valley and parts of the occupied West Bank, territories that belong to the Palestinian people under international law, but have been forcibly and illegally occupied by Israel.
The Communist Ghadar Party of India condemns the Israeli attacks on the Palestinian people in Gaza, Jerusalem, the West Bank, and within Israel. The illegal occupation and annexation of the Palestinian people’s homeland, their forcible displacement and the brutal terror unleashed upon them by the Israeli state and its US imperialist backers must be opposed by all freedom loving people.
The creation of the state of Israel and the historic injustice to the Palestinian people
Before World War I, the land of the Palestinians was under the control of the Turkish Empire. Britain and France reached a secret agreement during the war, to divide the territories of the Turkish Empire amongst themselves. According to this agreement, the territory of Palestine was taken over by Britain after the war.
Britain had announced in 1917 that it was going to establish a “national home for the Jews in Palestine”. British imperialism encouraged migration of European Jews, who were being persecuted in their home countries, to Palestine. It pitted the Jewish settlers and the Palestinians against each other and instigated the former to take over land that belonged to the Palestinians.
The genocide of Jews by the German Nazis during World War II resulted in worldwide sympathy for the surviving Jewish people of Europe. As the British mandate over Palestine was coming to an end, the British imperialists worked to organise the bloody partition of Palestine on the basis of religion. The United Nations in 1947 sanctioned the creation of two states — the state of Israel and the state of Palestine. However while Israel came into being, the state of Palestine was not allowed to come into being.
On 14th May 1948, the state of Israel was proclaimed. It immediately launched a brutal attack on the territory that was envisaged to belong to the state of Palestine following the proposed partition. Large portions of this territory were taken over by Israel, forcing lakhs of people to flee their homeland. The remaining portion of Palestinian territory on the west side of the Jordan River, known as the West Bank, was taken over by Jordan. Since then, May 15th has been marked by Palestinians throughout the world as Naqba Day — “the day of catastrophe” — marking the loss of their homeland.
Thus, the state of Israel was created through armed aggression, massacres, ethnic cleansing and cruel displacement of nearly 750,000 Palestinian people from their homeland.
The first Israeli government passed a series of laws preventing Palestinians who had been forced to flee from returning to their homes or re-claiming their property. Many of them and their descendants remain refugees to this day!
There are about 13 million Palestinians today. This includes 3 million in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, 1.8 million in Gaza and 1.9 million who are citizens of Israel. About 5.6 million Palestinians live in Arab countries and the rest in other countries around the world. About 1.5 million Palestinians still live in about 58 refugee camps.
Israel is one of the most militarised countries of the world, armed to the teeth by Anglo American imperialism. It is the strategic ally of US imperialism and the defender of US imperialist interests in West Asia. In 1967, Israel occupied the Palestinian territories of West Bank and Gaza.
Since 2002, Israel has, been constructing a wall more than 700 km long, in an attempt to incorporate more of the Palestinian land under its control and greatly restricting the freedom of movement of the Palestinians. In addition, there are more than 700 road blocks across the West Bank with 140 checkpoints. About 70,000 Palestinians with Israeli work permits have to cross these checkpoints daily to go to work and back.
The Israeli state has been organising forcible transfer of the land of Palestinians to Jewish settlers. More than 6 lakh such settlers are currently living in more than 250 settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. These Israeli settlements are illegal under international law as they violate the Fourth Geneva Convention which prohibits an occupying power from transferring its population to the area it occupies.