Israeli Communists condemn attacks on Gaza, call for another direction toward peace

The Communist Party of Israel and Hadash (the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality) condemned the deadly Dec. 27 attack by the Israeli Air Force on the Gaza Strip, which resulted in the killing of over 200 Palestinians.

In a statement issued the day of the massive airstrikes, the CPI called on communist and workers parties and social movements throughout the world to mobilize against what it termed “these Israeli war crimes” and called on the international community to “implement sanctions against Israel and indict Tzipi Livni, Ehud Barak and other Israeli political and military leadership for these blatant war crimes, committed as part of Israel's election process.”

The CPI said the attack on Gaza is part of the Israeli government’s ongoing siege of the Gaza Strip. “Israel is exploiting the last moments of the Bush administration to implement the deadly but ineffective imperialist policy of utilizing military force to effect political change,” the statement said.

It noted that demonstrations against the Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip were planned for Israel’s major cities, with demonstrations to be held that night in Tel Aviv, Haifa and Nazareth. The day before, hundreds of demonstrators attended a rally in central Tel Aviv to protest the expected Israeli military operation in response to Palestinian rocket attacks from Gaza. The rally was organized by the Coalition against the Gaza Siege and Hadash.

'I suggest that we go the other direction,' said Hadash Knesset Member Dov Khenin, a leading member of the Communist Party of Israel. Israel’s power, he said, “is our tragedy. One powerful blow will not bring the end. [Hamas] will respond with rockets and eventually we'll embark on an all-out war. Going in the other direction means reinforcing the lull, securing a ceasefire, and lifting the siege that only serves to unite the population around Hamas.”

A genuine peace process has to engage the Palestinian Authority, led by Mahmoud Abbas, he said. “What's tragic here is that it's possible. We just need the desire.”

Khenin added that it is 'essential to secure a prisoner swap that would include Gilad Shalit.' When asked why few Israelis object to the war in Gaza, he responded: 'People lost their hope. They realize that what's happening is bad, yet they think there's no other option. Yet we are not destined to be the victim of history.'

Another rally participant, former Knesset Member Tamar Gozansky, also a leading member of the CPI, said, 'Two years ago we protested at the same site, before the Second Lebanon War. We were ostracized and referred to as traitors. Yet several months later, all the people who made fun of us carried their own signs to Rabin Square and protested against Olmert's policy. I really hope that we won't have yet another reason to say: 'We told you so.'”

In an earlier statement, Khenin said, 'A comprehensive war in Gaza is dangerous and unnecessary and will put the lives of thousands of Gazans and western Negev residents at risk.'

“War is not the solution” to the problem of the Kassam rockets fired into Israel by Hamas, he continued. 'There is another way: a real truce agreement. Not just a ceasefire, but also ending the Gaza blockade and easing the extreme suffering of a million and a half people.'