By Prakash Karat
Ever since Benjamin Netanyahu formed a coalition government comprising far-right and ultra-orthodox religious parties, at the end of last year, there has been a spate of attacks by the Israeli security forces and Jewish settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank.
The Netanyahu government has declared that it would work for annexing the West Bank into Israel in flagrant violation of international law which considers the West Bank as occupied territory by Israel ever since the 1967 war.
In mid-February, the Israeli government authorised nine previously illegal settlements in the West Bank; the settlements will also have new housing numbering 10,000 units.
Israel had built 140 settlements, housing some 600 thousand Jewish settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem since the 1967 occupation. In order to expel Palestinians living in the West Bank from their homes and lands, apart from the relentless pressure of illegal encroachments by the Jewish settlers, the advent of the new government, in which there are religious parties openly advocating driving out the Palestinians, there has been a dramatic increase in the cycle of violence.
Israeli defence forces and other para-military guards are constantly raiding towns in the West Bank in the name of arresting terrorists. Such raids happened in Jenin in January, which led to the death of ten Palestinians, most of them civilians, including a 61 year-old woman. Another massacre has taken place in the town of Nablus where 11 Palestinians were killed in a raid and 102 injured on February 22.
Altogether, 62 Palestinians have been killed from the beginning of 2023. This works out to an average of a little more than one Palestinian per day being killed.
Cornered and being hunted down in their own homes, some Palestinians have retaliated in desperation. After the Nablus attack, two Jewish settler brothers were shot in Huwara, near Nablus. The same day, 400 Jewish settlers accompanied by some IDF soldiers attacked the Palestinian localities. 30 houses were burnt down, 40 damaged and 100 cars destroyed. One Palestinian man was killed and another seriously injured. The important thing to note is that a prominent member of the ruling coalition justified this violence which has been termed a pogrom by civil rights groups.
In the meantime, the Palestinians, who live in the Gaza strip which is blockaded by Israel, are subject to periodic aerial bombardment which makes life miserable for its nearly two million inhabitants.
Since the Israeli government openly patronises the building of illegal settlements, violating United Nations’ resolutions in this regard, the Security Council, on February 14 adopted a unanimous resolution strongly opposing Israel’s construction and expansion of settlements. However, due to the intervention of the United States, this was a watered down resolution compared to the draft resolution brought by the Palestinian representative which would have been legally binding demanding a halt to Israeli settlement activity.
As noted in an earlier editorial, India has been backsliding on its long-held consistent stand of support to the Palestinian cause. Even during the current spate of violence, the ministry of external affairs spokesperson strongly condemned the attack on a synagogue in Jerusalem, in which seven Jewish people were killed, but the government has been silent on the massacres conducted by the Israeli security forces in Jenin and Nablus. India has joined the so-called middle-eastern Quad comprising the United States, UAE, Israel and India. The ultra-religious Zionist approach of the Netanyahu government finds full support from the Hindutva forces.
That is why it is important that the secular democratic forces in India are mobilised to support and express solidarity with the struggling Palestinian people. The All India Peace and Solidarity Organisation (AIPSO) has given a call for a Palestinian solidarity campaign from March 7 to 11. All anti-imperialist, Left and democratic forces must work to make this campaign a success. (IPA Service)