December 19, 2023
From Socialist Worker (UK)

Joe Biden and Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu

A Gaza “ceasefire” resolution that the United Nations Security Council is set to discuss on Wednesday has been systematically stripped of real content to satisfy the US government and its allies.

The Arab regimes scrabbling to put together a text are desperate that Joe Biden’s administration should not veto the motion. That’s what the US did over the call for a “humanitarian pause” on 18 October and for an urgent humanitarian ceasefire on 9 December.

The vote had been due on Monday—and then on Tuesday. But the US said it could not support a reference to a “cessation of hostilities”, but might accept a call for a “suspension of hostilities”.

In other words, whatever its fears about the anti-imperialist wave that Israel may be detonating, the US will still oppose a ceasefire of more than a few days. There might be a pause where the victims will be allowed a little food and water before the killing begins again.

And in any case UN resolutions—even Security Council ones that are deemed “legally binding”—are often ignored by the great powers and Israel.

The UN debates come as the number of Palestinians killed by Israel is officially about to exceed 20,000—and in reality, is already far more.

The Gaza health ministry said on Tuesday that Israeli troops have killed at least 19,453 Palestinians since 7 October and injured at least 52,286 people, Nearly 8,000 people are missing, many of them buried beneath the rubble of their homes, schools and hospitals.

The resolution tabled on Tuesday was expected to contain the language of a “sustainable ceasefire” that comes from an article in the Sunday Times by British foreign secretary Lord Cameron and German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock.

But that article underlines the continuing support for Israel. It says, “We do not believe that calling right now for a general and immediate ceasefire, hoping it somehow becomes permanent, is the way forward.

“Even before October 7, it was hard to imagine Hamas as a real partner for peace. After October 7, we can have no illusions. Leaving Hamas in power in Gaza would be a permanent roadblock on the path to a two-state solution.”

If the US and Britain wanted a ceasefire they would stop supplying arms to Israel and stop the billions in handouts that sustain the slaughter. Instead, on a visit to Israel, US defence secretary Lloyd Austin vowed on Monday to keep arming its ally.

“We’ll continue to provide Israel with the equipment that you need to defend your country including critical munitions, tactical vehicles and air defence systems,” Austin said.

He also announced the formation of a ten-nation coalition, including Britain,  to fight militarily against attacks by the Houthi government in Yemen against Israeli-linked tankers, cargo ships and other vessels in the Red Sea.

But for all the Israeli cruelty, and the Western backing, the Palestinian resistance continues to fight back. Israel has not eliminated Hamas in northern Gaza which it invaded ten weeks ago, let alone in the South. Most Hamas leaders remain free.

The dissension inside Israel grows as the government kills their own hostages in Gaza rather than freeing them.

Hamas’ military spokesperson Abu Obeida said on 15 December, “It’s 70 days since the beginning of the Al Aqsa Flood battle, and our people are still engaged in this battle.

“Our brave fighters are fighting a heavily armed force equipped with lethal weapons, ammunition, supported by planes, warships, and armoured vehicles, under the cover of forces of oppression and aggression, led by the American administration.

“Yet, our fighters are heroically fighting historical battles with light and pride. The whole world sees how our fighters destroy and burn the enemy’s armoured vehicles.”

As Israel’s crimes mount, it’s important to keep building solidarity with the Palestinians. The next national demonstration called by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Stop the War and others is not until 13 January. It’s important to keep building that.

But at a local level, actions continue. Around 70 people gathered outside Lambeth town hall in south London on Monday evening. The Labour council has refused to back a ceasefire and would not even discuss it on Monday.

Earlier in the day protesters in Hastings gathered outside the General Dynamics arms factory.

Simon Hester, chair of the trades council, told the protest, “We support all the activities, including this one over the war in Gaza. We oppose the Israeli settler state and the way Western governments are supporting Israel’s genocidal attack”

He attacked the Tories but also condemned Labour’s Keir Starmer for backing the killing. Hester then said the present horrors were rooted in “75 years of oppression” but had also seen “75 years of Palestinian resistance” and that he refused to condemn that resistance.

