Israel invades Rafah and blocks all aid to Gaza – working class must call general strikes to support Palestine and end genocidal war

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ON MONDAY evening, the political bureau of Hamas announced that it had approved a ceasefire deal in Gaza.

This surprise move prompted the BBC’s International Editor Jeremy Bowen to observe that it completely ‘upended Israel’s expectations of what might happen in the next few weeks’.

Bowen said Israel’s assumption was that Hamas would not accept the ceasefire proposal, which had been the subject of ongoing negotiations and which ‘the Americans called ‘exceptionally generous’.

Israeli defence minister Yoav Gallant had told US defence secretary Lloyd Austin on Sunday night that ‘military action is required’ in Rafah that there was no alternative, as Hamas had rejected every proposal for a temporary ceasefire and release of hostages.

This was the fig leaf grasped by the US to give the nod to the Israelis to launch a barbaric, genocidal attack on Palestinian men, women and children who’d fled to Rafah, driven by the mass murder throughout Gaza in search of a ‘safe area’. 1.5 million Palestinians, including over 600,000 children, shelter in the southern Gaza city.

The announcement by Hamas that it was prepared to accept a ceasefire deal put forward by Qatari and Egyptian mediators has thrown a spanner in the works of the narrative adopted by Israel’s supporters in the imperialist nations, namely that the Hamas refusal to accept ceasefire proposals is to blame for the onslaught on Rafah.

The immediate reaction of the Netanyahu government was to dismiss the Hamas agreement as a ‘trap’ for the Zionists. The ‘trap’ being that it exposes the real intentions of the Israelis to lay waste to Gaza and drive every Palestinian into the sea or the grave.

Yesterday morning, following a night of air raids on the city that killed at least 20, Israeli troops and tanks took control of the Rafah crossing with Egypt – the main aid lifeline to Gaza. Now in complete control of the crossing, Israel has blocked even the trickle of humanitarian aid it had previously allowed to enter.

Sam Rose, a director of planning at the United Nations relief agency UNRWA, told Al Jazeera that the closure has had ‘devastating impacts for the people of Gaza who are already on the verge of famine’.

Hisham Edwan, a spokesperson for the Gaza border crossing authority, said that Israel has ‘sentenced the residents of the Strip to death’ by closing the crossing.

In a statement, Hamas condemned Israel, saying: ‘By deciding to close the Rafah and Kerem Shalom border crossings, Israel is leading the region towards a disaster and continues its policy of starvation and persecution of Palestinians.’

The statement continues: ‘International intervention is required, the Biden administration and the international community bear full responsibility for the war’s continuation.’

The fact is that this ramping up of its genocidal war springs from the complete failure of the Zionist regime to crush Palestinian resistance to occupation.

Antony Loewenstein, an expert on the Israeli military, pointed out that the Israeli attack on Rafah comes at a time when Hamas fighters are continuing to operate in the north of Gaza.

He told Al Jazeera: ‘Even if Israel is in Rafah, what we are already seeing in other parts of Gaza – the north and elsewhere – is Hamas forces still operating, still existing, still fighting. That will continue.’

The abject failure of the Netanyahu regime to achieve its aims of crushing Palestinian resistance to occupation has driven it towards attempting the complete annihilation of the Palestinian people.

The working class and youth internationally who have risen up against this genocidal war must now demand their trade union leaders stop sitting on the sidelines but take action to support the Palestinians by putting an end to their governments responsible for arming and propping up the Zionist regime.

US, EU and UK trade unions must take decisive action to halt all arms supplies and financial aid that Israel relies on to wage its war of starvation and murder in Gaza, by calling general strikes to bring down the Western capitalist regimes, replacing them with workers’ governments that will give full support to the Palestinian revolution and the establishment of the independent state of Palestine.