By Fiona Edwards
Despite the declaration of a 72 hours ceasefire this morning Israel resumed its indiscriminate air strikes and shelling of Gaza and today killed dozens of Palestinians.
More than 1,450 Gazans have now been killed, including hundreds of children and more than 8,000 have been injured.
More than 230,000 Palestinians have been displaced and Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza strip has seen homes, hospitals and United Nations Schools designated by the UN as a shelters for refugees destroyed.
Small glimpses into the horror inflicted against by Israel against the besieged people of Gaza have been caught on camera and revealed to the world by international news channels, including reliable coverage on Al Jazeera and Telesur.
Given the many images and much footage of Palestinian children being killed by Israel, its Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reached a new low and suggested the Palestinians want all these deaths so they can use the ‘telegenically dead’ to assist their cause.
The US fully stands behind Israel in this offensive and is currently re-supplying it with weapons so the attacks can continue. The criticisms the US makes of some of the Israeli massacres are part of the US public relations campaign to distract attention from the real policy it is pursuing.
As the UN Human Rights Chief, Navi Pillay, has explained, the US provides Israel with huge military support:
‘They [the US] have not only provided the heavy weaponry which is now being used by Israel in Gaza but they’ve also provided almost $1 billion in providing the “Iron Domes” to protect the Israelis from rocket attacks. But no such protection has been provided to Gazans against the shelling.’
The UK is also arming Israel. The UK government arms export licenses to Israel were worth £180m in the period 2008-2012 and provided Israel with F16 fighter jet components, assault rifles, armoured vehicles and ammunition.
Israel benefits from the military and political backing of some of the most powerful states in the world, but amongst the world’s populations Israel is becoming increasingly politically isolated.
Internationally, solidarity with Gaza is on the rise. Outside of the Middle East, Latin American is leading the way and stands in the vanguard of a growing international movement.
El Salvador, Chile, Peru, Brazil and Ecuador have all recalled their ambassadors from Israel, while Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Uruguay and Paraguay have suspended the Free Trade Agreements talks with Israel.
Earlier this week Bolivian President Evo Morales condemned Israel as a ‘terrorist state.’ Morales’ assessment is based on Israel deliberately shelling civilian hospitals, schools and refuges in Gaza.
UN officials have pointed out that they had repeatedly given details of the UN schools that have been bombed to the Israeli army, making clear that these schools were housing refugees – so the Israeli army would have known the exact co-ordinates of the UN Schools they have attacked, resulting in the massacring of dozens of Palestinian children. In deliberately targeting civilians, Israel aim is to terrorise the population of Gaza into submission.
Venezuela and Bolivia ended diplomatic ties with Israel following Israel’s huge assault on Gaza in 2009, which resulted in over 1,400 Palestinians being killed.
Inspiration for Latin America’s breaking with Israel over its horrific crimes against the Palestinians can be traced back to Cuba, which ended links with Israel in 1973 and has not looked back since.
The African National Congress (ANC) has expelled the Israeli ambassador from South Africa – and in doing so taken steps that reflect Nelson Mandela’s view that ‘we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.’
Millions of people across the world have taken to the streets to join huge protests against Israel’s war on Gaza during late July.
Millions of people were reported to have turned out in Iran in hundreds of cities and town, including a hundreds of thousands strong rally in Tehran. Protests have also taken place in Turkey, Jordon, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Algeria, Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Thailand, Japan, Australia, and India and in many European countries.
Meanwhile in Britain, we have witnessed the biggest ever mobilisation with in solidarity with Palestine – topping the huge demonstrations in 2008/09 that took place against Israel’s ‘Operation Cast Lead’.
During the past few weeks a coalition of organisations led by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, alongside Stop the War Coalition, Friends of Al Aqsa and CND organised a national demonstration that brought 100,00 people outside the Israeli Embassy in London. One week later on Saturday 26 July, 50,000 people marched once again through the streets of London, whilst at the same time tens of thousands more protested in towns and cities across the country from Bradford to Birmingham, to Edinburgh and Cardiff.
Whilst the Palestinians have huge international support, the situation they face is incredibly difficult. The Palestinians are confronting an Israel that is armed with the world’s most modern and sophisticated weaponry, including nuclear weapons, and is backed by the most powerful and deadly imperialist power of all time, the US.
Despite a courageous few thousand Israelis that have staged protests in Tel Aviv against Israel’s war on Gaza, Prime Minister Netanyahu currently enjoys a huge 74% approval rating amongst Israelis at a time when the IDF is slaughtering hundreds of Palestinians children.
The immediate demands of Palestinians in Gaza are clear: end the killing and end the siege on Gaza, which for 7 years has trapped 1.7 million Palestinians in a tiny strip of land.
In the West, progressive people need to press on our governments to stop supporting and arming Israel, build the demonstrations and vigorously campaign in support of the Palestinian demands.