A collage featuring black and white photograph of Walid Daqqah: a thin, middle-aged Palestinian man, with a wise-looking face. He is smiling, and raises his left hand in a V-for-Victory sign.

Gaza is Free and Does Not Bargain


The statements of the Resistance groups are a valuable source of knowledge about what's happening in Palestine. So why aren’t British journalists paying attention?

The Israeli idea is that the real problem does not lie with the official Palestinian leadership; it is the Palestinian community which rejects the Israeli maximalist solution and expresses its readiness to oppose it, supplying an endless flow of fighters to the resistance organisations and rendering every possibility of agreement with the Palestinian negotiators impossible to implement.
Walid Daqqah1

To ravage, to slaughter, to usurp under false titles, they call empire; and where they make a desert, they call it peace.
Calagacus, quoted in Tacitus.2

On December 30th, an ‘Israeli’ soldier being held by the Martyr Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades (the armed wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) was killed following a failed rescue attempt. In an official statement, the group described the “many human losses” they inflicted, and how “dragging behind the tails of disappointment and defeat…the zionist enemy in its stupidity and arrogance, targeted that location with its air force to cover the retreat of its defeated soldiers which led to the killing of the prisoner”. The Martyr Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades have also reported that they are in possession of IOF laptops and a set of flash drives, which were seized “during the heroic Al-Aqsa Flood battle” and through which they have “obtained… valuable and precious information, military plans, and private data… [from which] our fighters are now benefitting.”

On January 4th, US and “coalition” forces, quite possibly including Britain, assassinated Iraqi Popular Mobilisation Forces commander Taleb Al-Saedi in Karbala. The Popular Mobilisation Forces are part of the Iraqi Armed Forces and were cohered predominantly to fight ISIS. The PMF’s role as part of the Iraqi state, albeit with considerable autonomy, gives their position a contradictory character with regard to the US and Britain. They are among the most effective forces fighting ISIS, but, at the same time, elements of the PMF are designated by the US as terrorist groups. On the most basic level, the irony of assassinating a commander in a serious anti-ISIS military force, when fighting ISIS is the justification for the ongoing US and British presence, should be obvious. On top of this, the assassination of a figure who is, essentially, a senior commander in the Iraqi Army is a grotesque violation of sovereignty. In response to the assassination, the Iraqi government have opened talks aiming to set a timetable for the total withdrawal of US and coalition forces. The US has not accepted this demand, though it seems possible that their military presence will be reduced.3 The wider context for the assassination of Al-Saedi is the extent of Iraqi solidarity with Palestine.

‘Israel’ cannot be abstracted from world imperialism under the hegemony of the US, and the other side of this, of course, is that regional conflicts cannot be abstracted from the question of Palestine.

Both these stories matter a great deal, but I have seen no mention of them in the official press. Moreover, they have barely been mentioned in more critical outlets, or even on British pro-Palestinian social media. Only after the Iraqi Resistance killed three US soldiers on January 28th, “with the explicit purpose of stopping the zionist genocide on Gaza”, and the US immediately ordered reprisal strikes, did Western media begin to pay attention to the extent of Resistance attacks in Iraq and Syria—mostly by reporting on US Defence Department press conferences. One such report, in the Guardian, tells us that “[US Defence Secretary Lloyd] Austin acknowledged that there had been 160 strikes on US bases in Syria and Iraq since the Hamas attack on Israel on 7 October,” but offers little more explanation of the situation, and no broader contextualisation. In April, following Iran’s response to the ‘Israeli’ attack on the Iranian consulate in Damascus, the Guardian published a just-about-adequate piece aiming to contextualise ‘Israel’-Iran relations, which stated that, “after years in which both sides operated within the framework of a largely undeclared set of ‘rules’, Israel… bulldozed through every red line”. However, the analysis entirely ignored the existing role of the US in Iraq and Syria. The US appears only as a benign and fully external agent—but nothing could be further from the truth. The fact of the matter is, ‘Israel’ cannot be abstracted from world imperialism under the hegemony of the US, and the other side of this, of course, is that regional conflicts cannot be abstracted from the question of Palestine. The US is aiming to suppress—on behalf of ‘Israel’, but ultimately to secure its own hegemony—solidarity action with Palestine across the Arab nation.

