By Greg Godels
November 8, 2023
The November 2, 2023 edition of The Wall Street Journal acknowledges that “the three-week-long air campaign by Israel… is the most intense in its history and rivals any aerial bombardment this century,” according to “military analysts”. The Israelis have “hit more than 11,000 targets, with missiles, bombs, and artillery, in Gaza, an area that is half the size of New York City that is home to about two million people.”
Reporting only one week after the war began, the Turkish state-run news agency takes note of the following comparisons:
The Washington Post, citing Marc Garlasco, a military adviser at the Dutch organization PAX for Peace, reported that Israel is “dropping in less than a week what the US was dropping in Afghanistan in a year, in a much smaller, much more densely populated area, where mistakes are going to be magnified.”
Garlasco, who is also a former UN war crimes investigator in Libya, told the daily, citing records from the US Air Force Central Command, that the highest number of bombs dropped in a year for the war in Afghanistan was just over 7,423. According to the UN, during the entire war in Libya, NATO reported dropping more than 7,600 bombs and missiles from aircraft, the daily reported…
Charles Lister, a senior fellow and director of the Extremism and Counterterrorism Program at the Middle East Institute, was also surprised by the figure.
WOW — 6,000 bombs in 6 days, in 365 square kilometers #Gaza,” Lister said on X.
“For comparison, the international anti-#ISIS coalition dropped an average of ~2,500 bombs **per month, across 46,000 km2 in #Syria & #Iraq.**”
In a release on November 2, Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor reports:
GENEVA – Israel has dropped more than 25,000 tons of explosives on the Gaza Strip since the start of its large-scale war on 7 October, equivalent to two nuclear bombs, Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor said in a press release issued today.
According to the Geneva-based human rights organisation, the Israeli army has admitted to bombing over 12,000 targets in the Gaza Strip, with a record tally of bombs exceeding 10 kilograms of explosives per individual. Euro-Med Monitor highlighted that the weight of the nuclear bombs dropped by the United States on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan at the end of World War II in August 1945 was estimated at about 15,000 tons of explosives.
Due to technological developments affecting the potency of bombs, the explosives dropped on Gaza may be twice as powerful as a nuclear bomb. This means that the destructive power of the explosives dropped on Gaza exceeds that of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Euro-Med Monitor said, noting that the area of the Japanese city is 900 square kilometres, while the area of Gaza does not exceed 360 square kilometres.
The rights group’s statement underlined that Israel uses bombs with huge destructive power, some of which range from 150 to 1,000 kilograms, and cited a recent statement by Israeli War Minister Yoav Gallant that declared that more than 10,000 bombs have been dropped on Gaza City alone.
Israel’s use of internationally banned weapons in its attacks on the Gaza Strip has been documented, said Euro-Med Monitor, especially the use of cluster and phosphorus bombs, which are waxy toxic substances that react quickly to oxygen and cause severe second- and third-degree burns.
While comparisons are rough, they give some sense of the scale of the Israeli assault on Gaza which is lost in much of the media coverage. The assault on the civilian population of Gaza is savage. The immediacy of this catastrophe on the civilian population of Gaza vastly overshadows the questions that occupy the media, the punditry, and the politicians. They, and others, who fail to recognize this human disaster and fail to call for its ending will be judged harshly by history.
The world-wide outrage voiced by the people is in sharp contrast to the complacency of the elites. Despite the best efforts of elites to minimize and distort the facts and to threaten and ostracize resistance, millions have emphatically called for a ceasefire. The shameful attempt to stifle this resistance should not be forgotten when future political options are weighed.
The effectiveness of global resistance has forced the US State Department warmongers– the slavish apologists for Israeli policies– to call for a “humanitarian pause,” a tepid, cowardly attempt to save face in the wake of mass slaughter. Predictably, the extremist Israeli government has turned down this feeble request.
As civilian deaths in Gaza climb obscenely, there is only one honest demand: Cease fire! End the war now!
Like the war in Ukraine, the conflict in Gaza– in the entire Middle East, for that matter– can neither be understood nor judged without delving into its history. Simplistic accounts that place ethnicity, religion, or ideology ahead of the machinations of imperialism miss the point. Since the politics of oil has dominated great power interests in the Middle East, the traditional relations of the various peoples and their fate have been largely determined by those powers. Beginning with the Balfour Declaration and the Sykes-Picot agreement, the people of the region have been largely side-line observers of British and French imperial designs.
Matters changed after World War II with the upsurge in nationalism, both narrow nationalism and progressive national liberation. The Zionist “victory” over British rule in Palestine and the subsequent purging of Palestinian villages and residents led to a narrow nationalist, theocratic regime in Israel that quickly became a watchdog for US and NATO imperialism, joining in the suppression and manipulation of popular risings in the Middle East.
