by Gerry Foley / October 2005 issue of Socialist Action newspaper
The dust had not settled after the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza strip before the Zionist army began using this concentration of misery again as a shooting gallery. On Sept. 24-25, Israeli planes bombed up to 12 targets.
The most murderous attack was a missile aimed at a car carrying a top leader of Islamic Jihad, Muhammad Kalil, in the evening of Sept. 25. He was killed, along with his bodyguard. This was the Israeli forces’ fourth attempt to assassinate Kalil in recent years.
In the wake of Israel’s resumption of targeted strikes against its leaders, Islamic Jihad, the second largest Islamist organization (after Hamas) announced that it was ending its ceasefire.
One of the strikes hit a school in a largely Islamist neighborhood. The website of the Arab nationalist TV channel al-Jazeera reported Sept. 25: “The blast struck the al-Arkam school, established by the late founder of Hamas, Shaikh Ahmad Yassin, which is situated in the Tufah neighborhood—a densely populated area and a Hamas stronghold.
“The blast collapsed part of the school and caused damage to at least five nearby homes. … Hospital officials said women and children were among the wounded, and one person was in serious condition. … Hospital sources said a 40-day-old baby was among the injured. … Electricity in the neighborhood was cut, and dozens of people ran into the streets after the
The Israeli authorities claimed that the school was a bomb factory. Israeli planes hit other buildings it claimed were bomb factories, as well as the headquarters of one of the militant Palestinian group:
“The army targeted foundries and metal workshops. … Israel, however, said the targets were a weapons-storage facility in the Jabalya refugee camp used by the Popular Resistance Committees.”
“These claims were denied by the buildings’ proprietors,” al-Jazeera’s correspondent reported.
“A building in Bait Hanun housing the offices of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) was also attacked. … Residents in Bait Hanun said the PFLP building suffered heavy damage, but said no one was believed to be inside at the time.”
At the same time that it launched its strikes on Gaza, the Israeli army massed troops along the Gaza border, threatening military invasions. On the West Bank, the Zionist military began rounding up Palestinian militants. As of Sept. 27, hundreds had been arrested, and Israel was continuing its air strikes on Gaza. Two days earlier, Hamas spokesperson Mahmoud al-Zahar had announced that the Islamist organization was halting attacks on Israel from the Gaza Strip.
However, CNN reported on Sept. 27 that “it is an announcement that has failed to impress Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz. ‘I am not satisfied with Mahmoud al-Zahar’s declaration,’ he told Israeli Army Radio. ‘Hamas did unforgivable acts and we need to
dictate new rules of the game.’”
It appears that Israel had been spoiling for a fight with Hamas. It warned the Palestinian Authority against letting the militant organization participate in the January elections scheduled for the Palestinian territory. Many of the Hamas activists on the West Bank who were arrested were candidates or otherwise involved in the election campaign.
It was the Hamas fighters’ firing of a couple of dozen home-made rockets into Israel on Sept. 23 that provided the pretext for the Israeli assault. Hamas claimed that it had fired into Israel in retaliation for an Israeli strike Sept. 23 on a truck carrying rockets in a Hamas parade.
The Israeli authorities deny that their forces were responsible. They claim that the explosion, which killed 19 people, including children, was the result of the Hamas fighters’ careless handling of explosives in the middle of a crowd.
The Palestinian Authority leadership has accepted the Israeli story. But Hamas claimed that it had witnesses that saw an Israeli drone fire a missile at the truck. A controversy continues. But constant Israeli strikes from the air and covert operations in Palestinian
areas have created a widespread suspicion that fosters belief among Palestinians in the Hamas account.
In any case, the incident gave Israel the opportunity to show that the removal of the Zionist settlements from Gaza and from a few small localities on the West Bank did not mean a military retreat in the face of the armed resistance of the Palestinian militant groups.
And they have effectively demonstrated that they have no intention of relaxing their military pressure on the Palestinians until they abandon their resistance to Zionist dominance, or until the Zionist rulers can corrupt and/or intimidate Palestinian politicians who can join them in the dirty work of repressing Palestinian fighters.