Israel lost the 51-Day War but the Palestinian Liberation Struggle Continues

by Yossi Schwartz, Internationalist Socialist League (RCIT-Section in Israel/Occupied Palestine), 30.8.2014, 

The ceasefire agreed to by Israel and Hamas in Cairocame after 51 days of fighting. During this war Israel killed 2,142 people, most of them civilians including more than 490 children; it injured more than 10,000, and destroyed thousands of homes; it bombed mosques, hospitals, and schools. 69 Israelis were killed, nearly all of them soldiers.

Israel has claimed that it warned civilians about areas that it intended to attack by dropping leaflets and firing missiles that carried little or no explosive payload.Such claims are to defend Israel against accusations of war crimes for its responsibility in bringing about the heavy death toll. In reality, the Palestinians had no place to hide from the killing machine.

There is literally no safe place for civilians,” Jens Laerke, spokesman of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told a news briefing in Geneva. (1)

A War provoked by Israel

Unlike those who always ask who started a war, Marxists are interested in the nature of the fighting sides, and what a victory for each side will bring. Who cares whether, in the American Civil War, it was the North or the South that began the war? The real question was what would be the result of the victory for the South or the North, taking into account the social and political nature of the two sides. A victory for the North would lead by necessity to the liberation of the black slaves. Similarly, who cares who began the latest war in Gaza? The real question is what is the nature of each of the sides, and what will be the results of a victory for any one of them?

Nevertheless, and just for the record, it was Israel that initiated the war when it raided homes in the West Bank and arrested hundreds of people suspected as being supporters of Hamas. The pretext was the killing of three young yeshiva students in the weeks before the war began. Israel’s internal security service arrested Hossam Qawasmeh, whom Israel is claiming was the leader of the group responsible for the kidnapping and murder of the three. The news of the arrest of Qawasmeh comes after some Western mass media expressed skepticism regarding whether the kidnappers who acted in June did so following instructions of leaders of Hamas, even though Qawasmeh was indeed on the payrole of Hamas. The real reason that Israel arrested hundreds of Palestinians was the announcement made at the end of April of a Palestinian unity government, a government which Israel wanted to prevent.

The Class Interests behind the Gaza War

While most observers of the war between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza see it as a local conflict between Israel and Hamas, in actuality it is part of the war and the destruction currently taking place throughout the entire region. Behind this violence is the drive of the imperialists and their lackeys to maintain imperialist control of the oil-rich Middle East, while those fighting against the destabilized regimes, many of whom are clad in Islamic robes, are fighting against the rule of the imperialists. Wars are not fought for religious reasons. Behind the religious excuses lay class interests and it is our duty to analyze and present this analysis to the workers and the oppressed.

The puppet regimes of the Arab states that are controlled by the imperialists wanted Israel to crush Hamas.”This is unprecedented in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict,” said CNN’s Ali Younes, an analyst who has covered the region for decades. “Most Arab states are actively supporting Israel against the Palestinians — and are not even shy about it, or doing it discreetly”. (2)

The Arab puppets sense that behind the Islamists are the resentful masses. The reason these pro-Western reactionaries wanted Israel to win was their fear of a new wave of revolutionary uprisings. The reason the masses in the region are being pushed in the direction of the Islamists is the failure of the left to struggle for a socialist revolution, who rather tail one or another bourgeois force. By comparison, the Islamists appear to be fighters who are defending the poor and the oppressed.

However, unlike the Arab puppet rulers, the sympathy of the Arab masses is with the Palestinians. Therefore, the support of the Arab puppets for Israel, in a war which Israel could not win, may cost these phony leaders dearly. Israel’s defeat in the second Lebanese war of 2006 was one of the reasons for the uprising and still unfinished revolution of 2011.

Our Support for the Palestinian Victory

While we do not support Hamas’ strategy of firing on Israeli civilians, because this only provides Israel with a pretext to kill many Palestinians, Israel’s state terrorism is immeasurably worse. Our criticism of Hamas’ strategy does not blind us to the fact that Israel is the more dangerous enemy of the workers and the oppressed.

During the many slave rebellions in America, slaves often killed children of the white slave owners, children who, of course, were not responsible for slavery. However, only those who supported slavery stood on the side of the slave owners and argued that the slaves in rebellion are dangerous terrorists who put the lives of the black slaves themselves at risk.

