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

West Bank:
Army and Settlers against Palestinians

Jan 1, 2024

This article is translated from the December 20 issue, #2890 of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers Struggle), the paper of the revolutionary workers group of that name active in France.

Over the past two months, more than 300 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank by official Israeli repressive forces and settlers.

"All Palestinians are looked upon by the Israelis as if they were the ones who perpetrated the Hamas massacres," says a Palestinian human rights activist. Indeed, while the French Foreign Minister declares that her government "has decided to take national measures against certain extremist Israeli settlers," their exactions are multiplying. The crushing of Gazans under bombs is accompanied by military raids and attacks by militias of armed extreme right-wing settlers against villages and refugee camps where some of the three million Arabs living on the West Bank live.

In the space of a few days in the first half of December, the army once again staged murderous raids on refugee camps, home to Palestinian families driven from their land since 1948. In Jenin, on the pretext of having found tunnels—so what?—soldiers killed twelve young people, tanks and bulldozers ransacked houses and shops, and crushed cars. In the Tulkarem camp, five Palestinians were killed, and four more in the Faraa camp in Tubas.

To make their anger and despair heard, on December 11, residents of West Bank towns and East Jerusalem were called out by Palestinian organizations for a general strike. By stopping their daily activities, they wanted to mark their opposition to the support of U.S. leaders for Netanyahu’s murderous policies and the programmed crushing of Gaza, expressed by the U.S. veto at the U.N.

In Ramallah, however, a large demonstration, bristling with Fatah, DFLP and Hamas flags, gave voice to the anger of Palestinians of all ages, including many young men and women. Signs in English reading "Stop Genocide" clearly expressed condemnation of the massacre in Gaza. Beyond the borders, in Lebanon and Jordan, the population was also called upon to cease all activity.

In the West Bank itself, this day’s strike was just one more moment in a series of angry demonstrations. Gatherings, spontaneous or otherwise, and collective reactions against the exactions of the Israeli army and settlers are multiplying. Demonstrations by groups of young people, armed with stones, have also served as a pretext for murderous reactions by the Israeli army or groups of settlers, when they had not previously been ruthlessly dispersed by the Palestinian Authority police.

130,000 Palestinian workers have been reduced to unemployment following the withdrawal of their work permits by the Israeli government. Unlike Israelis, they are not entitled to any unemployment benefit, nor does the Palestinian Authority distribute any. "We’ve spent what we’ve earned," says a construction worker sent home. Like him, 70% of the workers in his town, who used to cross the border every day after long and arduous waits at checkpoints, are now destitute.

Poverty is setting in among the working population, against a backdrop of increasingly open warfare. The deployment of over 700,000 settlers and their violence, encouraged by the aggressive policies of the Israeli government, has already wiped sixteen Palestinian villages off the map. Faced with a state that continues to deny them the right to a national existence, many fear they will once again be driven out, as they were when Israel was created in 1948.