The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Netanyahu’s Murderous Escalation

Jun 26, 2023

This article is translated from the June 23 issue #2864 of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers’ Struggle), the newspaper of the revolutionary workers group of that name active in France.

Unusually violent fighting broke out after the Israeli army entered the city of Jenin in Israel-Palestine’s northern West Bank on June 19th. Six people were killed including a 15-year-old boy, and more than 90 Palestinians were wounded.

Military operations happen almost daily in the West Bank. But this is the first time since the end of the second Intifada in the early 2000s that an Israeli helicopter has fired missiles at a densely populated residential area—near a Palestinian camp where more than 23,000 people live.

The city of Jenin is located in a so-called autonomous zone, which is said to be administered by the Palestinian Authority set up after the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993. In reality, the Israeli army does what it wants, more and more.

The crackdown on Palestinians has escalated since Israel’s coalition government of ultra-nationalist and religious far-right parties took power in December. The leader of the Religious Zionist Party, finance minister Bezalel Smotrich, called on the army to carry out a “widespread campaign” in the West Bank. This policy fueled the escalation of violence that has killed at least 164 Palestinians and 21 Israelis so far this year.

Added to the army’s violence is the building of new Jewish-only settlements, which the government plans to accelerate. Smotrich was given full powers on June 18 to plan more settlements. He intends to double the number of settlers in the West Bank, currently 700,000, including 229,000 in East Jerusalem. According to a representative of Israeli NGO Peace Now, these plans will make it as easy to build settler housing in the West Bank as in Israeli cities like Tel Aviv and Haifa.

Meanwhile, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu began “reforming” the judicial system, as he promised his far-right allies he would do. This involves strengthening of legislative power at the expense of Israel’s supreme court, which has stood up to religious movements several times when they tried to extend their control over everyday life.

Since January, tens of thousands of opponents of this reform have been demonstrating every Saturday. They rightly denounce the evolution toward an increasingly authoritarian regime shaped by the most reactionary groups. Faced with a mobilization which has broad support, including within the state apparatus and the army, Netanyahu was forced to declare a “pause” at the end of March. On June 18, under pressure from his far-right allies, he just announced he now will re-introduce his bill.

In order to be able to pose as the guarantor of the security of the Israelis, Netanyahu misses no opportunity to raise tensions with Palestinians. No doubt this helps explain the Israeli army’s violence in recent days.

This policy can only fuel an ever more deadly escalation. It leads the Israelis themselves into a dead end. “Don’t let Ben-Gvir [far-right Israeli National Security Minister] get away with murder in Arab society,” a placard held by an Israeli protester read. This perspective shows the hope of a future where Jews and Palestinians live in peace on the same territory.