“War is a continuation of politics by other means.” This famous dictum of Clausewitz is now universally accepted, and is graphically illustrated by the fascist, zionist state of Israel as it adds yet more horrendous crimes to its already horrific record.
The latest Israeli aggression against Lebanon and Gaza is a continuation of the politics of US imperialism through the agency of Israeli zionism. The present aim is the liquidation of the resistance presently led by Hamas to the occupation of the land of Palestine, the annexing of more of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley, and the destruction of Hizbollah, enabling the installation in Lebanon of a puppet government completely subservient to imperialist demands.
Attempts to defeat Hamas
Israel’s motives for the bombardment of Gaza have little to do with the professed ‘concern’ for the return of gunner Shalit, but everything to do with destroying the authority of the democratically-elected Palestinian government headed by Hamas. Many commentators support the remarks made by Dr Riyadh Mansour, the Permanent Observer of Palestine to the UN Security Council, on Friday 30 June that the Israeli invasion “was clearly pre-meditated and planned” weeks if not months before the capture of Gilad Shalit. Dr Mansour added that the bombardment and military assault were clearly designed to “punish and terrorise the civilian population”. (See ‘Israel’s infrastructure warfare’ by Mike Whitney, www.informationclearinghouse.info, 2 July 2006)
One must recall that, ever since the election of 25 June in the Palestinian territories brought Hamas into office, all the hypocritical lovers of ‘democracy’ have sought to undermine the Palestinian Authority (PA) led by Hamas. Whereas the Carter Centre, which monitored the three most recent Palestinian elections, judged them all to be “honest, fair and peaceful, with the results accepted by winners and losers” , the US, EU and Israel have set about sabotaging the legal representation of the Palestinian people.
Those who installed a puppet regime in Iraq will not recognise a democratically elected one because it does not suit their interests to do so. Hamas had stated that it will not recognise Israel unless Israel (a) recognises Palestinian national rights, (b) vacates the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, and (c) accepts the principle that no changes can be made to the pre-1967 borders without prior Palestinian agreement (UN Resolution 242).
So the US and EU blocked funding to the PA, Israel blocked tax transfers worth $50m a month and put pressure on banks to restrict access to non-cash funds, thus attempting to starve the 1.4 million people of Gaza (so that 81 percent now exist below the poverty line). It continued to bombard the tiny enclave (only a few miles long and one of the most densely populated areas in the world) with more than 5,000 shells, in spite of Hamas observing a ceasefire for nearly 18 months.
Finally, on 9 June, when an Israeli warship fired on picnicking families on a Gaza beach and the whole world was horrified at the sight of 12-year-old Huda Ghalia screaming for her massacred family, the military wing of Hamas deemed it pointless to go on observing the one-sided ceasefire.
Following two weeks in which Israeli attacks killed at least 14 Palestinians, a group of seven or eight armed Palestinians belonging to three organisations, including the armed wing of Hamas, entered Israel through a tunnel dug under the border fence that surrounds Gaza and attacked an Israeli watchtower, a tank and another vehicle. In the ensuing fight two of the four-strong tank crew were killed and the gunner, Corporal Gilad Shalit, was taken prisoner in the cross border raid.
In response to Israeli demands for Shalit’s release, the Palestinians demanded the release of at least some of the more than 10,000 Palestinians languishing in Israeli dungeons and concentration camps. As talks concerning a prisoner exchange continued, through Arab mediators, the three Palestinian groups suggested that Shalit be exchanged for the Palestinian women prisoners and the many children under 18. The zionist prime minister, Ehud Olmert, still refused to negotiate and instead Israeli tanks and special units amassed on the borders of Gaza.
With cynical dishonesty, the zionist leadership has tried to propagate the myth that, while Israel would like to negotiate with the Palestinians, it cannot do so because of the absence of the ‘correct’ leaders. The truth is they will not negotiate, be it with an Arafat-led PA, a Hamas led-PA or even the mediators for prisoner exchange, but will only dictate terms.