If Hamas were a revolutionary organization, it would have armed the entire population of Gaza as best as it could. Under such circumstances, Israel would not have dared attack the Palestinians. However, regardless of their reactionary nature, Hamas fought against an imperialist state which is daily oppressing the Palestinians. This oppression includes the stealing of lands; the detention of Palestinian political prisoners; the siege Israel has imposed on Gaza for eight years; the killing of entire families; and the refusal to allow Palestinians refugees driven out of their homes by Israel in 1948 to return to their country.

Thus, from a working class, revolutionary perspective, while we do not grant the reactionary Islamists any political support, we recognize that the interest of the international working class was to see the military defeat of the imperialist side, namely Israel

In our politic analyses, we rely on the historical lessons of the class struggle. When the Communist International was still a worldwide revolutionary party, it took the side of ‘Abd el-Karim, a religious Moslem who led the Riffian rebellion (1922-1926) against the French and Spanish colonial occupation of the Riffians, and the short-lived Islamic Republic of the Rif. At that time, the pro-imperialist reformists took the side of the French imperialists, with the very same arguments used today against Hamas in its fight against Israel.

The three Camps in this War

Regarding this war, there are three camps: (1) the pro imperialists who claim that Israel has the right to defend itself against the terror of Hamas; (2) those who put the two sides on the same level; and (3) those, like us, who oppose the imperialist side and want to see the military defeat of the imperialists and their lackeys. Those who support Israel’s murderous war accuse us of supporting terrorism. The reformists and centrists, who refused to call for the defeat of Israel, accuse us of war mongering. What they cannot even understand is that it was and is their own policy which pushes the masses in the direction of the Islamists, who are justifiably seen as the servants of Israel and the other the imperialists. Some of these leftists in Israel, like Maavak Socialisti, are truly courageous, and participated in the peace demonstrations. For this they were attacked by right-wingers. This, however, does not change the fact that their politics have nothing to do with revolutionary Marxism

You don’t have to be a Marxist to understand that it is the nature of Israel, as a settler colonialist state, to conduct wars against the Palestinians so as to force them to give up their national aspirations to be free from oppression, regardless of the existing leadership of the struggle.

AsAdam Shatz, from the information clearing house, wrote in 2012:

“In 1982, it broke its ceasefire with Arafat’s PLO and invaded Lebanon, citing the attempted assassination of its ambassador to London, even though the attack was the work of Arafat’s sworn enemy, the Iraqi agent Abu Nidal. In 1996, during a period of relative calm, it assassinated Hamas’s bomb-maker Yahya Ayyash, the ‘Engineer’, leading Hamas to strike back with a wave of suicide attacks in Israeli cities. When, a year later, Hamas proposed a thirty-year hudna, or truce, Binyamin Netanyahu dispatched a team of Mossad agents to poison the Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in Amman; under pressure from Jordan and the US, Israel was forced to provide the antidote, and Meshaal is now the head of Hamas’s political bureau.

Operation Pillar of Defence, Israel’s previous war, began just as Hamas was cobbling together an agreement for a long-term ceasefire. Its military commander, Ahmed al-Jabari, was assassinated only hours after he reviewed the draft proposal. Netanyahu and his defence minister, Ehud Barak, could have had a ceasefire – probably on more favourable terms – without the deaths of more than 160 Palestinians and five Israelis, but then they would have missed a chance to test their new missile defence shield, Iron Dome, whose performance was Israel’s main success in the war. They would also have missed a chance to remind the people of Gaza of their weakness in the face of Israeli military might. The destruction in Gaza was less extensive than it had been in Operation Cast Lead, but on this occasion too the aim, as Gilad Sharon, Ariel’s son, put it in the Jerusalem Post, was to send out a Tarzan-like cry that lets the entire jungle know in no uncertain terms just who won, and just who was defeated. (3)

From the very beginning of this latest war, the ISL and the RCIT took the side of the oppressed Palestinians, without giving Hamas any political support. This refusal to support Hamas is due to our recognizing that, sooner or later, because of their bourgeois class interests, they will betray the Palestinian revolutionary struggle.

What is the Perception of the Outcome of this War by the Masses?

While many people ask what was the aim of Israel in this war, one clear aim like that of all of Israel’s wars against the Palestinians: to break the will of the Palestinians to resist Israel rule in throughout all of Palestine. It was not a war between the mighty army of Israeli against 15,000 Hamas fighters; it was a war of the Israeli state against the Palestinian people and their will to be free.

Thus, the result of this war should be judged by the perceptions of the Palestinians themselves and of the Arab masses throughout entire region as to who exactly won the war.

If the perception of the Palestinians and the Arab masses is that Israel won the war, then the imperialist side won another battle in the Middle East. But if the perception of the Palestinians and the Arab masses is that Israel lost the war, they will feel more confident that the imperialists can be defeated.

