The Israeli assault on Gaza, the tiny enclave of 2.2 million people on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, is a humanitarian catastrophe. This is a war, by one of the world’s most powerful armies on a civilian population. It is supposedly a response to the attacks by Hamas on October 7, which killed 1400 Israeli citizens and soldiers and kidnapped 220. The Israeli government is using its arsenal of advanced weapons against a people who are trapped in what the United Nations has called “the world’s largest open-air prison.” Israel’s goal is genocide, to wipe out the Palestinian people.
About two weeks ago the Israeli government gave the residents of the northern part of Gaza 24 hours to evacuate the area and move to the south. They were warned that a full scale attack on Hamas, the political party that holds power in Gaza, would begin in the north. Tens of thousands of people tried to leave, carrying what they could, walking on roads that had been destroyed by Israeli bombs. Or, if they had fuel, riding in whatever vehicles were available. As they made their way south, many were met by Israeli bombs. Some died, some continued, and some returned to their homes in the north, preferring to die in familiar surroundings.
Life is impossible in Gaza. An estimated 1.4 million people have been internally displaced. Israel has cut off the flow of essential supplies: food, water, medical supplies and fuel used to power generators and for cooking. Many are without enough to eat or drink. Most essential goods: food, water, medical supplies, fuel for generators and cooking are brought in by trucks from Egypt. Israel blocked the trucks for weeks and only recently allowed them in again. In the past week, fewer than 80 trucks have been allowed in. Usually 500 truckloads of supplies came in daily.
This is a humanitarian crisis. Infants in incubators will die. Doctors are conducting operations without anesthesia, and don’t even have the antiseptics to clean their hands or their instruments. Hospitals and ambulances have been targeted by the Israeli military.
Bombing raids are constant. More than 8000 people have been killed, close to 3500 of them are children. An estimated 1500 people are missing – quite possibly buried in the rubble of what used to be their homes. And more than 19,000 people have been wounded. About 45 per cent of all housing units in the Gaza Strip have been destroyed or damaged.
This war seems far from the U.S. but it is a U.S. war – fully backed by almost all the politicians in Washington, carried out in our name with our tax dollars. U.S. military aircraft have delivered ammunition to Israel in support of this war on Gaza. Two U.S. aircraft carriers have been deployed to the area. Together they can carry a total of more than 135 F/A18 fighter jets. The aircraft carriers are accompanied by guided-missile cruisers and destroyers. This massive flotilla has been sent to the region to back up Israel’s assault on Gaza and to threaten any other forces that might consider getting involved in the defense of the Palestinians.
The attack on the people of Gaza by the Israeli military has intensified. On Friday, Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, announced the beginning of what he called “the second phase of the war.” That night hundreds of bombs were dropped, tanks and ground troops invaded. Hundreds of people were killed, whole neighborhoods were reduced to rubble. The death and destruction we have seen for the past 20 days is unimaginable. With increased bombing and the invasion of tanks and ground forces, it will be even worse.
We cannot ignore this tragedy. We are involved. Our tax dollars are supporting this. The politicians who claim to represent us are issuing fierce declarations of war. In the past weeks people around the world, including in the U.S., have taken to the streets. This opposition was reflected in the vote in the United Nations when a large majority of the representatives voted for a cease fire and immediate humanitarian aid for the people of Gaza. Now is our time to join those in the streets in doing everything we can to organize, to demonstrate to oppose this war.
There are demonstrations organized for Nov. 4 in San Francisco and Washington D.C. and elsewhere. Check our website, speakoutsocialists.org, for updates and future demonstrations and meetings.
We must all organize to oppose this genocidal war!