A few days before the June aggression, Hamas and Fatah had worked out a joint statement implicitly recognising Israel. The statement called for a Palestinian state to be set up alongside Israel, accepting the 2002 proposal endorsed by the Arab League, and called on resistance groups to limit attacks to area captured by Israel in the 1967 war. This announcement (on 27 June), like so many previous attempts to ‘negotiate’ with Israel, has been blatantly ignored – the planned bombardment by Israel started soon after.
Reinvasion of Gaza: ‘Operation Summer Rain’
During the early hours of 28 June, the Israeli Occupation Force launched massive aerial destruction (code-named Operation Summer Rain), starting in southern Gaza, which destroyed vital roads and bridges, the Gaza City power station etc, the latter leaving 860,000 residents, and their hospitals and schools, without electricity or running water. This outrage was followed by a ground offensive using tanks and bulldozers, which not only destroyed homes and community facilities and killed 51, including 20 children, but also razed farmlands to the ground, thus attempting to reduce even further the population’s already limited means of survival.
On 29 June, the Israelis had the audacity to arrest half of the elected government of Palestine and a quarter of its elected MPs – eight cabinet ministers, 30 MPs and 30 others. The arrests of Hamas government officials in the West Bank, including the Mayor of Qalqiliya, demonstrated further the true nature of US/zionist commitment to ‘democratic values’. The Israeli paper Ha’aretz confirmed that arresting the government officials had been pre-planned and that Shalit’s capture was only used as a cover to enable Israel to achieve its broad aim of disabling Hamas.
The occupation forces also continued to use sonic booms to terrify civilians, following Olmert’s order that no one should be able to “sleep at night” in Gaza. However, by July, it was the Israeli civilians who were realising that they too could not “sleep at night” so long as their country remained at war with the people of Palestine and Lebanon!
Words fail: ordinary terms are inadequate to describe yet again the horrors Israel perpetrates, and has done for decades. The zionist leaders “no longer recognise any boundaries, geographical or moral” wrote Israeli intellectual and anti-zionist Michel Warschawski in 2004. (Towards an Open Tomb: The Crisis of Israeli Society)
Israel is lashing out as it finds that all attempts to beat the Palestinians into submission and swallow Palestine are yet again being thwarted by a resilient, dignified Palestinian people, who refuse to submit quietly and give up resistance to Israel’s arrogance. Warschawski goes on to foresee the end of the zionist enterprise, as Israel self-destructs, nearing a catastrophe of its own making.
In spite of 12 days of heavy land and air bombardment (at the time of writing), the Palestinian people are still strongly supporting the stance of Hamas: 77 percent back the capture of Shalit; 67 percent support further abductions, and 69 percent agree that he should only be released in exchange for Palestinian prisoners, according to a poll conducted by the Jerusalem Media and Communication Centre.
An American war
Israel would have had to make peace with the Palestinians long ago if it did not have the backing of imperialism, in particular US imperialism, which, at a modest estimate, has given some $140bn to Israel since the second world war, much of it in armaments – F16s and Apache military helicopters to name but a few. Thus this heavily armed military and nuclear base, Israel, has done the bidding of America in the Middle East for decades, and the recent carnage shows all the signs of being a continuation of that pattern.
Britain, too, is heavily involved in supporting the zionist statelet. Arms exports to Israel approved by the British government totalled £22.5m last year, almost twice the amount in 2004, according to the latest annual report on strategic export controls published by four government departments. And, just recently while British people were demonstrating in their thousands against the atrocities in Lebanon, on 22/23 July, ‘our’ government allowed US planes transporting bunker-busting bombs on route to Israel to land at Prestwick airport in Scotland for refuelling.
Further, companies familiar to all in Britain – Tesco, Waitrose, M&S, Connex, etc, etc – are doing lucrative deals to import Israeli goods produced on occupied Palestinian lands and thus help build settlements and railways to extend illegal Israeli occupations further into the West Bank.
Two weeks after the capture of Corporal Shalit, a cross-border skirmish between Israel and Lebanon led to the capture of two more Israeli soldiers by Hizbollah on 12 July. Again, no prisoner exchange was even considered by Israel, which instead began a huge military barrage of southern Lebanon – quite clearly pre-planned and equally clearly with the full backing of US imperialism.
