The Israeli army continues to advance against Hamas in Gaza.
A decisive defeat of Hamas — which is armed, financed and trained by the reactionary bourgeois regime in Iran — would be a blow to forces that promote Jew-hatred, from Tehran to Paris, Cairo to Washington. It would open the door wider for uniting Jews, Arabs and other working people in the region to fight for their own class interests.
Israel Defense Forces officials say that they have destroyed the terror group’s command structure in Gaza City in the northern part of the territory — and decimated its forces — and are close to doing the same in Khan Younis in the south. That leaves Hamas with significant forces mostly in tunnels around Rafah, close to the Egyptian border, which Israeli officials say is their next target.
Most army reserve units have been pulled out of Gaza and returned to civilian life — for the moment. The bulk of combat is now carried out by regular Israel Defense Forces units, which are able to crisscross Gaza with little resistance. Hamas rocket attacks on Israel are substantially reduced.
But the war is far from over. Scattered Hamas units are still able to ambush Israeli forces and terrorize Gaza residents. Hamas refuses to release more than 100 hostages it holds.
When Hamas death squads attacked Oct. 7, they slaughtered 1,200 people and wounded more than 5,000, carrying out the largest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust. They also killed dozens of Arab, Thai, Nepalese, Filipino and African workers for the “crime” of working with Jews.
Hamas’ own statements — vowing to carry out Oct. 7 massacres “again and again” — highlight why the Israeli government and people have no choice but to fight to completely dismantle Hamas.
Hamas tells Jews to get out
Sami Abu Zuhri, head of the Hamas political department, told Al Jazeera Jan. 28 that “Zionists” have to “leave our land and go back to where they came from.” In other words, they will wage war on Israel until it is destroyed and all Jews have fled the region.
Senior Hamas official Khaled Mashaal told Kuwaiti journalist Ammar Taki Jan. 16 that Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007 solely to gain “political and administrative” cover for their real purpose, building tunnels, amassing weapons and preparing to attack Israel.
Taki pointed to the widespread destruction and death in Gaza.
“Life was not good” before Oct. 7, Mashaal cynically retorted. He claimed, “Palestinians are not interested in improving their lives under occupation.”
Aided by Israeli blows weakening Hamas, more Palestinians and other Arabs are expressing a different point of view, including inside Israel where some 20% of the population is Arab and many have relatives in Gaza.
Palestinians: ‘Hamas is killing us’
“Israel is killing us, but Hamas is also killing us,” Zaid Alayoubi, a Jerusalem-based Palestinian lawyer, told Sky News Arabia Jan. 31. Hamas has been taking aid for civilians and distributing it “according to its whims and its own criteria,” he said.
“People’s houses have been destroyed, thousands have been displaced and some have lost their entire family” in the Israeli counteroffensive, he notes. “The Hamas leaders were responsible for going to war in this manner. … This sentiment is shared by all the people of Gaza.”
“Where is the liberation you promised us?” Alayoubi asked.
Seeing the progress Israeli forces have made in the war, some immigrant workers who left Israel after Hamas’ pogrom are beginning to return. One of those is Bobby Sorapot, a Thai farmworker who came under attack by Hamas at Kibbutz Nahal Oz, near Gaza. Sorapot told Yedioth Aronoth that some of his co-workers before Oct. 7 were Palestinians from Gaza. “They were our friends. We worked together.” He still doesn’t understand, he said, why did Hamas “come to kill us?”
Liberals want to forget Oct. 7
While more Palestinians are speaking out against Hamas and its 16-year brutal rule in Gaza, the New York Times and Washington Post instead print article after article blaming Israel for conditions in Gaza, to buttress their calls for a cease-fire that would leave Hamas intact. Liberal media say little about the massacre of Jews on Oct. 7, how Hamas continues to use civilians as human shields, the brutal imprisonment of some of the hostages or protests against Hamas in Gaza.
Applause by the middle-class left for the Oct. 7 pogrom and the silence of some feminist groups around the world in the face of the rape and mutilation of Jewish women by the Islamist thugs, show that fighting Jew-hatred is not a “Mideast” question, but one that confronts working people internationally, especially in the U.S.
On Feb. 1, so-called Free Palestine protesters calling for a cease-fire blocked the streets around the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. “The museum tells the story of the 6 million Jews who were murdered by the Nazis. It has nothing to do with Israel or the U.S. military,” Combat Antisemitism Movement spokesperson Sacha Roytman told the press. “This is antisemitism, plain and simple.”
The danger Jew-hatred represents today will grow. When the capitalist class fears that its power is threatened, it will step up the scapegoating of Jews, hoping to divert attention from the real cause of a deepening economic and social crisis. It will green light violent assaults on the working class by fascist thugs who march under the banner of Jew-hatred.
While advances against Hamas strengthen the fight against Jew-hatred, the capitalist government in Israel often takes actions that weaken that struggle.
A just released report from Israel’s public defenders office reveals the wretched conditions in Israeli jails. Since Oct. 7, the Jerusalem Post reported the number of prisoners held by Israel has increased from 16,000 to 20,000, including hundreds of Palestinians from Gaza and the West Bank accused of aiding Hamas.
In violation of a ruling by the Israeli Supreme Court, many prisoners are not ensured a minimum living space, which includes a bed and mattress. The report found that prisons are overcrowded, some are cockroach infested, ventilation is inadequate, and prisoners have to wait extremely long periods to use bathrooms.
Arabs in Israel
An important part of fighting Jew-hatred is ensuring the truth about Oct. 7 is widely known. Valerie Hamaty, a well-known musician who is an Arab citizen of Israel, made a video in November in Arabic with Hebrew subtitles of her visit to one of the kibbutzim destroyed by Hamas. In it she answers conspiracy theories that claim Hamas’ murder of civilians and rape and mutilation of women never happened.
Pointing to buildings destroyed by the Hamas death squads and describing the assaults on civilians, Hamaty said, “We know the truth and we want to convey the truth to the entire world, including the entire Arab world.”
Hamaty and other musicians have also been making hospital visits to civilians and soldiers wounded by Hamas to show their support for the fight for Israel’s right to exist.