Towards a new war in Gaza?

13 May, 2021

Images of war in Gaza
Images of war in Gaza

Israel and Hamas are back on the brink of war in Gaza. The dead are still counted by the dozens due to the crossed bombardments. Outbreaks of pogroms and civil violence appear riding the nationalist wave, and imperialisms near and far are trying to gain positions.

Table of Contents

What happened in Palestine

Ramallah, Fatah demonstration in support of "reconciliation" with Hamas.
Ramallah, Fatah demonstration in support of “reconciliation” with Hamas.

For months Egypt had been weaving with Hamas and the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) the groundwork for a peace plan with Israel opening up the prospect of some kind of normalization of daily life. Wary, but hopeful of relief, Palestinian workers who cross into Israel every day, waited attentively. A war in Gaza still seemed an undesirable and unlikely option for Hamas and the PNA.

However, the Biden administration’s change in regional strategy upended the process. For every US move toward Iran, there was a corresponding alienation of Saudi Arabia from the Egyptian strategy and a parallel reinforcement of Iran. With nothing clear to gain and more risks at stake, the various Arab imperialist interests were distancing themselves over the past few weeks.

Seeing his own back increasingly exposed against Iran and Hamas, and with Israel rejecting the Egyptian request to step up, PNA President Mahmoud Abbas canceled the Palestinian elections. A wave of anger and frustration spread among the PNA and Arab-Israeli populations, who also had their own reasons for doing so.

What happened in Israel

Israelis protest against Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu outside Prime Minister official residence in Jerusalem on July 25
Israelis protest against Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu outside Prime Minister official residence in Jerusalem on July 25

In Israel meanwhile the political apparatus of the Israeli bourgeoisie stagnated after staging four elections in less than two years. To charge Lapid with forming a government means for the Israeli state to entrust the way out of the crisis to an anti-Netanyahu agreement which requires bringing together religious and ultranationalist parties with the deputies of the Arab-Israeli minority. In other words, shattering the division of political roles that gives meaning to its political apparatus.

The stalemate is evidence of the divide among the ruling class but also of the impotence of an angry and increasingly violent petty bourgeoisie on both sides of the nationality and Knesset bloc divides. The clashes between religious ultras and the new generation of Palestinian Jerusalemite petty bourgeoisie on April 23 were a sign of what was to come: the danger of a new war in Gaza.

What happened in Jerusalem

European media insist on focusing the origin of the current bombings on a dispute over housing in an East Jerusalem neighborhood that is now being heard in court. The plot of land on which Palestinian families had built their homes in the 1950s had been bought by a fund possibly owned by an ultra group with origins in the US… which demanded to be able to evict the inhabitants in order to build.

The trial, ostensibly a private dispute between property owners, strains the Jerusalemite Palestinian bourgeoisie… which, though branded as Israelized by Palestinian nationalism, is defending its own local interests: basically not to be displaced from its increasingly valuable properties and businesses by the concentration of Jewish and Christian religious groups in the city.

With tensions rising, the Israeli government ended up banning Jerusalem Day demonstrations –which turned into full-blown youth gang fights – on the one hand, and preventing buses of Palestinian Muslims from all over Israel from reaching the capital to pray at Al Aqsa at the always contentious start of Ramadan on the other. The youth of the Jerusalemite petty bourgeoisie then mobilized to take the passengers in their own cars to a mosque which had been militarized at all its entrances and with the access from the PNA side closed.

A new revolt on identitarian basis of the Palestinian petty bourgeoisie having an impact on the whole of Israel was served. Clashes between army, police and demonstrators caused more than 50 wounded. The door to a new war in Gaza was reopening.