The real reason for US-supported aggression was quite different from the stated one. This invasion had been meticulously planned for since 2005, with the aim of eliminating Hizbollah as a fighting force. The aim of weeks of relentless genocidal shelling of Lebanese towns and villages was, as a former Knesset member said: “to change the regime in Lebanon and to install a puppet government. That was the aim of Ariel Sharon’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982. It failed … As in 1982, the present occupation, too, was planned and is being carried out in full coordination with the US.” (‘The real aim’ by Uri Avnery, www.informationclearinghouse.info, 15 July 2006)
So instead of negotiating a prisoner exchange, Israel, the US’s middle eastern Rottweiler bombed to smithereens the villages of southern Lebanon and then decimated parts of the city of Beirut in ‘Operation Just Reward’.
Felicity Arbuthnot’s description gives an indication of the horror that unfolded: “Bridges connecting the country and the roads to Syria are blitzed, along with homes and lives. The country is blockaded from land to sea, the population trapped like fish in a barrel.
“Eye-witnesses have described ‘near-apocalyptic scenes’ of bombings. Whole families have been wiped out – ‘a 10-month old and six family members’ in Baflay village, near the biblical city of Tyre. ‘A baby sliced in three, the body parts hanging from olive trees’ from the force of the blast. A burnt toddler in two pieces on a burnt mattress in a burnt-out house. A convoy of those told to flee by Israel was bombed. In one vehicle, 20 were killed. Fifteen were children, most of them reportedly vaporised.” (‘Middle East’s life support switched off’, Morning Star, 20 July)
In just the first six days of the Israeli ‘operation’, 230 people were killed, all but 26 being civilians, with hundreds wounded and thousands made homeless. As these figures rise, the Israeli military is banking on Hizbollah’s fighting capacity (weapons and militia) being decimated. It is also basing its expectation of victory on the hope that the Lebanese population will get furious with Hizbollah and press their government to fulfil Israel’s demand of disarming the south Lebanese resistance movement. Since the elected government of Lebanon includes 14 Hizbollah MPs and others, including President Emile Lahoud, with a strong record of hostility to US bullying, the possibility of that plan coming to fruition is unlikely, as is any plan that the US may entertain of forcing the Lebanese to hold new, ‘more democratic’, elections that will install a puppet government.
The spirit of resistance
In fact, after weeks of genocidal bombing, the Lebanese people are furious not with Hizbollah but with the invaders who have demolished the homes and society that had so recently been rebuilt following decades of imperialist-inspired occupation and war. Moreover, they are proud of the defiant stand of the resistance.
As Uri Avnery goes on to say in the previously cited article: “Hizbollah has carried out its soldier-snatching raid at a time when the Palestinians are crying out for succour. The Palestinian cause is popular all over the Arab world. By showing that they are a friend in need, when all other Arabs are failing dismally, Hizbollah hopes to [and surely will!] increase its popularity.”
Even with all its superior aerial fire-power, long-range weapons and psychological warfare tactics (such as sending demoralising message to civilians’ mobile phones), the US-Israeli attempt to eliminate Hizbollah is failing. Lt Gen Dan Halutz, Israel’s Chief of Staff, and his advisors have been stunned by the failure of the air war against Hizbollah, which has shrugged off massive bombings against its supposed bases and maintained the rocket war against northern Israel. Some 82 rockets were launched by Hizbollah on 25 July alone (two weeks after the Israeli aggression was launched).
“Air power is not the answer here,” a senior Israeli ‘Defence’ Force (IDF) officer said. “You have to go from one Hizbollah [weapons] bunker to another. Some of them are buried over seven meters deep and can’t be destroyed by aircraft, even if you can find them.”