Discovering this information has required no specialist journalistic skills, let alone any particular excellence as a journalist (or, come to that financial resources and time). I do not speak Arabic (or Hebrew, or Farsi), and nor do I have any Palestinian, Iraqi, Lebanese, Iranian or Yemeni contacts on the ground. All that is needed to access this information is a mobile phone, a degree of curiosity, and a belief that Palestinians (and people across the Arab world) are fully human, possessing the capacity not only to suffer intolerable situations, but, crucially, to resist them. It was this that led me to the Telegram channel Resistance News Network, which publishes statements in English from the various Palestinian Resistance groups, as well as other groups engaged in armed resistance in solidarity with (or as part of) the Palestinian struggle, including the Iraqi Resistance, Hezbollah, and Ansar Allah. There is no technical reason why any British journalist should be unable to do this. And yet…

This scrupulous ignorance largely extends even to pro-Palestinian journalists and outlets. Has Owen Jones ever drawn on Resistance News Network? Has Novara? Even Declassified, who have otherwise exposed important elements of the situation, such as the involvement of British planes in the genocide (via Cyprus), have ignored it. The dominant tendency on the British left has thus far been to focus on the figure of the Palestinian as perpetual victim, following a line of argument most powerfully articulated in Judith Butler’s Frames of War,4 which tends to stress the equal “grievability” of Palestinian life. In the third part of this series, I will emphasise the task of acknowledging that resistant capacity as part of Palestinian humanity. Even Electronic Intifada,5 despite far more clearly advocating the right of Palestinians to armed resistance, and resistance in the concrete rather than merely in the abstract, very rarely draws on the statements of the Resistance groups.

To pose the question of why journalists in Britain have assiduously ignored Resistance News Network as a potential source may seem naïve; in fact, it opens up a further set of important questions.

Framing the analysis

December 30th is not the only time the IOF has killed hostages since the beginning of Al-Aqsa Flood. Indeed, it continues to do so. On the very obvious level, this gives the lie to a central ideological justification for the genocidal attack on Gaza. We can see by its actions that ‘Israel’ is indifferent to the fate of the hostages, whose rescue is meant to justify the very actions that are killing them. As Hamas have asserted, “Netanyahu’s decision to invade Rafah means that he and his army made a decision to kill the prisoners”. Almost all the ‘Israeli’ hostages who have returned home returned not as a result of the actions of the IOF, but through negotiations and the brief truce in late November 2023. The one “successful” IOF mission to date—the Nuseirat massacre—saw 4 hostages retrieved. At least 274 Palestinians were killed. What should be clear is that there is a possibility of a negotiated settlement that brings the hostages home, but ‘Israel’ — and the USA, given its involvement in the massacre — prefer genocide. Indeed, they prefer genocide including at the possible cost of the lives of hostages: the DFLP have hinted that hostages may have been killed in the Nuseirat massacre, along with the many others killed by ‘Israel’, both on and since October 7th. What happened on December 30th, however, had distinctive elements, which further undermine official narratives.

The revelation, in mid-December, that ‘Israeli’ forces had killed three of their own citizens, who had escaped captivity in Gaza and were waving a white flag, was extensively discussed, and had political impacts within ‘Israel’. More critical voices pointed out that the IOF killing unarmed people in Gaza who were waving white flags was suggestive of extensive killings of surrendering Palestinians. This, of course, never registered within the official discourses. The important thing, implicitly, was not that the victims were waving a white flag, but that they were ‘Israeli’. Within ‘Israel’ and the imperial core there has been significantly less concern about the number of captives killed in the ‘normal course’ of ‘Israel’’s genocidal bombing of Gaza, whose impacts are intensified by the destruction of Palestinian medical infrastructure.