The fact that Hamas, by itself, stood for 51 days against one of the strongest armies in the world is a victory for the Palestinians.

The Terms of the Agreement

According to the British Guardian:

The terms of the deal – brokered by the Egyptian government, and reached on the 50th day of the conflict – appeared to be almost identical to those agreed at the end of the previous war 21 months ago. Israel will open crossings on its border to allow humanitarian aid and construction materials to enter Gaza, and will extend the permitted fishing zone to six miles off the coast of Gaza. The Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt is also to be opened.

More difficult issues will be deferred for further indirect talks between the two parties in a month. They include Hamas’s demands for an airport and seaport in Gaza and the release of Palestinian prisoners, and Israel’s insistence on the disarmament of militant groups and the return of the remains of two of its soldiers killed in the fighting.” (4)

Both Israel and Hamas have presented this agreement as a victory for their own side. But it is enough to observe the mood of the Gazans and the Israelis to know who won this war. The whole world was able to observe the differences in the mood amongst the Palestinians and amongst the Israelis.

Celebrations continued in the Gaza Strip late into last night following the cease-fire agreement. Addressing an enthusiastic crowd, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said Hamas “permitted” the Israeli residents of the communities near the border fence to return to their homes. “We attained victory when we were able to smash Israel’s deterrence,” he said.” (5)

However while the Gazans came out into the streets to celebrate, making the V symbol the Israelis are depressed. Not because Israel committed war crimes, but because, in the opinion of 90 percent of the Israelis, who supported the war against the Palestinians, Israel did not commit enough war crimes. Only 38 percent of Israelis were satisfied with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s performance as the Gaza fighting approached its 50th day, according to a poll for Channel 2 by market research firm Shiluv Millward Brown. (6)

Israel claims that the celebration in Gaza is nothing more than a show coerced by Hamas. However, this is not what the Palestinians think.

There were street celebrations in some parts of Gaza on Tuesday evening, with residents cheering, firing guns in the air, or raising green Hamas banners. In east Jerusalem, Palestinians set off fireworks above Damascus Gate, at the entrance to the Old City.” (7)

Israel never as isolated as before, Hamas never as popular as before

As a general rule, when an imperialist state loses a war there is a revolutionary uprising against the state from the left. However, in Israel, the criticism of the government is coming from the Israeli right, those who wanted to see the destruction of Hamas. This seeming conundrum actually reflects the nature of Israel as a settler colonialist state in which the Israeli population sees the state as a protector of their privileges.

What was the point of this war, they ask, when the result is much the same as it was after the 2012 war against Gaza? However, these critics are wrong. The results for Israel are much worse than those in 2012. Israel has never been as isolated as it is today; Hamas has never been as strong politically as it is today; and the Palestinian authority led by Abu Mazen which openly collaborates with Israel has never been as weak as it is today.

One has to add, that the war cost Israel at least 3 billion dollars. According to Moti Bassok of Haaretz, Israel’s Gaza operation cost it $60 million a day. (8)

The Palestinian Victory is a new Impetus for the Arab Revolution

Those who will pay the cost of the war will be the working class and the middle class in Israel and other countries which support Israel financially.

The Israelis will complain, but the government has nothing to be worried about. These complaints by the Israelis will not break them from their reactionary Zionist ideology. The Israelis will most likely not take to the streets to topple the government as is happening in Yemen, because they support the Zionist state. Even if they do form a protest movement, it will die as soon as the slogan “let the army win” or “let’s share the burden” will be heard, as happened to the Israeli protest movement in 2011.

But if the defeat of the Israeli state in this war will most likely not bring the Israeli masses to the streets, we can at least expect a new mass movement in the region against the pro-imperialist regimes.

This cease fire is merely a pause in the Israel-Palestine conflict. It promises to ease movement at all border crossings with the Gaza Strip, but will not lift the blockade. Nor will it return the Palestinian refugees to their homes or put an end to the expansion of the settlements.

Sooner or later, the war will erupt again, because Israel has never needed much pretext to go to war. It has to prove to the Arabs that Israel is strong and it has to prove to the West that Israel remains a strategic asset for the imperialists against the Arab masses, and especially against the Palestinians. Whenever Israel loses a war, it needs more wars. Israel is a death trap for the Israelis and its criminal actions are pouring oil on the fire of real anti-Semitism. It is true that Israel equates anti-Zionism with Anti-Semitism; but real Anti –Semitism exists and feeds on Israeli crimes. While the Israeli state claims that opposition to its crimes is Anti-Semitism, it has an interest in the spread of Anti Semitism, as this motivates more Jews to emigrate to Israel to oppress the Palestinians.

