Palestine: resistance undefeated

Despite the brutal slaughter of over 46,000 Palestinians, the destruction of 62% of their homes, 84% of their healthcare centres and 56% of their schools, the Zionist genocide carries on, with no end in sight and no credible claim to victory over the steadfast people of Gaza. Jabaliya, Rimal, Nuseirat, Khan Younis: Israeli strategists envisaged Gaza’s districts falling like dominoes alongside the bodies and houses of their inhabitants and crowed triumphantly after each murderous operation. But, in every region of Gaza, this ongoing Nakba is faced by an armed resistance which is undefeated. Meanwhile, regional resistance from Lebanon, Yemen and other Palestinian regions has been met with international solidarity in the imperialist nerve centres. This reality has triggered disagreements between Israel and its US, EU and British imperialist sponsors, deepening the political crisis they all face. LOUIS BREHONY reports.

Having failed to quell the fires in Jabaliya, northern Gaza, the occupation has set its sights on liquidating the resistance in Rafah, the city closest to the Egyptian border and densest site of displacement since October 2023. As we go to press, the Zionist occupation threatens a full-scale assault on the city. But the onslaught is in reality already underway. On 7 May over 23 people were killed by overnight airstrikes on the Rafah-Egypt border crossing, including six women and five children. By 13 May, occupation forces had closed the Rafah border crossing to humanitarian aid for the fifth day in a row. The same day, one UN aid worker was killed and another wounded in Rafah as troops targeted their vehicle. 

800,000 have fled Rafah, with many becoming refugees for a third time, having escaped Israeli carpet bombings and pogroms further north, families who had been ethnically cleansed from their lands during the 1948 Nakba and 1967 Naksa. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports that over 1.7 million people are internally displaced within Gaza, adding that it is ‘nearly impossible’ to distribute aid. The completion of the US-built floating ‘aid’ pier off the Gaza coast gives de facto backing to the Zionist blockade, since it can only handle 150 Israeli-checked aid trucks a day compared to the minimum of 500 needed. Just six entered on 11 May. Palestinian factions strongly oppose this US intervention and call for military defence against any mobilisation of imperialist forces. 

Rafah resists

Zionist efforts to encircle Rafah have been frustrated. Resistance forces successfully target ground soldiers, drones, tanks, bulldozers and other military vehicles. Hourly confrontations see Palestinian guerrillas employ mortars, booby traps, machine guns, rockets, anti-personnel shells, improvised explosives and other weapons devised from the remains of Zionist bombs launched on Gaza. By 14 May, Zionist forces were using smoke bombs to screen helicopters collecting their dead in Rafah, with scores of injured soldiers lifted to Israeli hospitals. A wholesale invasion of Rafah would expose the occupiers to increased losses at the hands of a substantial concentration of resistance organisations. These include fiercely active brigades of al-Qassam (Hamas), Saraya al-Quds (Islamic Jihad), al-Aqsa Martyrs (Fatah), Abu Ali Mustafa (PFLP), Omar al-Qasim (DFLP) and other factions. 

This reality, and the extreme human cost of Zionist genocide, underpins mounting splits between the occupation and its sponsors, and within the Israeli ruling class itself. Blatantly targeting civilians in Rafah prompts imperialist politicians to call for ‘restraint.’ Their real worry, as US government figures warn, is the threat of a strategic victory for the resistance. National security spokesperson John Kirby stated on 9 May: ‘Our view is any kind of major Rafah ground operation would actually strengthen Hamas’ hands at the negotiating table, not Israel’s.’ US President ‘Genocide Joe’ Biden called the Rafah attack ‘just wrong’, and implemented a token, temporary freeze on some ‘offensive’ arms supplies in early May. The $1bn transfer of tank shells and other arms continues apace, while Biden condemned moves by the International Criminal Court to prosecute Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. In a 12 May BBC interview, British Labour shadow cabinet member Jonathan Ashworth agreed with Foreign Secretary David Cameron’s reservations about a Rafah offensive: their only concerns were the lives of Israeli ‘hostages’. Ashworth added that a full invasion ‘would be catastrophic’, in blatant denial that it had already begun – and of ongoing Zionist war crimes in Jabaliya. Both opposed banning arms sales to the Zionist state or calling for an end to its genocidal war. British politicians are among those blocking any pressure for an Israeli ceasefire in the International Court of Justice.

Zionists in crisis

Though imperialist censure is so far mild, it has deepened a crisis within the Israeli ruling class. Zionist opposition leader Yair Lapid said that the Netanyahu government had ‘lost control’ and that ‘relations with the US are collapsing’. Coalition minister Benny Gantz threatened to collapse the government if a new Gaza strategy was not agreed. Months on from ‘Day after Hamas’ blueprints, resistance has left Zionist plans in tatters. The Lebanese front contributes to this deepening crisis for the occupation. According to retired Major General Eitan Dangote, ‘Hezbollah is engraving the image of defeat into the Israeli consciousness,’ while southern Lebanon is ‘fortified in terms of infrastructure’ to withstand ongoing Zionist bombings.

Facing a quagmire in Rafah – and mounting challenges in Tulkarem, Qalqilya, Nablus, Jenin and other centres of Palestinian resistance on the West Bank – the Zionists face further headaches. Far from Rafah being Gaza’s last stronghold for Hamas (a term always used for the broader armed resistance), Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza had emerged in mid-May as an even hotter region of confrontation. Back in October and November 2023, Jabiliya had been in the frontline of Zionist attacks, suffering a wave of massacres which killed thousands and flattened entire neighbourhoods. By early December, Israeli commander Hisham Ibrahim had claimed that ‘The goals in the northern section have almost been met,’ as the genocidal epicentre shifted southwards to Khan Younis. A military spokesperson declared on 7 January that Hamas had been ‘dismantled’ in northern Gaza. This has proved an empty boast. Zionist forces have returned, to bomb homes, ambulances and medical infrastructure in the area. On 17 May, they carried out four massacres in this region and killed 22 Palestinian residents on 18 May in bombings near Jabaliya’s Kamal Adwan Hospital. 