More recently, on May 7th, Hamas announced the death of the hostage Judith Weinstein, who died “due to severe injuries she sustained along with another prisoner after the bombing of their site of detention a month ago”. As with so many others who have died in Gaza, what killed Weinstein was not only the bombs but, as the statement noted, “the lack of intensive medical care…because of the enemy’s destruction of hospitals in the Gaza Strip”. On May 11th, the Al-Qassam Brigades announced the death of Nadav Popplewell, again killed following a bombing, but predominantly due to the impossibility of medical treatment for his injuries. Strikingly, Popplewell was a British citizen, yet it took until ‘Israel’ reported his death for it to be acknowledged in Britain, and by ‘Israel’s’ destruction of medical infrastructure – again, a destruction materially supported by Britain. Popplewell wouldn’t have died if ‘Israel’ wasn’t committed to genocide. Now, as ‘Israel’ uses famine as a—probably the—central weapon, it is possible that those hostages who have so far survived will starve. The conditions of the ‘Israeli’ hostages are the conditions of the ordinary Palestinian in Gaza. It is also worth emphasising here that the Resistance has every interest in keeping as many hostages alive as possible, whereas ‘Israel’, aside from pressure from the hostage families, has very little.

Hostages, moreover, were killed by ‘Israel’ on October 7th itself. This has been discussed not only on social media and in critical outlets but also in Haaretz. Haaretz has raised the question of whether this involved the ‘Hannibal Directive’, which makes the rescue of ‘Israeli’ soldiers, and perhaps civilians (there is an ambiguity here) an absolute priority, even if it is likely that the attempt will lead to their deaths. Other commentators have presented ‘Hannibal’ as something much stronger; a protocol which, when invoked, “prefer[s] that the soldier be killed than taken alive.”

The December 30th incident is distinct from these cases. It features another hostage killed by a bomb. However, the December 30th death not occur in the ‘normal course’ of the genocide, but with at least some degree of targeting and intentionality. Following the Martyr Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades’ description, what happened seems to have been a mixture of arrogance, carelessness and the indifference to killing the captive that even the ‘softer’ version of the Hannibal Directive entails. Within a context of possible further exchanges, and the high value put on an ‘Israeli’ soldier within those negotiations, there is a clear motivation, from the perspective of the ‘Israeli’ state, for the logic of “better killed than taken alive”. This renders futile any hopes that any more than a handful of the hostages may be rescued by military means. Even if a version of ‘Hannibal’ is not operative, the Resistance are competent fighters. Rescuing a hostage, even once they have been located, is difficult and dangerous. This seems worth reporting on.

There is another unacknowledged aspect of this episode: the involvement of the Martyr Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, both in the initial phase of Al-Aqsa Flood, and in the holding of captives. A general framing of the situation as “the Israel-Hamas war” has had a set of ideological effects. Occasionally, particularly as a logistical question around prisoner exchanges, the role of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) has been acknowledged, but the involvement of a broad range of Resistance groups with a wide range of political positions has been almost entirely ignored, and those few times it has been acknowledged, the discursive impact has been contained, this tells us a great deal about the processes of ideological structuring.6 This has clear legal effects, given that Hamas and PIJ are proscribed by the British Government, while other Resistance groups are not. To fully equate the Resistance with Hamas (or Hamas and PIJ) presents the possibility of rendering any support for the Palestinian Resistance criminal (despite the right to resist being enshrined in international law), as it can be presented as support for a proscribed group. Prosecutions and convictions rest on this equation, and on the assumption that the ‘reasonable’ person is wildly uninformed. A stronger public grasp of the situation would dramatically undermine this.

