What has been happening in Palestine?

  Hebron youths clashing with Israeli soldiers

A friend has emailed to ask what is happening here. The Palestinians are striving for their freedom, and the Zionist Israeli state is determined to continue taking their land from them. I don't know what final solution the Zionists are pursuing, whether expulsion of the Palestinians from the occupied territories into surrounding countries, or allowing them to stay in crowded ghettos in a small proportion of what was allocated to them by the UN in 1947.

The recent exchange of aerial weapons between Gaza and Israel is certainly an escalation of what had been going on previously. Israeli publicity and our media have concentrated on the rockets coming out of Gaza, but for a long time there has been a much heavier bombardment from the Israeli side into Gaza from air, land and sea.

The assassination of Ahmed Jabari by an air to ground laser-guided missile on 14 November triggered a serious escalation in the firing of rockets from Gaza. Egypt had been working for a truce between Hamas and Israel and Jabari was keen to agree to it. Previously rockets had only been fired into the area of Israel which the Israelis took from the Palestinians in 1947-8. But following the assassination rockets have been fired into the area of Israel designated for a Jewish state by the UN in 1947. In spite of the effectiveness of the expensive Iron Dome anti-missile shield paid for by the US, some rockets have reached Tel Aviv and one has fallen in the outskirts of Jerusalem.

Ahmed Jabari was Hamas' number one military leader, so the assassination was like killing the senior Israeli General. What an uproar that would cause internationally, whereas Jabari was passed off as a terrorist. But as with the aerial weapons, the scale of terror inflicted by the Israeli state on the Palestinians exceeds by many fold the terror that rockets from Gaza have caused. The number of deaths on the two sides gives an idea. In the 8 days during wihich there were intense aerial bombardments, 163 Gazans were killed, including 37 children, and 6 Israelis perished, 4 civilians and two soldiers. Nearly 1400 rockets landed in Israel, but 1000 times as much explosive was unleashed on Gaza, according to Israel's Minister of Defence, Ehud Barak.

Another factor in the timing of the recent attacks on Gaza is the Israeli general election in January. Zionism cannot countenance enduring peace agreements as they would preclude the taking of yet more Palestinian land. But thank goodness for the Hamas-Israeli ceasefire since 21 November, brokered by the US and Egypt.

The bombing of Gaza has sparked violent but futile resistance in a number of West Bank towns. Here in Hebron there have been long-running clashes on the streets between a large number of Palestinian youths and the Israeli garrison in the city. At first the youths were youngsters throwing stones at the soldiers who replied with tear gas, sound grenades, some so-called rubber bullets and live rounds. Foul-smelling skunk water was also discharged from a water cannon on a number of occasions. Latterly the number of young men was smaller but they were older and were throwing stones with slings as well as by hand and we saw a few Molotov cocktails being thrown as well. Two of the youths were killed and a number injured. The skunk water and ash from the tear gas projectiles have now been hosed off the streets, helped by heavy rain.  

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