At the same time, popular, secular, Arab nationalist, independent, proto-socialist movements arose, alongside existing worker and Communist parties, targeting both backward, feudal, and fundamentalist regimes installed or sustained throughout the Middle East by the West, as well as their Western puppeteers.
Arab nationalism and the inspiration of socialism– encouraged by the 1952 revolution in Egypt– grew into a powerful movement that, despite relentless efforts to undermine them, lingers to this day. The Ba’ath Party, Yasser Arafat’s PLO, and Quaddafi’s Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya were modern-day remnants of the 1952 revolution’s legacy.
Wherever these secular movements rose in stature, the Western powers and Israel sponsored anti-Communist, religious fundamentalists as a bulwark against secularism, progressive nationalism, and tolerance.
Famously, this sponsorship has often backfired on the sponsor– what Chalmers Johnson cleverly dubbed “blowback” — as it did when the US courted the mujahideen in Afghanistan. Opportunistically using Islamic fundamentalism to combat Afghani revolutionaries and Soviet assistance, the US enabled a powerful new reactionary force in the Middle East that led directly to the infamous jihadist attack on September 11, 2001.
Hamas is a similar creature. Nourished and encouraged by Israel as an alternative to the secular PLO, it turned on its masters. As Avner Cohen, a former Israeli intelligence officer affirmed recently in The Wall Street Journal:
Instead of trying to curb Gaza’s Islamists from the outset, says Mr. Cohen, Israel for years tolerated and, in some cases, encouraged them as a counterweight to the secular nationalists of the Palestine Liberation Organization and its dominant faction, Yasser Arafat’s Fatah.
Since October 7, the well regarded Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, has posted a series of articles chronicling the Israeli government’s efforts to strengthen Hamas in order to ensure that Palestinian governance would be divided between the West Bank and Gaza: divide and conquer.
The great tragedy of the Palestinian people is brought forth by today’s massacre at the hands of Zionist zealots: the death of thousands of civilians and the injury of many more. But its roots lie in the machinations of Western imperialism, the indifference, even hostility, of many Arab states, and the failings of the left.
Kemal Okuyan, General Secretary of the Turkish Communist Party addresses the failing in a recent speech:
Because today, political Islam has turned into an effective tool in the hands of the ruling classes not only to attack, divide or control the workers but also to gain advantage in the competition within the imperialist system. When its class-based characteristics is missed, in Europe and North America, political Islam is either viewed with an orientalist approach as “an anti-imperialist, even revolutionary revolt of the backward world,” or, as in the case of ISIS, as a medieval barbarism. I regret to say that both approaches lead us to mistakes. It must be recognized that political Islam is an important reality of the modern world, it is fundamentally a class phenomenon and a problem that cannot be overcome by romanticism or feelings of terror. We will not allow the Palestinian resistance to be reduced to Hamas. But we need to answer the question why religion has become decisive in social dynamics of the Islamic world.
Comrades, the regression in the Middle East is ultimately due to the same reason as the decline of the working-class movement in the rest of the world today. This reason can be summarized as the abandonment of the class positions and the perspective of revolution. One of the most important, if not the only, reasons for the rise of right-wing populism or the far right in Europe today is the gaps left by the left. Capitalism constantly generates problems that require radical responses. The same mechanism is also at work in the Middle East, which has a very different historical, cultural and political background. Politics does not tolerate any gaps. The truth is that they are stealing the anger of the poor and they are stealing it from us. We cannot accept this. The moment we put aside the actuality of the revolution; we commit mistakes. Anti-US positions without the goal of socialism leads us to consider political Islam or the so-called national bourgeoisies as allies; putting democracy before socialism often leads us to co-operate with the US or the EU or other bourgeois forces. This is a vicious circle. This vicious circle traps us in Europe, Latin America or North America as much as it does in Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, Egypt or Palestine.
The power of Okuyan’s analysis lies in underscoring the legitimacy of the Palestinian resistance while insisting that Palestinian liberation requires different options, revolutionary options that will better serve the interests of the Palestinian masses.
Whatever else the Hamas attack has done, Israeli reaction has exposed the brutality of the Israeli regime to millions of people who were unaware or in denial of the oppression, abuse, and destruction of the Palestinian people in their historic homeland and in Gaza. Even the Western media has, to some extent, been forced to acknowledge the horrors of life in Gaza under Israeli attack, leaving their political patrons exposed for their sheer indifference and their lack of moral principle. Leaders of Arab countries are forced to face their unprincipled relations with Israel or face their outraged populations.
Yet the political strata continue to escalate both their support for Israel and their suppression of domestic resistance. They will pay dearly for this, as the Israeli government further shows its brutal face to the world.
The people of the world must demand the end of the Israeli attack on Gaza. That victory might begin the march to restoring dignity to the long-suffering Palestinian people.