WorldTribune.com reported on 21 July that “Military leaders were convinced that with the superior communications and air power they did not even need new US ‘bunker buster’ munitions to root out terror leaders in underground hideaways. Earlier this year, Israel decided against purchasing them from the US. But as Brig Gen Ido Nehughton said: ‘We are fighting a much more capable [Hizbollah] terror organisation which practically holds a sword to our neck and has 12 percent of the Israeli population living in shelters and paralyses the entire northern part of the country.” (‘Israel’s military stunned by failure of air war’)
The prospect of ground fighting and its effects on the morale of Israeli soldiers and civilians was summed up by the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs: “Israel may be forced to send in substantial ground forces … This real possibility would have far-reaching implications in terms of potential losses for the IDF.” (19 July 2006)
By Saturday 22 July, ground operations, codenamed ‘Steel Threads’, increased as Israel attempted to capture the village of Maroun al-Ras, with the loss of five soldiers in heavy fighting during which Hizbollah nimbly moved from tunnel to tunnel in an organised mobile battle plan. According to Jane’s Weekly, Hizbollah has “done a perfect Vietcong” , its fighters operating in a network of underground reinforced bunkers and command posts almost unassailable by IDF bombs.
Not surprisingly, the New York Times was at the same time reporting that “US speeds up bomb delivery for the Israelis” . Officials speaking on condition of anonymity told of a “multimillion-dollar arms sale package … for satellite and laser-guided bombs” , probably 100 GBU-28s, which are 5,000lb laser guided bombs intended to destroy concrete bunkers. (David Cloud and Helen Cooper, 22 July 2006)
Far from destroying Hizbollah support, its political and military prestige is rising high among the Lebanese people, and among progressives worldwide, because of its heroic role in a resistance movement that bombs back against the zionist war machine and is bringing the horrors of war to the doorsteps of Israeli houses.
The impact of the Lebanese invasion is now being felt by Israeli residents too. By 24 July, 24 Israeli soldiers and 17 Israeli civilians had died and over 360 Israelis were wounded. Daily life in parts of Israel has dramatically changed; conditions that have been a ‘normal’ part of life for Palestinian civilians for decades are beginning to be felt, particularly in Haifa.
Raffi Berg described the scene in Haifa as follows for BBC News Online: “Wailing sirens warning of an incoming missile send people hurrying for underground bomb shelters, not knowing where the next rocket might land. When the rockets are not falling on Haifa, the sound of rumbling can be heard in the distance, echoes of explosions as missiles rain down on neighbouring towns and villages.” (‘Fear and stoicism in Haifa’, 19 July 2006)
The bustling capital of the north has suddenly found itself on the front line of a conflagration and the strain is starting to show. Despite fears for their safety, the majority of Israelis were still showing strong support their government’s ‘war against terror [resistance]’, but one wonders for how long.
The BBC report also quotes bookseller Shmual Gulden: “The army say they’re destroying Hizbollah’s capability but it has not got any better here.”
Added to which, the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in the 1982 war haunts Israelis in the same way that Vietnam figures in the American collective memory. Despite robust public approval for the Israeli offensive, the memory of that invasion keeps Israelis fretful about another ground war against a determined guerrilla force.
“We shouldn’t insert our soldiers into such a massacre,” one Haifa resident declared after an army colleague was killed last week when Hizbollah struck an Israeli naval craft off the shore of Beirut. “We should rely on air power.” (Cited in ‘In Lebanon strife, memories of past war for Israel’ by Joshua Mitnick, Christian Science Monitor, 25 July 2006)
What US imperialism wants
When US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says the US wants a “New Middle East” that “strengthens the forces of peace and democracy in the region”, in the usual US doublespeak, she actually means it wants one that weakens the forces for peace and democracy.
The present US-backed carnage has been aimed at destroying democratic states and strengthening a fascistic state: destroying democratically elected Palestinian and Lebanese governments because they have actively resisted US aggression; intimidating Syria into weakening its support for resistance movements, and enabling the fascist zionist state to strengthen and enlarge its settlements, particularly in the fertile Jordan valley and East Jerusalem, while attention is focused on Lebanon and Gaza.
Besides Israel’s role as an imperialist gendarme defending imperialist oil interests in the Middle East, a specific issue currently at stake for imperialism is the hoped-for development of a new pipeline from Kirkuk, in Iraqi Kurdistan, through Jordan to Haifa, which would enable the rich resources of Iraq to be brought out by another route, so keeping the US oil guzzlers content and its war machines well fuelled.
Back in 2005, the San Francisco Chronicle reported a “three-week plan” that would begin to put in practice the US scheme for a “new Middle East” . The three weeks in Lebanon were calculated as: Week 1 – destroy Hizbollah command centres; Week 2 – destroy weapons caches; and Week 3 – use ground forces to attack any other targets previously discovered during reconnaissance. According to the US plan, with Hizbollah destroyed in three weeks, Syria would become vulnerable to US pressure.
