Israeli forces continue making gains against the Tehran-sponsored Hamas terror organization in Gaza. These advances are increasing openings to bring together Jewish, Arab and other workers in Israel and the Middle East in common struggle.
Israeli forces, with the backing of the country’s people, are willing to agree to a short-term pause in the fighting to allow for the release of hostages held by Hamas and its allies. But despite pressure from Washington and other “democratic” imperialist regimes, they are determined to continue their campaign to destroy Hamas’ ability to launch new pogroms.
The reactionary bourgeois-clerical regime in Iran has worked with Hamas for years to build up an army whose goal is to kill Jews and destroy Israel. Hamas uses Palestinian civilians in Gaza as human shields, and blames their deaths on Israel to win public sympathy and get funding from the U.N. and elsewhere that it siphons off to continue its massacres. Hamas’ existence is a threat to Jews, as well as the main obstacle facing Palestinian workers.
The biggest deterrent to the deeper involvement by the rulers in Tehran is the working people of Iran, who are sick and tired of the regime’s expansionist adventures abroad and threats against Israel.
The Israel Defense Forces announced Dec. 31 that it is withdrawing five combat brigades from the Gaza Strip. This is a product of its recent advances — not because it’s bending to pressure from Joseph Biden’s administration to wind down the war.
The number of rockets fired by Hamas and Islamic Jihad toward Israel has declined from an average of 75 per day on Dec. 1 to 16 a day or less by Dec. 27. The Israeli army has destroyed miles of tunnels and hundreds of tunnel access points that Hamas spent years — and millions of dollars — building.
The Israeli government is encouraging residents of six towns on the country’s Gaza border to start returning home. Not so for the 70,000 who have been evacuated near the Lebanese border because of strikes by Hezbollah, which is part of Tehran’s “axis of resistance.”
Hamas’ anti-Jewish depravity
The truth about Hamas’ Oct. 7 pogrom is essential for understanding why Israel is waging a war to defeat it. Hamas death squads killed 1,200 women, children and men and wounded thousands in Israel, mostly civilians. This includes the murder of 37 youth under 17, six children under 5 years old and 25 people over 80. It was the largest single-day massacre of Jews since the Nazis’ Holocaust. They also killed dozens of Thai farmworkers and Arab citizens of Israel for the “crime” of working with Jews. Hamas refuses to release the hostages it still holds.
Because bodies continue to be discovered, many burned beyond recognition, the picture of Hamas’ depravity is not yet complete. Israeli authorities have accumulated some 200,000 videos — many filmed by Hamas thugs — and taken 2,000 witness statements.
Women were a special target. Many were raped before or while they were being murdered. The thugs mutilated their genitals and other parts of their bodies, including at least one who had nails driven into her thighs and genitals.
Because Hamas places its command centers and weapons inside and under hospitals, schools, mosques and apartment buildings, the human cost of the war has been devastating. More than three-quarters of Gaza’s civilians have moved to overcrowded neighborhoods after Israeli instructions to get out of combat zones.
The Israeli government is facilitating the entry of more humanitarian aid, including thousands of rubella, polio, measles and mumps vaccines for children, and by opening another border crossing.
The weakening of Hamas makes it easier for working people in Gaza to speak out against the dictatorial group. After an Israeli airstrike Dec. 24 relatives of those killed blamed Hamas, reports The Associated Press. “I swear to God, he was better than the whole of Hamas,” one man said while kneeling over the body of a relative.
There is widespread revulsion against Hamas among Arabs inside Israel, who are nearly 20% of the country’s citizens. At least 19 Bedouin Arabs were among those killed Oct. 7. Other Palestinian residents of Israel were also murdered.
Farms in Israel, especially near Gaza, are facing a labor shortage after thousands of immigrant workers left the country in the wake of the pogrom. The Israeli government suspended the work permits of 130,000 Palestinians from the West Bank.
Thousands of Israelis have volunteered to help bring in the crops, including at Arab-owned farms. “I had 16 Thai workers, but nine left the country because of the war, and I had 15 workers from the West Bank who no longer come to Israel because of the roadblocks,” Arab-Israeli farmer Marwan Abu Yassin, told the Times of Israel.
Israeli Jews, Arabs and groups of Filipino immigrants have joined the effort. One Jewish volunteer pointed out this is “very important for good relations between Jews and Arabs.”
Hamas supporters organize in U.S.
“This is the time to agitate, to make Zionists feel very uncomfortable on campus,” Taher Herzallah, a leader of American Muslims for Palestine, told participants at a Dec. 23 event in San Diego. His group is among those promoting “cease-fire now” demonstrations around the U.S.
But Jewish students and others are looking for ways to stand up to rising antisemitic attacks on campus. A delegation from the U.S. and Canada visited Israel at the end of December and told the press about their experiences.
Student Dinah Elmaleh said a table set up at Concordia University in Montreal with photos of the Israeli hostages was physically attacked by protesters “who screamed ‘death to the Jews.’”
When she returns, “I will be showing everybody what I have witnessed here, what Hamas did to people in Sderot, the suffering of those who have families being held in Gaza,” she said.
U.S. government-funded Voice of America ran an article Dec. 27 headlined “Biden Struggles to Contain Israel-Hamas War as Conflict Spreads on Multiple Fronts.”
The article notes that even as Washington provides military aid to Israel it continues to push Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “transition to a different phase of the war” and to urge him to show “restraint in Lebanon” despite Hezbollah’s continual lobbing of missiles at Israel.
But neither Washington, nor London or Paris, have been able to prevent the Israeli government from pursuing the destruction of Hamas. The Israeli rulers — let alone working people there — have little choice but to stand up to the Tehran-organized effort to annihilate the Jews.
As Israel heads to the 76th anniversary of its founding as a refuge for those fleeing the horror of the Holocaust and facing closed borders in the U.S. and elsewhere, it’s worth recalling the words of Abram Leon, author of The Jewish Question: A Marxist Interpretation, who was killed in 1944 in the Nazi gas chambers at Auschwitz.
“There is no solution to the Jewish question under capitalism, just as there is no solution to the other problems posed before humanity — without profound social upheavals,” he wrote.