On 10 May Israel Defence Forces’ began mass bombardment of the Gaza Strip, in retaliation for Hamas and other groups’ rocket fire towards Israel.
This new chapter in the Palestinians’ struggle began on 6 May in Sheikh Jarrah, a Palestinian neighbourhood in occupied East Jerusalem. Six Palestinian families who have lived in Sheikh Jarrah for decades are under imminent threat of eviction from their homes which are to be annexed by Israeli-Jewish settlers, who routinely subject them to harassment and violence. Israel’s Supreme Court was to decide on confiscating the homes under Israeli occupation law in early May. On 6 May, hundreds of Palestinians filled the streets in Sheikh Jarrah to protest the evictions and were met with brutal violence from settlers and Israeli security forces who stormed the nearby al-Aqsa Mosque during prayers a day later. The Palestinians’ mass defiance forced Israel’s Attorney-General to intervene and delay the Supreme Court’s ruling.
Virtually all Western media coverage has depicted Hamas’ rocket fire from Gaza as coming before Israel’s bombings, because Hamas had issued Israel with an ultimatum to vacate al-Aqsa in the West Bank and Sheikh Jarrah shortly before commencing rocket fire. However, this omits that Netanyahu’s government had carried out a bombing in northern Gaza beforehand, killing dozens of people.
On May 21st, Israeli police stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem yet again, dispersing Palestinians with tear gas, stun grenades and smoke bombs, only hours after an “unconditional ceasefire” was reached between Israel and the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip. This violence illustrates how little the ceasefire already offers to Palestinians in both the Occupied Territories and Gaza, what the normality of apartheid, siege and state repression means for them and why they will continue to need urgent global solidarity from workers and unionists.
In early June, the Palestinian Authority rejected an offer from Israel for 1 million doses of coronavirus vaccines, hours after the deal was made. Israel had said that the vaccines “will expire soon”, when in actual fact, the vaccines were too close the expiration date to be distributed, and according to the Palestinian Authority, did not meet health officials’ standards.
Against Israel’s aggressive war of annihilation against the Palestinians, and the COVID pandemic raging in one of the world’s most densely populated areas, Palestinian workers organised a general strike. The strike, which was supported by Palestinian trade unions, was observed across the Occupied Territory and Israel.
The Palestinian people need the solidarity of trade unionists and workers around the world. There is an international call for Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions, not of Israel’s people, but of the Israeli state as a way to end its regime of apartheid and occupation.
Workers in Palestine, a new group of militant Palestinian workers and unionists have been calling for solidarity actions with the Palestinian struggle, including boycotting of the Histadrut, Israel’s so-called trade union federation that in fact sustains the status-quo discrimination and apartheid between Arab-Palestinian and Jewish-Israeli workers. Follow their call to action on the Workers in Palestine facebook page.