We repeat what the ISL and the RCIT have said from the beginning: The only solution is a single state in the whole of Palestine in which the Palestinians would naturally constitute the majority. All Jews will be welcomed to live in such a state as long as they accept the democratic rights of the Palestinian majority. In short, we fight to replace the State of Israel with a Democratic, Palestinian, Multinational and Socialist Workers and Fallahin Republic from the River to the Sea.

For a Free and Red Palestine from the River to the See!


(1) Stephanie Nebehay: Nowhere for Gazans to hide, U.N. says as aid target doubles, Reuters, July 23, 2014,

(2) Josh Levs: CNN This time, Gaza fighting is ‘proxy war’ for entire Mideast, August 1,2014.

(3) Adam Shatz: Why Israel Didn’t Win, Information Clearing House, November 25, 2012,

(4) Harriet Sherwood and Hazem Balousha: Gaza ceasefire: Israel and Palestinians agree to halt weeks of fighting, The Guardian, 27 August 2014,

(5) Jack Khoury: Gazans celebrate ‘victory’ into the night, August. 27, 2014,

(6) Jonathan Lis: Support for Netanyahu plunges, poll finds. Fewer than four in 10 Israelis think the prime minister is doing a good job, down from a record 82 percent around a month ago, Haaretz, August 26, 2014,

(7) John Reed: Palestinians celebrate as Israel and Hamas agree open-ended truce, Financial Times, August 26, 2014,

(8) Moti Bassok: Overall cost of Operation Protective Edge has passed $2.5 billion after 41 days of fighting, leaving big hole in state budget, Haaretz, 22 August 2014,

For more ISL and RCIT analyses and statements of the present war in Gaza see:

Joint Statement: Israel Starts Ground Offensive: Defend Gaza! Defeat Israel’s War! Support the Palestinian Resistance! For a Workers’ and Popular International Campaign to Boycott Israel! Down with the Regimes which Collaborate with Israel! For a Free, Red Palestine! Joint Statement of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency, Internationalist Socialist League (RCIT-Section in Israel / Occupied Palestine), the Communist Left of Australia and the Editor of the Blog (Sweden), 22.7.2014,

RCIT and ISL: Palestine: Forward to the Third Intifada! Organize the Uprising in Workers, Peasant, and Youth Popular Committees! Revitalize the Arab Revolution! Smash the Imperialist Apartheid State Israel! 7.7.2014,

Yossi Schwartz: Who Won the Gaza War? 8.8.2014,

Israeli supporter of the ISL: Report from Israel: My Experience as a Political Prisoner, 15.8.2014,

Hila Slutsky: Israel: Violence against Women during the Gaza war, 19.8.2014,

Gerard Stephens: Israel: While the Guns Roar, Exacerbated Political Intimidation of Israel’s Palestinian Citizens, 2.8.2014,

Michael Pröbsting: Ultra-Leftism and the Destruction of the Israeli State – A Reply to the Argentinean COR, 27.7.2014,

Boris Hammerschlag: Israel: Report on antiwar rally in Tel Aviv on 26 July, 27.7.2014,

Boris Hammerschlag: Fascists Attack Pro-Gaza Demonstration in Haifa, 21.7.2014,

Yossi Schwartz: Down with Israel’s New War! 9.7.2014,

Yossi Schwartz: Palestine: Masses Rise Up after the Killing by Burning Alive of Palestinian Youth, 6.7.2014,

RKOB: Austria: Tens of Thousands march in Solidarity with Palestine, 21.7.2014,

RKOB: Austria: Rally in Solidarity with Gaza on 13.7.2014

RKOB: Austria: Rally in Solidarity with Gaza on 9.7.2014,

For more ISL and RCIT historical analyses of Israel as a Zionist apartheid state and the revolutionary program for the Palestinian liberation struggle in numerous documents and articles, see among others:

Internationalist Socialist League: Summary of the ISL-Program, February 2014,

Yossi Schwartz: Israel’s War of 1948 and the Degeneration of the Fourth International, in: Revolutionary Communism, Special Issue on Palestine, No. 10, June 2013,

Yossi Schwartz: Israel’s Six-Day War of 1967. On the Character of the War, the Marxist Analysis and the Position of the Israeli Left, in: Revolutionary Communism, No. 12, July/August 2013,

Michael Pröbsting: On some Questions of the Zionist Oppression and the Permanent Revolution in Palestine, in: Revolutionary Communism, Special Issue on Palestine, No. 10, June 2013,

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