Palestinian Resistance Rises in Operation Al-Aqsa Flood

Palestine resistance fighters tear down fence between Gaza and occupied Palestine, October 7, 2023

At dawn on October 7, Palestinian resistance fighters launched a stunning assault from occupied Palestine to smash the siege on Gaza "with a comprehensive offensive confronting the occupier by land and air, taking control of Palestinian land, seizing occupation settlers and soldiers and launching thousands of missiles." The Palestinian resistance forces are fighting to advance towards the liberation of Palestine," Samidoun, the Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network wrote. They reported that Brigadier General Nimrod Aloni is one of the dozens of hostages they were able to take. The hostages are from among the occupation soldiers and settlers taken in order to liberate the 5,250 Palestinian prisoners in occupation prisons, including the 1,350 jailed without charge or trial under administrative detention, 39 women and 170 children.

The operation, called Al-Aqsa Flood, was launched on the 50th anniversary of the 1973 war in which Egypt reclaimed the occupied Sinai from Zionist occupation, "and is set to alter the direction of the struggle in occupied Palestine, moving from resistance toward revolution and liberation," the organization wrote. It explained that the resistance operation "comes in response to the ongoing stream of crimes against the Palestinian people, the daily murder of Palestinians on the streets of the West Bank of occupied Palestine, the siege on Gaza, the theft of land for settlements, the denial of refugees' right to return, imposing exile for over 75 years, the torture and attacks on the Palestinian prisoners, the ongoing invasions of Al-Aqsa Mosque, and the 75 years of Zionist occupation and over 100 years of imperialist domination and colonialism throughout occupied Palestine. It also comes to bring about the liberation of Palestinian prisoners, as part and parcel of the Palestinian people and land."

Samidoun continues: " [I]t is a decisive rebuke to the entire path of Oslo and normalization imposed upon the Palestinian and Arab people for the past 50 years, indicating a new path forward with a clear goal: liberation, and nothing less. It builds upon the liberation of south Lebanon from occupation by the Lebanese resistance, led by Hezbollah, in 2000, and the defeat of the Zionist invasion of Lebanon in 2006, as well as the successive heroic battles waged by the Palestinian resistance throughout occupied Palestine and especially from its base area of resistance land in Gaza.

Samidoun has joined the Masar Badil, the Palestinian Alternative Revolutionary Path Movement "in calling the masses of our Palestinian people, supporters of the resistance in exile and diaspora, allies from the liberation forces and movements, and solidarity committees with the Palestinian people everywhere, to express their support for the heroic Palestinian resistance, raise the flag of Palestine and the banners of resistance."  The Masar Badil has called on its organizations and supporters to "organize popular, political and media demonstrations and events to expose the Zionist crimes against our people in occupied Palestine, and to support the Al-Aqsa Flood operation announced by the Commander-in-Chief of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades [the military wing of Hamas], Brother Mohammed al-Deif."

The statement says: "The heroic Palestinian resistance has opened a chapter of battles of dignity and pride at the dawn of October 7, 2023, "and it is now responding to decades of continuous and repeated Zionist, U.S. and European aggression "against the masses of our Arab and Islamic nation."

For its part, Hamas stated this operation, called Al-Aqsa Flood was launched on October 7 with more than 7,000 rockets fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad resistance movement also said its fighters have joined the operation as Hamas called on Palestinians everywhere to fight and on resistance groups in Lebanon to join the fighting against Israel.

Israel responded with massive air strikes deep inside Gaza, killing scores and wounding hundreds of people and vowing unprecedented retaliation."Our enemy will pay a price the type of which it has never known," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. "We are in a war and we will win it." He told everyone in Gaza to evacuate or face the consequences of Israeli strikes, despite the fact that Gaza is an area of about 365 square km, and home to 2.3 million Palestinians, which has been under an Israeli occupation and blockade since 2007, meaning that the people have no where to go.

Palestinians inspect the ruins of mosques and homes following Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City, October 9, 2023. More than 500 Palestinians have been killed and at least 123,500 have been displaced by Israeli bombings as of October 9.

Crowds gather on October 9, 2023, for the funeral of 15-year-old Imad Jareh Adili, shot the night before by Israeli colonial forces at the entrance of Beita, south of Nablus. These forces have killed at least 11 Palestinians in the West Bank at demonstrations in support of resistance in Gaza and in confrontations with the army.

Israeli Energy Minister Israel Katz said on October 7: "I have signed an order instructing [Israel] Electric Company to stop the electricity supply to Gaza." Power outages have long been an everyday occurrence in Gaza and households only had electricity for several hours a day on a rotational basis on the days before recent power cuts started. Gaza's power authority informed that 80 per cent of the electricity supplies to Gaza from the national grid were cut off following Israel's announcement. As of October 9, the UN informs that the Gaza Power Plant is now the only source of power and could run out of fuel within days.

