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Voice from Gaza

League for the Fifth International | 06.03.2008 18:36 | Palestine | Repression | Social Struggles

As the threat of all out war hangs over the Gaza strip and an Israeli Minister threatens a holocaust against the people living there, we publish interviews with people in the Gaza strip, conducted by journalists and political activists from the Bells of Return website, which campaigns for a secular one state solution for Palestine

Voices from Gaza
05 March 2008
Communists stand in complete solidarity with all those fighting Israel’s brutality against the Palestinians, including the defence of their right to use arms. While we recognise that Hamas’ tactic of firing rockets at Israeli towns has been ineffective and counter-productive, this is in response to Israel’s far greater firepower.

After all, the Zionist state does not restrain itself. Deputy Defence Minister Matan Vilnai has even threatened Gaza with a "shoah", or holocaust. To back up Vilnai’s words, Israel killed 35 Gazans on 1 March, bringing the total dead to over 100 in a four-day blitz. This in a land with scant fuel, food or medicines suffering under an 11-month siege.

Pacifism in these circumstances is useless. But armed resistance has to be linked – and ultimately subordinated – to mass action, if it is not to simply provide Israel with a pretext for more atrocities. Palestinians have, even under Hamas leadership, mounted such actions: the dismantling of the border wall, or the “human chain” across the Strip.

Hamas’ strategy, however, is incapable of bringing about the sort of mass struggle that could end Israel’s siege, relegating the masses to the role of spectators in a struggle for liberation conducted by an armed elite, and excluding the organised participation of women or the workers’ struggle.

Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah administration in the West Bank, for its part, is acting as Israel’s silent accomplice in the siege. Any movement to break the siege will therefore necessarily have to involve a struggle to remove it from power.

Workers Power has been discussing these ideas with socialists in Gaza from Ajras al Awda (Bells of Return). Amani Aburahma, their editor, sent us these interviews to illustrate the mood and debates among the Gazans.


Yusra, a schoolteacher in Beit Lahiya: "They turned our lives into a nightmare, and killed hundreds of us, destroying our houses. Our farms have become barren desert. The orchards, which were adjacent to the borders, are now just memories. My students ask me whether all the world's cities are under siege like Gaza.”

"There are many ways of resistance and the first Intifada stands as a good witness. Stones returned hundreds of thousands of refugees to the Strip and the West Bank… and I always believe the stone is stronger than bullet."

Mohammed, another teacher, in Beit Hanoun: “[I] call our brothers in the resistance not to fire these missiles, because they cause [us] damage… more than they harm Israel… and are then exploited as an excuse to commit more crimes. We must prepare better weapons, and the best response is to end the state of division [between Fatah and Hamas] and create internal unity to confront any aggression.”

Abu Zyad, a shopkeeper near Beit Hanoun: "We are the first to know if there is an invasion or not. Look at the wall that separates us from the 1948 territories. There were settlements, Eli Sinai, Dugit and others... At night we see clearly the movement of Israeli tanks and can hear them nearby, and so far we did not notice abnormal Israeli movements. Everything is normal from the north at least.”

Regarding the missiles, he said: "We have no choice. Those who support them say that it is the only means to create a balance of terror, but I do not find that. They come at night to launch a missile or two, and then leave us at the mercy of Israeli shells, and we get caught up in trying to calm the children, and protecting them.”

Mustafa, 20, a volunteer for an armed group: "We do not fear Israel or elsewhere, and if they entered the Strip, those who came in would not get out again.”

“How can missiles be useless? What caused Israel to take a decision to wage war on Gaza Strip? I am proud of the rockets terrorising the population of Sderot… [The missiles] will not stop till they leave our land. To those Palestinians who are harmed because of missiles, we tell them it is the cost of battle, and we need their patience.”

Shaker, a university student: "Israel wants to restore its army’s prestige after its defeat in Lebanon, but this time at [our] expense… Israel wants to spread terror in the entire region by the massacres committed against the population of the Gaza Strip, without paying heed to world opinion, which is anyway silent, including in the Arab countries."

He went on to say that the Palestinians of Gaza should not surrender to Israel’s acts, or stop their attempts to break the siege and draw the world’s attention to their cause.

The blowing up of the Gaza-Egypt border at Rafah on 22 January saw hundreds of thousands of people entering Egypt to get the things that they desperately needed, such as fuel, oil and soap. This mass action drew the world’s attention to the siege and placed pressure on the Arab countries, through the sympathies of their peoples, to end it. Future mass actions like it, drawing on the solidarity of the workers’ movement and other popular forces, could do the same, as many in Gaza have recognised.

One young man said that he was “full of the joy of victory... It is time for the rest of the world to recognise that we will take our destiny in our own hands. We have ended the siege… with our own initiative and effort – and freedom-loving people all over the world should work to keep the border open. It is time for a political solution – and that solution is for the people of Gaza to control their own border, as is the case with every other border in the world.”

Gaza Strip launders its clothes with salty water these days, sitting on a rock besieged by fire sending death not warmth. Residents of the Strip had initially felt some calm after statements from Barak, the Israeli Defence Minister, which were made recently in Turkey when he said that there would be no ground war on Gaza Strip ‘at the present time’. But living with the Israelis teaches the people not to trust the leaders of war. Israeli military aircraft, despite the bad weather, do not leave the skies of the strip. Residents of the Gaza Strip cannot distinguish between bombing and thunder, they wait for the morning to hear the news bulletin and live with the memory of victims and losses. People wake because of rockets fired from the neighbourhood, or when an Israeli shell falls in the area. They find themselves without sleep, in the unnerving darkness, where we watch our children sleep in their innocence, then asking us about the future that awaits them. They as if the war will ever stop? We are left with the same confidence to ask the new, moist dawn: if the war on Gaza is to occur, would it leave them alive, and what would life be like after the war?,1336,0,0,1,0

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