By Dave Stockton
ON 3 JULYthe Israeli army launched a massive attack on Jenin in the northern West Bank with multiple drone strikes and at least one missile strike on a residential block. Residents said as many as 10 air attacks were launched early in the morning, sending smoke billowing from the wreckage of buildings.
A convoy of Israeli armoured vehicles was spotted moving towards the city’s vast refugee camp. The Palestinian Health Ministry said that at least eight Palestinians were killed and more than 20 others wounded as the raid was ongoing.
Palestinian ambulance driver Khaled Alahmad told Reuters: ‘What is going on in the refugee camp is real war. There were strikes from the sky targeting the camp, every time we drive in around five to seven ambulances, we come back full of injured people.’
Associated Press reports more than 140 Palestinians in the West Bank have been killed this year by Israeli fire. The huge camp is the location of the Jenin Battalion that includes fighters from Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad and has become the main locus of resistance. Ministers in Benjamin Netanyahu’s extreme right wing government, like National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, both linked to the far right settler movement, have been brazen about their aim to drive Palestinians from their land.
On 21 June Israeli settlers rampaged through the West Bank village of Turmus Ayya, torching 30 houses and 60 cars. This even drew condemnation from the Biden Administration, perhaps because the village is home to many Palestinian Americans.
Ali Abunimah, the founder of The Electronic Intifada website, reported on Al Jazeera:
‘Remember that Jenin and the northern West Bank, in general, are intensely subject to Israeli settler colonisation by the most fanatical settlers, who have been engaging in pogroms across the West Bank in recent weeks, aided and abetted and supported by the Israeli army and the Israeli government.’
He added that the attack was ‘in revenge for the increasing resistance to the settler invasion of the northern West Bank and the increasing record levels of theft of Palestinian land for colonial settlement’.
The settlement process was stepped up in the week or so before the attack on Jenin. Netanyahu announced he had approved 1,000 new settler homes in Eli, calling the move a ‘response to terror’. Shortly before this, the Israeli Defence Force’s civil administration approved plans for an additional 7,349 housing units in the West Bank, taking the total number of properties that have been given planning permission this year to 12,149.
National Security Minister Gvir, speaking at a settler outpost in Mount Sabah, called on the government to launch a widespread military campaign in the West Bank to clear land for the expansion of settlements.
There can be little doubt that, under this blatantly racist government, a whole new stage of mass dispossession (i.e. ethnic cleansing) is underway. It is also clear that the Western powers’ concern for democracy, loudly voiced over Ukraine, is muted when it comes to Palestine, aside from routine pleas to revive talks on the defunct ‘two states solution’. Israel is, more than ever, an expanding colonising state, which, insofar as it allows a minority of Palestinians to remain, is indeed an Apartheid-style racist state.
Meanwhile, its conservative, liberal and social democratic supporters in Europe and North America have waged a relentless campaign to smear all those who defend the Palestinians as anti-Semites. Their particular bête noir is the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which has made many aware of the bogus claim of Israel to be the ‘only democracy in the Middle East’.
Since Sir Keir Starmer’s election as leader of the Labour Party – a man who says he is ‘proud to call himself a Zionist’ – he has unleashed a witch-hunt of Palestinian supporters, including prominent Jewish opponents of Zionism (especially those in Jewish Voices for Labour). At least 35 recent party investigations into anti-Semitism have targeted Jewish individuals and 11 have been indefinitely suspended or expelled.
It is plain that the cause of a secular, bi-national, democratic and socialist Palestine – from the River to the Sea – is a litmus test of what being a revolutionary socialist and an anti-imperialist means in the 21st century.