The United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in Israel, UN Human Rights Commission in its recent report (September 2023) concluded "that Israel has violated and continues to violate the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination by its prolonged occupation, settlement and annexation of the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967. The legal consequence of the violation of right to self-determination, which is an obligation erga omnes [toward all], is the responsibility of the State of Israel. The current occupation, which has lasted 56 years to date, is unlawful under international law. The result of the unlawful acts entails legal consequences for Israel to bring an end to the 'internationally wrongful act.' All States and the UN are also under an obligation to act urgently to bring the unlawful acts to an end."

Palestinian children fill water bottles after Israeli colonial forces announce a "complete siege" cutting off food, water, fuel and electricity, October 9, 2023.

As of October 9, the death toll of Palestinians has risen to 687 people, including 140 children and over 2,900 injured. At least 900 Israelis have been killed and over 2,616 wounded. The United Nations says 123,538 Palestinians have been displaced by fighting. The UN agency for Palestinian refugees estimates that 73,538 people are sheltering across 64 schools in Gaza, some of which are designated emergency shelters.

Meanwhile, 130 Israelis are reportedly being held captive and approximately 750 Israelis are currently missing, according to Israeli media. The U.S. said that nine U.S. citizens have died during ongoing hostilities in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Israel has now initiated Operation Swords of Iron which it says is directed against Hamas but in fact targets the entire population of Gaza. Israel has amassed a force 300,000 strong and an all out Israeli ground attack on the Gaza Strip is expected. Israel's Defence Minister Yoav Gallant announced a "complete siege" of the Gaza Strip on October 9.

"I have ordered a complete siege on the Gaza Strip. There will be no electricity, no food, no fuel, everything is closed," Gallant said. On the morning of October 10, the Israeli military said its air force had dropped 2,000 munitions and more than 1,000 tonnes of bombs on Gaza in the last 20 hours. It has shelled 20 high-rise residential buildings, mosques, hospitals, banks and other civilian infrastructure, news agencies report. Despite the large number of civilian buildings struck, the Israeli military claims it has destroyed 800 military targets in Gaza as part of its bombing campaign. Gallant said, "We are fighting human animals and we are acting accordingly."

Salama Marouf, head of media for the Hamas government of Gaza, said Gallant's statement was "cover to justify the occupation's aggression against civilian people and property." UN observers concur. Israeli airstrikes and shelling in Gaza have targeted houses and apartment buildings, with some struck without warning for residents to evacuate, the UN said on October 9. One Israeli airstrike in the city of Rafah in southern Gaza, for example, killed 19 members of the same family. Conducting airstrikes against civilian targets without warning has become Israel's new normal. "The execution of Israeli hostages will be the response to the Israeli forces' attacks on residential buildings and civilian facilities," Hamas said in a statement.

Intense clashes are also reported as the resistance fighters engage Israeli troops in several cities across the occupied West Bank, including clashes in Jenin, Nablus, Jericho, and Hebron. Palestinian media reports more than 300 acts of resistance in the West Bank since Hamas began its operation, including several shootings targeting Israeli troops. The Jalameh checkpoint was set ablaze by Palestinian fighters on October 8. Confrontations with Israeli forces were reported in the town of al-Issawiya, northeast of occupied Jerusalem and in Wadi al-Jooz, Ras al-Amoud, and al-Thawri neighborhoods of East Jerusalem.

International Response

U.S. President Joe Biden has ordered the largest U.S. aircraft carrier and warplanes to move closer to Israel in a show of support for Israel's war against the Palestinian people. The U.S. also promised to provide munitions and equipment to Israel, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement on October 9. Israel has also requested the Biden administration provide it additional Iron Dome missile interceptors, small diameter bombs, and machine gun ammunition.

For his part, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said that Britain "unequivocally" stands with Israel and has offered potential military aid. He also posted a picture of Downing Street to social media, with the Israeli flag projected on it with the caption: "We Stand with Israel." Another was projected on London's City Hall.

Lebanon's Hezbollah resistance movement says it has fired shells and guided missiles toward Israeli-occupied Lebanese territories, in response to Israeli bombardment of its installations. Hezbollah said it had targeted the Radar, Zabdin, and Ruwaysat Al-Alam sites in the Israeli-occupied Shebaa Farms. "The attacks were carried out on the path to liberate what remains occupied of our Lebanese land and in solidarity with the victorious Palestinian resistance, the struggling and patient Palestinian people," Hezbollah said.

Qatar is holding negotiations between Palestinian organizations and Israel for a possible deal on a prisoner swap. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has condemned Israel's ongoing military aggression against the people in Palestine, stressing that the main cause of the latest bloody conflict is the regime's disregard for the legitimate rights of the Palestinians. The OIC said the "continuation of the Israeli occupation and its failure to adhere to the resolutions of international legitimacy, and the escalation of the pace of its attacks and daily crimes against the Palestinian people, their land and holy sites, and depriving them of their legitimate rights is the main reason for instability."