Resistance multiplies

On 15-18 May, al-Qassam brigades announced the killing of dozens of occupation troops in multi-pronged guerrilla attacks in Jabaliya, deploying novel al-Yassin shells against military bulldozers, dispatching anti-personnel shells and attaching Shuath explosive devices to invading tanks. Such tactics involve great danger for resistance fighters, who emerge from tightly-dug ground tunnels reminiscent of Vietnamese tactics of guerrilla warfare. The Palestine Chronicle reported, ‘Today’s fighting in Jabaliya… suggests that Hamas, and other resistance groups may have done more than just regrouped… the Israeli army is weaker than ever, and the Palestinian Resistance has the upper hand, at all fronts.’

Endowed with supposed military superiority, the Zionist regime faces a mobile and creative force. Launching a barrage of rockets against the southern Kerem Shalom crossing on 13 May, the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades asked, ‘What Rafah are you talking about, when there are still lions fighting in the north? This barrage is part of the campaign in loyalty to the comrade Walid Daqqa,’ the veteran revolutionary prisoner killed by the Zionist prison regime on 7 April 2024. The PFLP reports daily successes in targeting Zionist tanks and ground forces in Jabaliya and nearby Hayy al-Zaytoon. 

Preceding the Rafah assault in the occupation blueprint, Zionist Defence Minister Yoav Gallant claimed on 2 February that the task of ‘dismantling Hamas’ in southern Khan Younis was complete. Yet, months later, resistance operations continue in the area: Al Aqsa Martyrs fighters hijacked four Zionist drones in the area on 24 and 26 April; Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades launched rockets at occupation vehicles in the area on 27 and 28 April; Saraya al-Quds fighters took control of advanced Skylark and Evo Max drones on 5 and 14 May. At the time of writing, occupation attacks on Khan Younis are still in progress, targeting Palestinian families displaced from Rafah and elsewhere. In the West Bank, the Jenin resistance is expanding in the face of Zionist collective punishment tactics being used in Gaza, destroying homes, killing non-combatants and carrying out mass arrests. Zionist torture of Palestinian prisoners is rife, resembling US and British imperialist tactics in Iraq; prisoners have had limbs amputated by their captors and 18 are known to have been killed.

Palestinian Authority treachery

Aware that the resistance is now providing genuine leadership to the national movement, petty bourgeois Palestinians bolster the counter-revolutionary strategy of Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority (PA). Flanked by pro-imperialist monarchs at the Arab League summit in Manama on 16 May, Abbas blamed the resistance for the Zionist genocide, claiming that ‘The military operation carried out by Hamas by a unilateral decision on that day, 7 October, provided Israel with more pretexts and justifications to attack the Gaza Strip.’ These comments were condemned widely, with Hamas saying ‘Since 1948, the Zionist enemy has never waited for excuses to commit crimes against our people.’ 

The Ramallah-based BDS National Committee (BNC), led by Omar Barghouti, far from condemning Abbas’ speech, attacked the right of solidarity campaigners to support resistance. The BNC claimed that ‘advocating for armed resistance in the colonial West would likely harm the Palestine solidarity movement’, provoking repression and facilitating ‘the attempted criminalisation of the Palestine solidarity movement in all its diverse mobilisations, thereby alienating allies’. Immediately countering this position, the PFLP declared that the statement ‘contradicts our people’s legitimacy in practicing resistance and ignores consensus’. Pointing out that international boycott campaigns are ‘not linked to the BNC in Ramallah and do not take orders or decisions from it’, the PFLP statement expressed appreciation for all forces ‘expressing their support for Palestinian resistance in facing the genocidal and colonial Zionist war.’ Following the PFLP condemnation, and facing similar backlash from principled student organisers in the US, the BNC deleted its condemnation of the resistance. Previous liberalising tactics of Bargouthi’s BNC include attacking the pro-resistance stance of Within Our Lifetime in New York; disowning anti-imperialist BDS campaigns in Boston and Canada; lobbying musicians to remove their names from a festival boycott organised by Masar Badil; and collaborating with the US state to smear the Mapping Project. The self-appointed BNC leadership is cited regularly to justify the liberal positions taken by PSC, Novara Media and a range of other opportunist British currents. Speaking to FRFI, PFLP activists in Rafah saw the BNC position on resistance as ‘beyond opportunism,’ amounting to ‘collaboration’ with the occupier. PFLP success in countering the reformist tactics of this middle class Ramallah clique show that momentum is with the resistance.

Gilad Erdan, Zionist representative to the UN, responded to its 143-9 vote to recognise Palestinian statehood on 10 May by holding up an image of Yahya Sinwar, leader of Hamas operations in Gaza. Aimed as a protest, this futile act served as an admission of failure. Not only do Sinwar, Abu Obeida and other resistance leaders remain active in Gaza, but their popularity among the Palestinian masses is untouched by Zionist attempts to liquidate their cause and evict Hamas from its democratically elected position. The launching of al-Aqsa Flood operations on 7 October has served to expose the occupation and its backers to the world, as warmongering, racist, but ultimately vulnerable in the face of determined and well-organised resistance. In Gaza, Jenin and beyond, the Zionist mission to destroy popular support for the armed struggle is failing to progress. Campaigning to defeat this genocidal project means taking aim at imperialism and amplifying the voices of resistance.