Gaza under siege: Israel shuts water, food and power for millions
Fire and smoke rise following an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, Oct. 8, 2023. Israel has announced that it has cut off all food, water, and fuel to the two million residents of Gaza. | Fatima Shbair/AP

Israel has ordered a “complete siege” of Gaza, cutting off water, food, and power to the 2 million civilians living in the tiny enclave. “No water, no food, no electricity will be allowed into Gaza,” the Israeli Defense Ministry has declared.

The death toll thus far is at least 800 Jewish civilians and even more Arabs dead in the four-day-old war and is expected to go much higher if the war is not ended.

The siege announced by Israel is expected to add to a humanitarian crisis already intensified as a result of the indiscriminate bombing of the territory by Israel since Saturday. Peace forces in Israel, including the widely read newspaper Haaretz,” have declared that the siege will not create peace and it blamed, in an editorial, the government of rightwing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the disaster now unfolding.

Israel has mobilized 300,000 reservists, a huge number for a country of only nine million. It is believed that they may be preparing a major ground invasion of Gaza and an occupation.

The Communist Party USA has declared that Israeli government policy is responsible for the violence and warfare now unfolding in Gaza:

“We join with the Communist Party of Israel, the Democratic Front for Equality and Peace (Hadash), our fraternal parties in Palestine, and other democratic and progressive forces around the world in placing full responsibility on Israel’s government for this weekend’s rapid escalation of military confrontation between Hamas and Israeli forces.

The party also condemned the killing of all innocent civilians. The decades of illegal occupation of Palestinian land by Israel have contributed to the death and injury of countless Palestinians and have also resulted in the death of innocent Jewish civilians.

“The CPUSA joins the CPI and Hadash in decrying civilian deaths, the party said in a statement. “The CPI and Hadash have declared: Even in difficult days like this, we repeat and voice our unequivocal condemnation of any harm to innocent civilians and call for their removal from the bloodshed. We send our condolences to all the victims of the occupation, Arabs and Jews alike.”

Some 150 Israelis are said to be held hostage by Hamas in Gaza.

Barbaric air raids by Israel are ongoing on the territory of Gaza, a small enclave near the southern tip of Israel that is literally an outdoor prison for its 2 million Palestinian inhabitants.

People in Gaza cannot leave there and have no recognized papers that allow them to travel anywhere in the world. The tiny “prison” enclave might work for 40,000 people but not for 2 million. The close proximity of the population to one another makes Israeli attacks even more deadly than they might otherwise be.

NBC correspondent Richard Engel made note of this on Sunday when he said the attack on Israel, was not, as many in the media were saying, a “surprise.” He expected it, he said, based on the suffering of the Palestinian people. Almost immediately the editor of the Jerusalem Post was put on so he could counter what Engel had said, an unusual move for NBC which rarely counters remarks made by its top correspondents with statements from political figures who disagree.

Claims by the entire corporate media in the West that “Israel was caught off guard” by the Hamas attacks late last week lack even a shred of credibility.

For millions of Palestinians that “war” or the “long war,” as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claims it will be, didn’t begin on Saturday. Recent actions by Israel in its cruel occupation of Palestinian land and refusal of the West, led by the United States, to do anything to curb those actions, are responsible for the slaughter underway now in Gaza – a slaughter that could well expand in the region and result in many thousands of deaths.

Netanyahu heads the most right-wing government in Israel’s history. It is labeled fascist even by opposition parties in Israel itself, including the Communist Party. Some of its own ministers agree: its Finance Minister, Bezalel Smotrich, describes himself as a “fascist homophobe.”

The violence is preceded by Israeli assaults on Palestinians in the recent period. The infamous Nation-State Law of 2018 formalized the subordinate status of the one-fifth of its citizens who make up the “Israeli Arabs” (a term which is itself used because Israel refuses to recognize Palestine as a nation or Palestinians as a people). Amnesty International has called Israel an apartheid state.

Amnesty has declared that the routine “massive seizures of Palestinian land and property, unlawful killings, forcible transfer, drastic movement restrictions, and the denial of nationality and citizenship to Palestinians” amounted to a single overarching system of repression “which amounts to apartheid under international law.”