Three weeks after the actual pounding of Lebanon began, as in Iraq, the course of events is not running according to plan – the reality is far more costly than the US and Israel had imagined.
Wednesday 26 July may yet be seen as a significant turning point in the present war. In Lebanon, growing evidence shows that the ground battle was far tougher than expected, as house-to-house and village-to-village fighting continued. On 26 July, Israeli troops suffered their highest death toll in a single day – 14 soldiers were killed and many more badly wounded.
Meanwhile, the rocket attacks continued on the north of Israel in spite of thousands of air strikes, cluster bombs and phosphorus agents rained down by the Israeli air force. The number of rocket attacks, far from decreasing, actually increased – well over 100 rockets hit northern Israel on 26 July. (Details from The Guardian, 27 July 2006)
While the above bodes ill for the US and Israel, savage attacks and resistance to zionist occupation has also continued in Gaza. On the same day, 50 Israeli tanks and bulldozers flattening orchards and eight air strikes were perpetrated against Palestinians, but at the same time, three Israeli armoured vehicles were destroyed by the resistance.
And it was on 26 July that the much-heralded ‘peace conference’ took place in Rome, This unrepresentative gathering failed to agree on the necessity of calling for an immediate ceasefire due to the intransigence of the US and Britain, who continued to authorise the onslaught by the Israeli army, overriding calls by 13 other countries, as well as UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, for such a ceasefire.
The growing disquiet among Israeli civilians as they crouch in air-raid shelters in Haifa, as the death toll rises and with it the fear that their loved ones may be called up to fight in what they call the ‘swamp’ of Lebanon, was reflected by Israeli radio saying that this day marked a “potential turning point” for public opinion, which has so far been in favour of the war. The Israeli public is beginning to recognise that Israel is very, very far from achieving any victory, let alone a decisive victory.
Zionist Prime Minister Olmert signalled that he would now be prepared to make do with “weakening” Hizbollah rather then the original goal of completely destroying it.
Reality is starting to sink in, and leading zionists are beginning to recognise that Israel will not be able to destroy Hizbollah. Moshe Arens, former Likud defence minister, told Ha’aretz news that “Nasrallah [Hizbollah’s leader] will be seen as someone who fired thousands of Katyushas at Israeli communities for weeks and came out unscathed.”
From fighting talk about extending Israeli influence up to the Litani river (13 miles away from the present border), the Israeli goals now seem to be more about a one-mile buffer zone!
Talks of buffer zones, green lines, red lines and every other conceivable kind of zone between Israel and its Arab neighbours will all come to nought, if the core conflict between Palestine and Israel is not resolved with recognition of at least the 1967 borders of Palestine.
We conclude this article by reproducing the following apposite quotation written towards the end of the last Lebanon war:
“This war has also furnished proof that, notwithstanding its destructive power, its superiority in weapons, the full imperialist support it enjoys, zionism can never vanquish the Arab people’s resistance and their struggle for national liberation and self-determination. With each succeeding war of aggression, zionism has emerged humiliated and weakened. The 1982 invasion of Lebanon, which was supposed to bring peace to Galilee, merely served to make that peace even more unachievable than before. All subsequent wars have merely exacerbated the problem instead of solving it. There is only one way Israel can get peace, that is, by recognising the right of the Palestinian people, as well as that of its neighbours, to self-determination, national sovereignty and freedom from aggression and bullying. Failing this, the fight between oppressed peoples defending their homes and the right to national self-determination, on the one hand, and a settler state backed to the hilt by the world’s most powerful imperialist marauders, on the other hand, will continue. And despite all the zigzags of the struggle and the vicissitudes of fortune, in the final analysis it can only end one way – in the defeat of the reactionary and the victory of the revolutionary forces.” (‘The utter defeat of Grapes of Wrath’ from Imperialism in the Middle East by Harpal Brar)
Support the right of self-determination of the Palestinian people and of the Lebanese people!
Victory to the resistance movements in Palestine and Lebanon!