The second Palestinian intifada, which started in 2000 after the final collapse of the Oslo accords, has won its first major victory – Israel has been forced to retreat from the Gaza Strip, dismantling settlements and evacuating settlers as it does so.
As of 12 September, 38 years of direct military occupation of Gaza came to an end as the last Jewish settlers and army vehicles moved out; but, before the land was turned over to the Palestinian Authority (PA), the zionists still had some spiteful tricks up their sleeve. Luxury housing was bulldozed to rubble and water to the settlements was turned off, leaving perfectly good crops to rot inside the state-of-the-art greenhouses. This sabotage took place in spite of the fact that the retreating Israelis had been paid around $14m to hand over assets by the ‘Economic Cooperation Foundation’, a non-governmental Israeli organisation that compensated settlers in order to persuade them to transfer the greenhouses to the Palestinians. Instead, the crops were left to die and around 25 percent of the greenhouses were dismantled and shipped back to Israel.
Although they have been forced to withdraw troops from the area itself, the occupation forces have retained for themselves the ‘right’ to send their forces into Gaza for ‘security’ reasons, both preventative and retaliatory. Meanwhile, Israel is keeping control of Gaza’s airspace and all its borders, both land and sea. Clearly, the zionists hope to transform the area, less than 400 sq km that is home to some 1.37 million Palestinians, from a liberated zone into a very large prison or Bantustan. Israeli control of Gaza’s borders, as well as affecting the free movement and sovereignty of the Palestinian people, also affects trade, putting the zionists in the position of dictating not only who the Palestinians can trade with, but, effectively, what prices they will get or pay. It is an economic stranglehold designed to keep the Palestinian economy flat on its back.
Settlement expansion in the West Bank
Meanwhile, Israel is continuing to grab Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank through the building of the illegal ‘security’ wall. So far, the frenzied expansion there has led to some 33 square kilometres being snatched by settlers. The assassinations of leading Palestinian figures (and anyone else who happens to be in the way) continues unabated, while the few prisoners actually released under the peace agreement have been compensated for by fresh arrests, resulting in a farcical situation whereby the zionist occupation forces are holding more Palestinian prisoners now then they were before the agreement to release them was signed.
The Israelis have never yet honoured an agreement with the Palestinians, and it is plain to see that they are continuing that dishonourable tradition. On the one hand, they are being seen to do just enough to stifle criticism, both international and internal, while, on the other, they are attempting to continue their occupation, albeit in a repackaged form.
The zionists are still in denial about that fact that heroic Palestinian resistance has forced them first to the negotiating table and now to withdrawal of troops and settlements from Gaza. In spite of the huge loss of Palestinian life, and in spite of the massive imbalance between the Palestinians’ small arms and Israel’s hi-tech, nuclear-equipped occupation army, the resistance has fought on, taking everything the zionist storm troopers have thrown at them and showing such commitment that large sections of Israeli society, having tasted the wrath of the Palestinian dispossessed, are now demanding peace.
Palestinian unity is paramount
The attempts by the PA to honour its side of the deal in spite of zionist intransigence have from time to time brought it into conflict with the Palestinian people, resulting in the sad spectacle of Palestinians fighting Palestinians, much to the glee of the zionists and their imperialist masters.
The armed struggle is not the only means of resistance to the occupation of Palestinian land, but neither is peaceful negotiation. Indeed, Yasser Arafat was a master of changing the tack of the struggle from armed resistance to negotiations and back again when necessary, and the Palestinian struggle requires that all the forces of resistance remember who their real enemy is. Having come so far in unity, we are sure that these seasoned liberation fighters will not let their people down by training their guns on each other, for that would only let the enemy off the hook and leave the Palestinian people with no protection. As the struggle develops, all sections of the resistance will need to recognise the need for changes in tactics at certain times.
For our part, we must give full support to the Palestinian people as they work towards their aims of a united Palestinian state, the release of all political prisoners, the right of Palestinians to return to their homes in what is now called Israel, the destruction of the apartheid wall, the removal of the zionist occupation forces from Palestinian land, the return of all land grabbed since 1967 and the withdrawal of all zionist occupation settlements.
Victory to the intifada!