Around 800 people joined a march for Palestine in Portsmouth on Sunday and 1,000 in Liverpool. Sisters Uncut has called a protest in central London at 12 noon this Saturday, 23 December.

In a positive sign of wide support, a jury delivered a unanimous not guilty verdict for two Palestine Action supporters who in November 2022 defaced a statue of Tory foreign secretary Arthur Balfour’s statue in the House of Commons.

Balfour’s declaration in 1917 was a key step in imperialism’s backing for the Zionist expulsion of the Palestinian people.

The legal argument for the protesters included their belief that the public would consent to the action as a form of expression and if they were aware of the history, consequence and legacy of the Balfour Declaration.

Every day Israel carries out a vile crime that normally would be headline news. But the world’s media has grown weary of the deaths of Palestinians. It’s important not to “move on” or to forget the genocidal logic of Israel’s slaughter.

Bulldozed and killed at a hospital

Health workers and other witnesses say Israeli forces bulldozed tents housing displaced Palestinians near Kamal Adwan Hospital and crushed them to death.

“The bulldozer has destroyed a great deal of the hospital’s facilities,” Al Jazeera’s Hani Mahmoud, said on Sunday. “It crushed people and their tents in the courtyard and some 20 people were crushed and buried under the rubble,” he said.

In Al-Awda Hospital in the Jabalia refugee camp, northern Gaza, the Israeli military has detained the director, Ahmed Muhanna, in an unknown location.

In the same neighbourhood on Sunday, an Israeli airstrike killed 110 people, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health.

Detainees seized and ill-treated in concentration camps

The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights says it has “received numerous disturbing reports from the north of Gaza of mass detentions, ill-treatment and enforced disappearance of possibly thousands of Palestinian men and boys, and a number of women and girls, at the hands of Israeli Defence Forces.”

It goes on that most were rounded up as they were attempting to move south or were taken during operations conducted on their homes, hospitals, schools and other places of refuge. Those detained include children as young as 12.

Israeli newspaper Haaretz says the authorities have put arrested Palestinians in “Sde Teman”, a detention facility in the Beersheba area in the south of Israel.

The camp is lit up 24 hours a day, and prisoners are left with their eyes covered and hands cuffed for most of the day. Haaretz added that several Palestinian detainees have “died” inside these compounds.

 ‘A crime we will not forget’

Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert says that a friend of his, the head of the emergency services at al-Shifa Hospital has been “brutally” killed in an Israeli attack, along with his family.

“My good friend and dear colleague, Dr Hani al-Haitham, head of Shifa emergency department, was brutally murdered by Israel, along with his beloved wife, Dr Sameera Ghifari and their five children Shireen, Tia, Sameer, Wafa and Sara. In cold blood, coward Israeli soldiers killed seven more unarmed civilians,” Gilbert said on Twitter.

“Another attack on all of us, on all humankind. You will never be forgotten, we pledge: We will rebuild Shifa, Gaza, Palestine!” Gilbert added.

New estimates of 7 October deaths

The office of the Israeli prime minister now says that the final death toll from the 7 October Hamas attack is now thought to be “695 Israeli civilians, including 36 children, as well as 373 security forces and 71 foreigners, giving a total of 1,139. This excludes five people, among them four Israelis, still listed as missing.”

Meanwhile, evidence continues to mount of Israelis killed by the Israeli military on the day.

They killed her family, then they killed her

The victims of an Israeli air strike on the maternity ward of the Nasser Hospital in the southern city of Khan Younis included a young girl called Donia Abu Mohsen.

The hospital’s Dr Mohamed Zakout said, “The shell penetrated the ceiling and directly hit her. Parts of her head and blood are splattered on the wall. It is a brutal crime,” he said.

Abu Mohsen had both legs amputated a few days ago and was receiving treatment in the hospital after she was injured when her house was bombed, killing her family.

Abu Mohsen’s father, mother, and two of her brothers were killed in the first attack. A video shared online shows the immediate aftermath of the Israeli shelling with women and children screaming.

“Finally, she lost her life. The enemy killed Donia and killed all her hopes. The enemy didn’t send us any warning or evacuation order. The enemy didn’t say anything before shelling our department,” Dr Zakout said.