The world must act to defend Palestinians

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YESTERDAY morning Israel announced that all the crossings between the Gaza Strip and Israel were closed.

Israeli Defence Minister, Ehud Barak issued instructions to close the crossings on Thursday night, as Israel turned the screw of hunger and cold much tighter against the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip by further reducing fuel supplies to Gaza.

People have been banned from crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip, except where the Zionists accept there is an extreme medical emergency. The transfer of goods has also ceased. This includes UN aid convoys carrying much-needed supplies that keep large numbers of people just about alive.

Cold, hunger, and no medical care for the ill, whether the needy are children or the elderly, is the collective punishment of the Palestinian people of the Gaza Strip for supporting Hamas.

Meanwhile, the Israeli military action is continuing.

Seven Palestinians were injured, three of them seriously, in an Israeli air strike on the interior ministry of the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip, in Tel Al-Hawa, on Friday afternoon. The building was completely destroyed. Seven people were taken to Ash-Shifaa’ Hospital in Gaza City, two of them in a critical condition.

Israeli warplanes also bombed the marine headquarters of the security services, west of Dir Al-Balah.

Two Palestinians were killed and two others injured on Friday morning in an Israeli air strike on the city of Jabalia, in the northern Gaza Strip.

Muawiyya Hassanain, director of ambulance and emergency services in the Palestinian Ministry of Health, identified one of the dead as twenty-two-year-old Ismail Radwan. The other, seventeen-year-old Mahmoud Ramadan, was seriously wounded in the attack and died later in hospital.

The latest killings bring the number of dead to 35 in four days of Israeli military offensives against the Gaza Strip.

However the Israeli attacks are not being confined to the Gaza Strip. On the West Bank, the Al-Aqsa Brigades have refused to accept the dictate of the Fatah government in the West Bank to disarm, while Force 17, which was founded by Yasser Arafat, is permanently under attack from the Zionist secret police and death squads.

A leader of the Al-Aqsa Brigades, was killed during several hours of clashes with Israeli Special Forces in the Balata refugee camp, east of Nablus on Friday.

Israeli Special Forces stormed Balata refugee camp east of Nablus at dawn, and surrounded a house where four brigades members were staying. Armed clashes ensued and Al-Aqsa leader Ahmed Sanakra was killed. His three fellow combatants, Yousef Hanoun, Mohamed Hweta and Mahmoud Shtawi, were arrested.

Medical workers reported that three-year-old Yazan Qar’an was also shot and wounded during the large scale invasion, carried out by more than 50 military vehicles.

In Bethlehem the Israeli army stormed the house of Brigadier Kifah Barakat, a former commander of Force 17 of the Palestinian security services in Bethlehem, in a dawn raid on Friday. Israeli soldiers threw a grenade at the front door, before entering. The soldiers were accompanied by intelligence officers.

Once more it is being spelt out in blood that the Bush- Olmert peace programme will be established over the dead bodies of thousands of Palestinians, and tens of thousands of Arabs. It will be an imperialist peace to benefit the US, the UK and Israel.

It is clear that the Palestinian leaders must boycott the peace talks and reunite Hamas and Fatah on a principled anti-imperialist basis, in the struggle for the Palestinian state.

Meanwhile the workers organisations of the world must stop standing by and watching the Palestinians being butchered by Israel, with the support of the US and the UK. The world’s trade unions must immediately impose a trade boycott on Israel and keep it on until a genuine Palestinian state is established.