How did the situation go from a protest to shelling and war in Gaza

The war in Gaza... is not limited to Gaza. Refinery in flames in Ashkelon after being hit by a Hamas missile
The war in Gaza… is not limited to Gaza. Refinery in flames in Ashkelon after being hit by a Hamas missile

During the heat of the clashes at the opening of Ramadan there was no shortage of shouts calling out the Hamas militia chief. Nothing significant per se. But enough to encourage Hamas to use it. It would not be for lack of preparation, of course, neither military – over 850 missiles were launched almost immediately – nor political, because in the meantime, as one of the Israeli intelligence sources said:

Tehran had set up a joint war room at Hezbollah headquarters run by the Revolutionary Guard, Hezbollah and Palestinian Hamas, the Popular Front and Islamic Jihad. Intense efforts by Egypt, Jordan and Qatar to negotiate a cease-fire crashed unsuccessfully against this wall.

And the bombardment by the Iranian-created Palestinian coalition was followed by the Israeli army’s supposedly surgical response limited to the military arsenals of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, etc. The picture was one of a new war in Gaza. But, as the same article acknowledges:

The containment strategy does not allow for a knockout blow against the offensive capabilities of terrorist organizations. Their weapons stockpiles, rocket launch pads and commanders’ hideouts are safely buried in tunnels and underground bunkers and are therefore beyond the reach of aerial bombardment. Given that the strings of this crisis remain in Tehran’s hands, the immediate prospects for the current crisis are unclear.

Why and for what purpose an armed escalation is threatening a new war in Gaza

Hanadi Tower (Hamas HQ), Gaza, at the moment of being hit by an Israeli missile. Iconic image of the new war in Gaza.
Hanadi Tower (Hamas HQ), Gaza, at the moment of being hit by an Israeli missile. Iconic image of the new war in Gaza.

Even the US press realizes that this whole escalation, which seems about to lead to a new war in Gaza, is a complicity game that benefits the Palestinian and Israeli bourgeoisie at the cost of leaving dozens of corpses on both sides of the border.

By pushing the situation towards a war in Gaza, Hamas and the PNA cover up and rechannel Palestinian frustration into the, for them, safe terrain of nationalism and low-intensity warfare. The Arab Jerusalemite petty bourgeoisie gains political weight. Netanyahu presents himself again as a protector against the bombings of Hamas and Iran, thus gaining a little political breathing space that may allow him to survive in power. Iran tests the US and the alliances of Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Jordan with Israel… And knocks Egypt out of the game.

A win-win business. Once again, everyone wins with a war in Gaza. Everyone except the workers, who provide the dead and like every morning, are forced to restart the perverse cycle in which their exploitation will fatten the Palestinian bourgeoisie as much as the Israeli bourgeoisie.

Read also: Is there a national solution for Israel/Palestine? (in English), 8/12/2017

The bloody farce of the people and the nation

Lod this morning following the burning of a synagogue and the attempted burning of a Muslim cemetery. The war in Gaza threatens to generate a wave of nationalist violence.
Lod this morning following the burning of a synagogue and the attempted burning of a Muslim cemetery. The war in Gaza threatens to generate a wave of nationalist violence.

Whenever discontent with the Palestinian or Israeli ruling classes threatens to spark some class expression, the petty bourgeoisie attempts its own move. If it succeeds, it can get no further than to revitalize the national divide that is the basis of big business for both bourgeoisies. When it succeeds in doing so, it not only pushes a new generation of workers to the slaughterhouse, it also opens the door for other imperialist capitals, neighboring or distant, to come in, arm and aggravate the slaughter serving their own interests.

This new flare-up of war in Gaza is yet another version of the same old play. Today the killing continues and in Lod it seems to have devolved into civilian clashes and reciprocal pogrom attempts. The government has declared a state of siege to curb the horror before it loses control.

What we are seeing is not a particular situation in Palestine and Israel. Anywhere in the world, following the nation means submitting ourselves to the interests of national capital, and following the people means submission to the political command the petty bourgeoisie would like to provide the nation with. The needs of national capital are the same everywhere: to exploit us more in order to revive its collapsing profits. What the petty bourgeoisie needs is a bigger piece of the profit pie obtained at our expense. For the workers to dissolve in the nation or in the people is to take, in one way or another, the road to the slaughterhouse.