The effects of this conflation can be seen in the peculiar features of the judgement in the case of the three people convicted but conditionally discharged for wearing paraglider stickers. On the one hand, the three were convicted under the Terrorism Act for “arous[ing] reasonable suspicion that they were supporters of a banned organisation”. On the other, the judge acknowledged that “there’s no evidence that any of these defendants are supporters of Hamas, or were seeking to show support for them.” Indeed, it subsequently emerged that one of the convicted was a refugee from Gaza, who feared for her safety due to her family members’ criticisms of Hamas. The necessary, legally-posited ‘reasonable person’ is presumed to equate the Palestinian Resistance in its entirety with Hamas—and the ideological effects of inculcated public ignorance determine what is ‘reasonable’—but the judge implicitly admits that the defendants could have been supporting the Resistance without supporting Hamas. In this light, one might wonder what role the insistence by certain ‘left media’ figures that the defendants’ “childish indecency” was “the opposite of expressing solidarity with Palestinians” have to play in in constituting what is presumed ‘reasonable’. I have argued before, in the case of Just Stop Oil, that this sort of behaviour is equivalent to scabbing, contributing, as Hall and his Policing the Crisis co-authors conceptualised it, to a “stiffening of judicial attitudes towards crime, violence and sentencing policies”. This question has acquired new significance through Mohammed El-Kurd’s statement on Bastani’s behaviour, and the bad faith responses that have suggested El Kurd’s claim around Bastani’s “collaboration” was an accusation that he had directly contacted the police. It seems clear, though, that collaboration can also be ideological, can also involve this sort of decisive contribution to stiffening judicial attitudes.

As can be seen, even a brief consideration of December 30th uncovers much that is (or ought to be) worthy of investigation. With Iraq, we are presented with a serious democratic question, since it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that Britain was involved in the assassination of Al-Saedi. Ultimately, though, all we can offer are vague statements like “not beyond the bounds of possibility”—because nobody has bothered to investigate what actually happened. Regardless, British forces are definitely active in Iraq. Both the assassination and any involvement in US efforts against the Iraqi resistance dramatically exceeds anything which has been discussed, let alone agreed, by Parliament (what has been agreed was to fight ISIS, not to fight the enemies of ISIS). Moreover, the continuation of imperialist violence on Iraq, and the cheerful violation of its sovereignty (including a refusal to withdraw when asked), twenty years on from the beginning of the second war on Iraq, ought to be a concern, to say the very least. Again, you would think our intrepid journalists might consider this worthy of their attention.

Any British involvement in US efforts against the Iraqi resistance dramatically exceeds anything which has been discussed, let alone agreed, by Parliament.

Ignoring both US and probable British action against Palestine solidarity in Iraq, moreover, gives a false picture of the extent of regional resistance and solidarity with Palestine, and obscures the wider anti-imperialist questions involved, which extend far beyond some notional “Israel-Hamas War”. Any discussion of regional solidarity has been limited to Yemen and the actions against shipping in the Red Sea, and to Hezbollah – with the extent of Hezbollah’s actions and their effects considerably understated. The conflict is already regional because the Arab world is traversed by and determined by US imperialism (and the struggle against it) – this is as true today as it was in 1969, when the PFLP’s Strategy for the Liberation of Palestine emphasised both world imperialism across the Arab world and the “organic unity” of world imperialism and ‘Israel’ as the enemy of Palestinian struggle. Given this, one would note the absolute gall of Anthony Blinken attacking Ansar Allah for “expand[ing]” the conflict.

Though the extent of Resistance attacks in Iraq and Syria is sometimes acknowledged (if only in passing) by the British media, ignoring the statements of Resistance groups, and with that the reality encompassed in them, obfuscates the situation. The frame of analysis is “Iranian proxies”, rather than groups acting in solidarity with Palestine against the organic unity of world imperialism under US hegemony and ‘Israel’. What is ignored is any wider context, including the presence of extensive US military bases in Syria and Iraq, which is taken so much for granted that the insult to national sovereignty does not even register. Once that disappears, so too does the basis for the Iraqi and Syrian resistance to those violations of sovereignty, as well as the development of pan-Arabist, Islamic and anti-imperialist political-strategic conceptions by Resistance movements across the Arab world, within which solidarity with Palestine plays a central role. Absent all this, we end up with a narrative that suggests US troops in Syria and Iraq were just there, simply minding their own business, until they were inexplicably attacked. The explanatory frame for this is almost entirely the malignancy of Iran, with great stress on their supply of weapons as the singular cause, rather than one action within a whole web of struggles and contradictions.

