Gaza is still being bombed and the Hamas rockets are still being fired, showing that nothing has been solved by this brutal, one-sided war: over 1300 dead, mostly civilians and foot-soldiers, thousands more wounded and traumatised; over 20,000 houses partly or totally destroyed.
The Israeli Blitzkrieg also destroyed the remaining weak infrastructure, power, water and sewage plants as well as 35-60% of the remaining agricultural industry. The latter was already extremely weak from over two years of economic siege by Israel and its buffer zone being extended into Gaza by up to a kilometre. Livestock, orchards, schools, offices, factories bombed and bulldozed; and in a fair summing up of the Israeli action, phosphorus bombs deliberately dropped on pallets of UN relief food in order that it would burn for days. "An eye for an eyelash", in the words of Avi Shlaim, ex-Israeli soldier and now professor of international relations at Oxford University. And after all this death, destruction and contamination Hamas still proclaims a "victory", while Palestinians remain in misery and squalor, denied any rebuilding materials by the Israeli blockade.
The rationale, if one can call it that, for Israel to unleash its dogs of war on Gaza, is that civilians allowed Hamas into government and they must pay the price for it. This is the same argument used by the 7/7 London suicide bombers, terrorists everywhere, states like Sri Lanka at the moment and by the British and American states to justify the bombing of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan. While the death toll in Gaza is nothing compared to the millions of Africans killed around the Great Lakes during the last 16 years through inter-imperialist war, the pictures of the suffering in Gaza bring home the horrors of the capitalist drive to war, the breakdown of the Geneva Convention, so-called ‘humanitarianism' and UN ‘protection', and the fact that, entirely contrary to the sickening hypocrisy and spin, civilians are the targets. What it also brings home is the complete lie about peace talks, these only being a prelude to ever more wars, barbarity and disintegration.
Imperialist manoeuvres behind the war
This war arose from a deliberate provocation by Israel, planned way back in the early part of last year when it set up its sinister National Information Directorate, and implemented by its breaking of the cease-fire that Hamas had observed since last June. The Israeli state could have cut a deal with Hamas (it did, but broke it) in order to stop the rockets, but it has not only maintained an impoverished ghetto, an open-air prison in Gaza - it even stepped up its three year blockade after the June 2008 Egyptian-backed cease-fire, further decreasing supplies of food, fuel, water treatment and sanitation, medical supplies and chances of work, thus increasing the influence of the Hamas clique with its ideology of ‘resistance'.
Before Obama took over the US presidency, Israel wanted to weaken Hamas (and therefore its backers Syria and Iran) before the new administration was in place and adopting a different, more multilateral approach. More than this, the war has to be put in the context of the development of imperialism in this region. The Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in August 2005 was presented as a step towards peace. But this retreat was nothing but a strategy for Israeli imperialism, giving up this tiny unstrategic territory and the expense of protecting its few settlers while it prepares for wider warfare. Israel destroyed everything before it left Gaza and left Hamas and Fatah to fight over the remains. The more important stake for Israeli imperialism, the front line with Syria and Iran, is much more the West Bank. Here the British, as imperialist allies of Israel, have been at the forefront in building up the repressive forces of Fatah through training, funding, arms and its "special services" developed from its experiences in Ireland and elsewhere. Britain's military and diplomatic activity helps secure the West Bank against any possible Hamas intrusion, and thus the growing influence of Iran and Syria. In practice this means backing the development of a ‘Greater Israel.
Peace is not a prospect
The prospects for even an uneasy peace in the region are grim to non-existent. Iran has underlined its nuclear ambitions with a successful satellite launch. Obama has already shown that he will intensify the Bush administration's war in Afghanistan and have mainly military ‘solutions' to instability in the Middle East. Diplomatic moves around Middle East are equally unpromising. The proposed Egyptian cease-fire for Gaza was ignored by Israel and the US. At the Arab League meeting on January 19 there were reports that Egypt and Saudi Arabia fell out with each other and the Saudi delegation even fell out with itself. Tehran has been strengthened by this war, as has the whole of the so-called ‘resistance'.
Israel's destruction of Gaza has been openly supported by the new US administration. US imperialism needs its Israeli ally more than ever now. Arabic-speaking George Mitchell, who sorted out US interests in Ireland, has been sent to the region. There is speculation on whether he will talk to Hamas. Beyond the speculation is the certainty that the misery of the Palestinian masses will continue and that war is always imminent. Long before the Israeli state existed the Middle East was a battleground for the major, rival imperialisms,like the Balkans, a running sore. This can only get worse.