Iran's mission to the United Nations says Operation Al-Aqsa Storm is a "legitimate defence" against decades of Israeli occupation. It rejected allegations that Tehran had a role in Hamas' large-scale military operation. It has been "taken solely by Palestine itself," the mission said. "The resolute measures taken by Palestine constitute a wholly legitimate defence against seven decades of oppressive occupation and heinous crimes committed by the illegitimate Zionist regime," the mission said.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba issued a statement on October 8 which said: "The Republic of Cuba expresses grave concern over the escalation of violence between Israel and Palestine, which is the result of 75 years of continuous violation of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and Israel's aggressive and expansionist policy. Cuba demands a broad, fair and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, on the basis of the creation of two states, which enables the Palestinian people to exercise their right to free determination and to possess an independent and sovereign state within the borders prior to 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

"The United Nations Security Council must fulfill its mandate and put an end to the impunity of Israel, the occupying power, of which the United States has historically been accomplice, by repeatedly obstructing the body's action, undermining peace, security and stability in the Middle East. Cuba calls for peace and the search for a solution through negotiation that avoids a further escalation of conflict that has already cost the lives of tens of thousands of people."

Indonesia and Pakistan also expressed support for the Palestinians. They called on Israel to immediately halt its brutal aggression against Palestinians. "Indonesia is deeply concerned with the escalation of conflict between Palestine and Israel. Indonesia urges the immediate end of violence to avoid further human casualties," the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement. "The root of conflict, namely the occupation of the Palestinian territories by Israel, must be resolved, in accordance with the parameters agreed upon by the UN," the statement said. This came after the Indonesia Hospital, located in the northern Gaza Strip city of Beit Lahia, was hit by Israeli forces on Saturday killing one of the facility's local staff. Indonesian non-governmental organization Medical Emergency Rescue Committee, or MER-C, which funded the hospital, has vociferously condemned the attack. "The direct attack on the Indonesia Hospital complex in Beit Lahia, Gaza Strip on Saturday appears to amplify how in the Israel-Palestine war, international humanitarian law is never under consideration for Israel," the committee said in a statement.

Pakistan's President Dr. Arif Alvi criticized Israel for suppressing the rights of Palestinians, urging the international community "to play its active role" to ease the tension between Israel and Palestine. "Progress toward peace cannot materialize without condemnation of usurpation and brutalization of Palestinian rights and people by Israel," Alvi wrote "A viable and sovereign State of Palestine must be established on the basis of pre-1967 borders and UN resolutions. The international community needs to intervene to bring an end to the conflict, protect civilians, and work towards a lasting peace in the Middle East," he added.

Riyad H. Mansour the Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations urged the international community not to let Israel "double down on its terrible choices," but to instead encourage it to change course and remind it that "there is a path to peace, where neither Palestinians nor Israelis are killed. And it is the one diametrically opposed to the one Israel has embarked on." "[H]istory for some media and politicians starts when Israelis are killed," he said, adding that "Our people have endured one deadly year after another. [...] Where is the international protection the Palestinian people are entitled to when the occupying power violates international law and harms those it is obliged to protect? Aren't Palestinian lives worth saving? The Palestinian civilians killed, the Palestinian children killed in occupied Palestine, could have been spared. Isn't that a moral and legal obligation and a contribution to peace? Why nothing is done when those killed are Palestinians? We need to think hard of what logic we want to see prevail here. If this is about vengeance, then many Palestinians will feel they have much to avenge. If this is about peace, then the way to it is not through further entrenching oppression and occupation but by ending it. You cannot say ‘nothing justifies killing Israelis' and then provide justifications for killing Palestinians. We are not sub-humans. We will never accept a rhetoric that denigrates our humanity and reneges our rights, a rhetoric that ignores the occupation of our land and oppression of our people."

Mansour urged the international community to consider a different path, one that prioritizes the lives and rights of the Palestinian people. He called for equal measures of freedom and security, emphasizing that standing up against occupation is not just the right thing to do morally, but also legally and politically.

"Last October, we stated before the Security Council: The Palestinian people will be free, one day or the other, one way or another. We chose the peaceful way, the one the international community advocates for. Do not let Israel prove us wrong, for our sake and theirs," said Mansour. "When Israel now tries to justify yet another assault by the same faulty premise, no one should say or do anything to encourage it down this path. We know only too well that the messages about 'Israel's right to defend itself' will be interpreted by Israel as license to kill, to pursue on the very path that led us here."

The UN Security Council met on October 8 to discuss the developments but was unable to issue a statement as no agreement could be reached.

This article was published in
Volume 53 Number 11 - October 2023

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