This form then justifies further violation of Iraqi and Syrian sovereignty in the name of attacking “Iran-backed targets”, which includes elements of the official Iraqi armed forces (the Popular Mobilisation Forces). These attacks, moreover, are, at the very least, being taken advantage of by ISIS, who are simultaneously targeting the Popular Mobilisation Forces and other anti-ISIS forces. Whether one agrees or not with the Islamic Resistance in Iraq that ISIS is the “creation” of the US, or with the Syrian Ministry of Defence that US forces are directly and consciously “involved and allied with this organisation”, it ought to be clear that the US, alongside Britain, is effectively a “sponsor” of ISIS at this point. The question of whether it is actively co-ordinating action with ISIS is irrelevant when ISIS is taking such advantage, and in such a predictable way, of US violations of Iraqi and Syrian sovereignty.

Since the April 1st ‘Israeli’ attack on the Iranian consulate in Damascus, the question of Iran and the wider region has, at least, become more acknowledged as significant. Moreover, there have been contestations around not only interpretations, but around what counts as a relevant fact. The operation of April 13th was described by the Revolutionary Guards as a “large-scale military operation against targets inside the occupied territories” undertaken “in response to the numerous crimes of the zionist regime, including the attack on the consular section of the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Damascus.” The operation was welcomed by the Resistance groups, with Hamas stressing that it was part of “the natural right of countries and peoples of the region to defend themselves in the face of zionist aggressions”, and linking it to Al-Aqsa Flood. The PFLP said that “the Iranian response to the zionist entity is a pivotal event that will establish new rules of engagement in the region”, and pointed out that “the rush of the American administration and its partners in Britain, France, Germany, and some of their Arab tails [i.e. Jordan]7 in the region to use all their defensive weapons to try to protect the zionist entity from the Iranian missiles and drones confirms the involvement of these parties in the zionist crimes in the region, especially in Gaza.” Within the British media, ignoring the attack on the Damascus embassy, let alone the other “numerous crimes”, allowed the operation to be presented as an act of unprovoked malice, caused by the inherent evil of the Islamic Republic. However, this deliberate obfuscation was not universally accepted, even within the most mainstream media. Notably, Kay Burley asked a flailing David Cameron how Britain would respond “if a hostile nation flattened one of our consulates”. Nevertheless, most reporting and political statements concerning the Iranian operation tended to ignore the attack to which the operation was responding.8

All of the above offers a fairly direct example of the ways in which an attempt (which, in this case, doesn’t seem to have been terribly successful) is made to produce ideological effects by excluding certain details from a causal train. Absent the proximal cause of the April 13th operation (the embassy attack), the intention is for people to attribute it to an irrational Iranian desire for violence, and particularly, violence against ‘Israel’. However, even if (as with Kay Burley) a pertinent fact is added to the chain of causation to show that ‘Israel’ ‘started it’, the explanatory framework remains limited, because there is no mention of the wider context. Once that context is considered, we are no longer dealing with a simple chain of causation, but a complicated situation structured by US imperialism. This becomes particularly significant in the attempts to analyse the (by no means entirely incorrect) idea that ‘Israel’, losing in Gaza, is attempting to spark a wider regional conflict that would, it is claimed, draw in the US on ‘Israel’s’ side. What this misses, of course, is that the US is already involved, both through its structuring hegemonic role in world imperialism, through its direct involvement from Iraq to Syria to Jordan to the Red Sea, and to its material support of ‘Israel’. The US is by no means a bystander here. This does not mean that ‘Israel’ is not aiming to spark a more intense regional conflict — and the desire to avoid giving a pretext for this is clear in Iran’s measured response — but such a conflict would not be a rupture from things as they are, but an intensification, a bringing-into-the-open of processes that had previously been obscured. Moreover, it is not clear that even greater US involvement would guarantee an ‘Israeli’ victory in Gaza.

