Israel attacks Gaza and Abbas cancels visit

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YESTERDAY an Israeli aircraft bombed a building of the Hamas-run Executive Force in Gaza, killing at least one person and injuring about 45 others.

At the same time the latest truce between Hamas militia men and their rivals from Fatah appeared on the edge of collapse when one man was killed at a Hamas funeral, making over 40 people killed in the last five days of fighting between Hamas and Fatah forces.

After the Israeli raid President Mahmud Abbas cancelled his visit to Gaza, which was undertaken to try and preserve the ceasefire between Fatah and Hamas.

Earlier, Israeli tanks moved a few metres into the eastern Gaza Strip, although military officials said there were no plans for a ground attack.

Abbas had been due to meet Prime Minister Ismail Haniya of Hamas for talks on ending the violence, but his aides said he did not want to go until he was sure Hamas was firmly committed to the latest ceasefire.

Deputy Prime Minister Azzam al-Ahmad said that Abbas could declare a state of emergency.

The plain fact is that the death of Yasser Arafat, which many Palestinians are convinced was the result of Israeli poisoning, opened up the way for the bourgeois nationalist Fatah leadership to disintegrate into an orgy of careerism and corruption, which resulted in them being wiped out by the Palestinian masses who voted decisively for Hamas in the first Palestinian general election.

The Western powers favoured Fatah and encouraged Fatah not to accept the result of the election.

Meanwhile, the US-UK alliance cut off all aid of any sort to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, reducing the Palestinians to starvation level.

This was a collective punishment of the Palestinian people for the crime of voting for Hamas, which does not recognise the state of Israel, instead of the US-UK’s choice of Fatah.

The Western and Fatah pressure piled onto Hamas resulted in the recent formation of the government of national unity.

Now this regime is being broken up by a new round of fighting which smacks of a developing coup attempt, to bring down the government of national unity and create the conditions for the most pro-Western section of the Fatah leadership to return to power after a new general election has been forced on the people.

Meanwhile, the Israeli state is rearming. According to the Tefen plan that is emerging for 2008-2013, the IDF will place much more powerful ground forces at the centre of its priorities.

According to this plan, the ground forces’ budget will grow from 2008, and the Israeli army believes that it will take three billion shekels to bridge the gap.

The current plan to dismantle battalions and brigades of the army in favour of the air force will be abolished, and the future is for much bigger tank forces.

The IDF will continue to manufacture Merkava Mk 4s in the next Five-Year Plan. Many resources will also be invested in developing and equipping the IDF, with ‘active armour’ produced by RAFAEL (Armament Development Authority) and Israel Military Industries to protect the IDF’s armoured vehicles. The US will be funding this expansion of military power, no doubt.

The Zionists are aiming to powerfully rebuild and expand their ground forces for new wars against Lebanon and Syria.

The Palestinian civil war in embryo must be halted before it becomes the real thing – a fact that can only benefit Israel, the US and the UK and harm all Arabs.

The brand of Palestinian bourgeois nationalism which sees no force in the world bigger than the US, and constantly seeks to win its support and its approval, has become a reactionary force.

It must be replaced by revolutionary socialism that will unite the poor and the oppressed with the working class, to fight for a socialist Palestine, in alliance with the workers of the Lebanon, Syria and Iraq and for the defeat of US imperialism. There is no other road forward.