Yet not only has Israel operated such a system for years, it got radically worse this year. Hundreds of Palestinians had been killed in 2023 before Hamas launched its assault on Saturday; The United Nations already deemed it the deadliest year for Palestinians since 2006.

Prime Minister Netanyahu’s bid to overhaul Israel’s judiciary and give an increasingly far-right Knesset the ability to overrule the Supreme Court was done not just to keep himself in power but to speed up the colonization and occupation of Palestinian land.

Planning a new “national guard”

His racist Security Minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, has been promised a new “national guard” to command that will terrorize Palestinian communities. In the last month alone there have been 700 brutal attacks by West Bank Israeli settlers against innocent Palestinian civilians.

It is this savage regime that the West, led by the United States, is supporting.

Talk of a “peace process” that the U.S. claims it supports is a very sad and deadly falsehood as Israel has recently stepped up its campaign to ethnically cleanse Jerusalem and imprison or kill Palestinians on a daily basis.

The U.S. government is the main contributor to Israel’s military budget to the tune of $3.3 billion this year alone and also bears responsibility for the escalation. Adding to the danger and the region’s instability, the U.S. continues to broker “unprincipled alliances and economic agreements between Israel’s reactionary anti-democratic apartheid-like state on one side, and the right-wing Arab monarchies on the other,” according to the CPUSA statement. “The repressive political regimes of these two sets of states mirror one another. Their machinations undercut the Palestinian struggle for human rights and political sovereignty while bolstering U.S. political, economic, and military supremacy in the region.

Over the last few weeks, Israeli settlers ran loose throughout the occupied territories under the auspices of the Israeli government. “They desecrated the Al-Aqsa Mosque and carried out another pogrom in Huwara,” they wrote.

A mob of hundreds of Israeli settlers marched on the town of Huwara torching cars and homes while the Israeli army stood by. The attacks by Hamas were the result, not the cause of this week’s escalation. “This escalation endangers the entire region in a regional and dangerous war – which the right-wing government has been fueling since its first day,” says the Israeli CP.

Demand Biden act now to end war

‘The CPUSA demands the Biden Administration act now to end the war and help bring about a political solution that upholds the rights of the Palestinian people. This must include ending military support to Israel. We call on the people of our country to make their feelings known in every way possible including protests.

The full statement of the CPUSA appears separately on this page.

Not mentioned in corporate media is that the Biden administration is trying to arrange for “peace” and diplomatic relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia. What underlies this effort is an important thing the U.S. wants in return. Saudi Arabia gets access to lucrative business deals in Israel in exchange for an increase in oil production by Saudi Arabia to offset the damage the U.S. has done to the world economy with its war policy in Ukraine.

U.S. Sanctions against Russia, China, Venezuela, and other countries have cut the supply of oil, driving up prices in Europe and elsewhere. Deals between apartheid Israel and right-wing Arab governments like Saudi Arabia, the Biden administration hopes, will increase the oil supply and prevent countries from coming out against U.S. sanctioning of Russia and other countries.

Oil prices soared after the Russian invasion of Ukraine because the U.S. blockaded the purchase of Russian fossil fuel supplies by its European allies and because the U.S. and some of those allies criminally blew up the NordStream pipelines, further cutting the potential for those supplies.

The U.S. claims to support Palestinian rights but its policies say otherwise. One U.S. administration after another has mouthed slogans that support Palestinian rights while actively working to prevent any progress that might ensure them. The U.S. Congress has repeatedly welcomed and celebrated one Israeli Prime Minister after another, including Netanyahu, who has encouraged attacks on Palestinians in the occupied territories.

Inside Israel, Netanyahu is using the conflict to solidify support behind his right-wing regime. Yair Lapid, for example, a so-called centrist politician is entering the right-wing Netanyahu coalition so that Netanyahu will have a “broader” group to rely on for whatever he wants to do.

Another minister in the Netanyahu government, the right-wing security minister, Ben Gvir, has used the conflict to call for stepping up the attacks by Israeli settlers in the West Bank against Palestinian civilians and he is using the conflict to call for quick approval of 5,000 new settlements in that occupied territory.

The war we see unfolding now in the Mideast is the inevitable result of preventing justice in the Middle East. it is both the creation of widening fascism and racism in apartheid Israel and the fueling of burning – and now exploding – anger among Palestinians against it.

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John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.