Yasin assassination "Opened the gates of hell"
The assassination of Shaikh Ahmed Yasin, founder of Hamas, by the Israeli Defence Force last month clearly demonstrates the bankruptcy of the Sharon government. Four escorts and four ordinary civilians were also killed. That afternoon buses, town centres and shopping precincts throughout Israel were deserted as people braced themselves for revenge suicide bombings and voted with their feet on the success of Sharon's "war on terror". Yasin's funeral in Gaza was turned into the biggest demonstration ever in the area as 200,000 turned out. Large protests also took place in other towns and cities in the occupied territories. Palestinians living within Israel raised the call for a general strike.
If anything, by creating such a powerful symbol of martyrdom, Hamas' stock has risen in the eyes of many ordinary Palestinians. They compare them favourably to Arafat's corrupt Palestinian Authority which has done little to mobilize opposition to endless IDF incursions, assassinations and humiliations such as the massive separation wall cutting through the West Bank. Again the absence of condemnation by the US administration has registered with people and there is speculation that Hamas, who traditionally confined their attacks to within the borders of Israel/Palestine, will extend their campaign.
Sharon's poll rating has slipped to an all time low of 33%. He faces corruption charges and ongoing economic crisis and is using an escalation of repression as an attempt to rally the Israeli population around him. However there is a growing debate within Israeli society that the IDF's hard-line approach will never work.
Maavak Sozialisti, the Socialist Party's sister organisation in the region is stepping up its call for a withdrawal from the occupied territories, an end to the settlements, support for the refusniks in the IDF and independent united working class action across Israel/Palestine to take on the corrupt governments of Sharon and Arafat.
By Michael O'Brien