The Israel Defense Force has launched a barrage of deaths in Gaza. In barely two months, over 18,600 people civilians have been killed. About 70% of them are women and children. And over 1.9 million people have been displaced, their homes destroyed.
Mass protests have taken place across the world to protest this unfolding genocide. On 12 December, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) passed a resolution demanding a ceasefire. Despite all these, Israel continues to rain bombs on Gaza.
In Nigeria, many people, particularly Christians, saw Israel’s action as justified when it started, claiming it was revenge for 7 October.
But the genocidal campaign that Israel is waging has nothing to do with religion. Nor did it start with the Hamas attacks. 7 October is merely being used as an excuse to continue the 100-year-old Zionist project of seizing the land of Palestine and driving out Palestinians.
The state of Israel was established in 1948 on the blood of Arab people who had lived in Palestine for centuries. It was one of the worst cases of ethnic cleansing in history. 15,000 Palestinians were massacred. 531 Palestinian villages were destroyed. More than 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes and turned into refugees or second-class citizens in the Occupied Territories of their land. And they were denied the right to ever return, or be genuinely considered as citizens. Palestinians describe this series of events as the Nakba (catastrophe).
But these did not break the spirit of freedom in the hearts of the Palestinian people. For decades they never ceased to fight back. Israel always met their resistance with ruthless force, as it is doing now on a horrific scale. And it kept expanding Israeli settlements.
This triggered the first Intifada which lasted six years in 1987. The protesters’ stones were met with Israeli bullets. For the first time, there was a global condemnation of Israeli aggression, including by the United Nations Security Council, but this was not backed with any action.
To stem the tide of worldwide denunciation, Israel entered into secret talks with the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO), for the first time since it seized Palestinian land. This led to the Oslo Accords between 1993 and 1995, which was supposed to initiate a peace process.
For the state of Israel, the entire process was a ruse. It was merely scheming to give the Palestinian middle-class farcical authority, as the Palestinian National Authority. The aim was to tame the revolutionary fervour of the working people and youths who wanted to free Palestine, while Israel continued with the expansion of its settler colonialist project.
Hamas was founded in the heat of that Intifada, emerging from the Muslim Brotherhood. While strikes and demonstrations were at the heart of the Intifada, they stood for a strategy of individual terror attacks. But the group rose to political power in Gaza, in the 2000s, because of the constituency of its stand against Israeli occupation, unlike the vacillating politics of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation.
A lot of people including radical activists have condemned Hamas’ 7 October terror attacks, arguing that these justify or at least gave room for Israel to unleash its wanton reign of terror.
But, that is a lame excuse. Israeli is basically utilising it as a questionable rationale for genocide, which it has perpetuated since the Nakba. And it is emboldened to do so because of its role as the key outpost of United States imperialism in the Middle East.
7 October should also be seen within the context of the Abraham Accords which leading Arab countries were entering into with Israel. These risked relegating the Palestinian question to the background.
Revolutionary socialists are quite clear that the emancipation of exploited and oppressed people can be won only with the struggle of the working class, including strikes and mass insurrection. But, while we are critical of individual terror tactics in general, we must give unconditional support to the struggle of oppressed people fighting for their liberation from a colonising power, by any means necessary. Concrete support for the right to self-determination of Palestine must include support for their “right to wage armed struggle against the Israeli settler colonial state.”
In its “look into decades of oppression and domination” of Palestinians, Amnesty International clearly showed that Israel is committing the crime of apartheid, to benefit Jewish Israelis.
We can draw parallels from the South African anti-apartheid movement. Activists across the world gave unconditional support to the people’s struggle in South Africa, including the ANC’s armed struggle with Umkhonto we Sizwe. Anti-Black apartheid was defeated with mass strikes and monumental demonstrations against apartheid in South Africa, supported by solidarity actions across the world.
The beginning of a similar moment is emerging from the rubble of the Israeli state’s destruction of Gaza. Palestinian national groups, trade unions and civil society organisations organised a general strike and mass protests in the second week of December. A Global General Strike for Gaza was also held on 12 December, demanding Israel stops its bombardment. The call did not receive much response but sowed a seed.
We call on unions in Nigeria and the trade union centres (Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress), to stand up for Palestine and make Nigerian workers’ voices heard in this struggle to stop genocide and fight for the liberation of Palestine as we did in the struggle to free South Africa of apartheid. The struggle to free Palestine is cardinal to the global end of colonialism, towards the emancipation of the exploited and oppressed across the world. “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”
by Baba AYE