Israel’s new government, under the long-serving President Benjamin Netanyahu, is overseeing an acceleration of Israel’s policy of physically erasing the Palestinian people from their historic homeland. Netanyahu’s government, staffed by Israeli politicians who openly call for the annexation of Palestinian land and the expulsion of Palestinian people, has launched one of its most brutal military operations in years. Israeli forces have stormed into Palestinian refugee camps, killing dozens of people. Young Palestinians, faced with Israel’s policy of annihilation, have retaliated with attacks of their own on Israeli settlers, the illegal occupiers of Palestinian land. The situation is a powder keg set to blow, and the Palestinian people face an almost guaranteed escalation of violence and death at the hands of the Israeli military. This situation cannot continue, and we must all call for an immediate end to Israel’s violent attacks!
Last spring, Israel launched a military operation named Project Breakwater, which saw Israeli troops storm into Palestinian territories, raiding refugee camps and cities, with the goal of militarily attacking Palestinian resistance fighters. Children and elderly people have been caught in the crossfire and killed. Homes and properties have been destroyed, and the streets filled with tear-gas, toxic “skunk” water, and other weapons. This has been a full-fledged military assault on an occupied people. Israel’s attacks have led to the highest death toll in the West Bank since the second intifada ended in 2005, with 225 Palestinians and 30 Israelis killed in 2022.
Israel’s Shift to the Right
The intensified military action on the part of Israel is the product of a new Israeli government. Extreme right-wing nationalists such as Itamar Ben-Gvir, who calls for extreme violent measures against Palestinians, became ministers in the new government. This victory for the right wing has led to a greater confidence on the part of armed settlers who harass, attack, and kill Palestinians with impunity. What’s more, Ben-Gvir, with the tacit support of the Netanyahu government, supports the deportation of 20 percent of Israel’s population who are Palestinian, calling them “disloyal.” The rest of Netanyahu’s appointments share similar hardline attitudes towards the Palestinians.
The Mask of Democracy Removed
To stabilize the regime and consolidate power, the Netanyahu government has called for the right of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, to overturn Supreme Court rulings. The Israeli Supreme Court is often the last legal resort of Palestinians to protect themselves, even if Israeli law discriminates against them. With control over the courts, the right-wing government would be able to unleash annexation laws, overturn rulings it did not like, and even manipulate further Israeli elections. Netanyahu himself, accused of bribery, theft, and fraud, would be protected by his right-wing allies in the Knesset. Many Israelis have demonstrated against Netanyahu with some of the largest demonstrations reaching nearly 100,000 (a large number for a country of ten million people). These Israelis are shocked by the consolidation of power by Netanyahu and his right-wing friends, and fear the increasingly conservative religious attitudes of the government, which have targeted LGBTQ Israelis, and argued for a greater role of religion in education and law.
This erosion of democracy is not surprising. Israel is already an apartheid country with 20 percent of the people in its territories denied fundamental rights and access to resources because they are Palestinian. One must also consider the five million Palestinians living under military occupation in Gaza and the West Bank with no rights whatsoever. With this move, Netanyahu’s government is simply removing the mask of democracy that Israel has always worn to hide the state’s true nature – it is a machine under which each and every government has enabled the military and illegal settlers to carry out a slow-motion genocidal erasure of the Palestinian people.
The U.S. is Complicit
With Israel’s mask removed, it is impossible not to see the true nature of the conflict. In the name of religious and ethnic superiority, the State of Israel, since its beginnings in 1948, has facilitated colonization of the region of Palestine and forced the removal of the Palestinian people. Under Netanyahu, it nakedly shows its purpose, justified by violent racists like Ben-Gvir. The retaliation that Palestinians undertake against settlers in Jerusalem or the West Bank, and the rockets that they have begun to fire from Gaza into Israel’s South, are inadequate but understandable responses to an intensified aggression on the part of Israel. The United States is complicit in bringing this situation into being. Since 1967, when Israel defeated Soviet-allied Egypt and proved its utility to the United States in the Cold War, the U.S. has been pumping billions of dollars of arms and economic aid into Israel’s coffers. Today, the U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken criticizes the Netanyahu government’s support of settlers, but there is no move to stifle the flow of money, no sanctions like those applied to Russia. The Netanyahu government may be lighting the fuse, but the U.S. provided much of the fuel for this explosion.
This Cannot Continue
It is clear that things cannot continue as they are forever. We must stand with the Palestinians and denounce the state of Israel. For those Israelis who oppose Netanyahu, the lesson should be clear. No people can be free who oppresses another. The brutal apparatus of military occupation, the violent settler movement, and the dehumanizing racist politics that makes these things possible have inevitably shaped Israeli society. The Palestinians are right to struggle by any means they see fit, but only an international struggle of the poor and working people of the Middle East, with international support, can reshape the region so that people can live in peace and security. One thing is certain, there can be no place for a colonial-settler state carrying out genocide. Down with the occupation! Down with the apartheid state of Israel!