In what follows, I will explore a range of statements that have circulated through Resistance News Network, and which have largely or entirely been ignored by the British press—even when, as we have seen, these statements concern matters that ought to be of importance to the British public. The analysis will be derived, as far as is possible, from the arguments and positions of the Resistance groups, and from Walid Daqqah, the PFLP militant and “great thinker and writer”, who was martyred in an ‘Israeli’ jail on April 7th. Palestinians do not only suffer. They resist, and in resisting they think. Maybe there can be suffering without thought, but there cannot be resistance. Equally, without resistance, there can be no political thought that is worth anything. Whilst, in Daqqah, this thought is the thought of a remarkable individual, the thought is, at its basis, collectively developed and collectively put to use.

Palestinians do not only suffer. They resist, and in resisting they think. Maybe there can be suffering without thought, but there cannot be resistance. Equally, without resistance, there can be no political thought that is worth anything.

The second piece in this series will ask why the so-called mainstream media ignores the statements of the Resistance groups, and suggest that this seemingly naïve question can tell us something significant about the functioning of contemporary ideology. Finally, part three will analyse the British left’s refusal to engage with these statements and the collective thought contained within them.

‘Israel’ is losing.

‘Israel’ is losing.9 It is committing genocide, yes, but it is losing. The ground invasion has been a disaster, in strategic terms: casualties incurred, failure to rescue hostages or to diminish the Palestinian Resistance, and the IOF’s clear inability to control Gaza. All it has left is destruction. The horrors ‘Israel’ has inflicted are only explicable once this background of defeat is understood. Fundamentally, genocide is the result of the fact ‘Israel’ is losing.

‘Israel’ is losing and the Resistance is winning. Crucially this means that ‘Israel’ cannot control Gaza, and cannot significantly degrade the capacity of the Resistance to act. This does not mean, however, that ‘Israel’ lacks the military and technological capability to hold particular places for enough time to commit genocidal acts, or that the Resistance has the capacity to prevent it from happening. The mass graves in Al-Shifa Hospital and Nasser Hospital testify to this. It also, demonstrably, does not mean ‘Israel’ is unable to displace hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.

This genocide is a response to the continued capacities of the Palestinian people to resist; indeed, to the continued existence of Palestinians as a people. This element needs to be understood in the context of the Walid Daqqah argument (from his 2010 essay ‘Consciousness Moulded or the Re-identification of Torture’) that forms the epigraph to this piece. Daqqah’s martyrdom in an ‘Israeli’ prison was extensively marked by the Resistance groups, not only the PFLP, but also Hamas, PIJ, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) and the Al-Aqsa Martyr Brigades: Youth of Revenge and Liberation, but his work remains barely published in English,10 despite its astonishing mixture of the literary — it is moving and psychologically acute — and theoretical innovation and rigour. It is also, of course, steadfast and politically militant, but these are not virtues that the publishing of the imperial core even pretends to recognise as desirable. In Daqqah’s argument, the ‘Israeli’ target is always the Palestinian community and its capacity to resist and prevent a settlement being enforced on them, even if elements of the leadership or “negotiators” want it. The last nine months have shown that the fact the Palestinian people are the problem for ‘Israel’ means genocide was (and is) always a possible part of its repertoire.

In 1971, Ghassan Kanafani argued in the NLR that the PFLP’s campaign of hijackings had shown that the Palestinian people were not “paralysed”, not merely “heroic” in their bearing of an intolerable situation. The Resistance had shown the Palestinian people to exist as a decisive factor in the situation, rendering it impossible for ‘Israel’, Britain, the US, or the various reactionary Arab states “to dictate to our people”. What we see today is a similar (or greater) resistant capacity against paralysis, and against being dictated to. To deny the successes of the Resistance aims to make it seem as if dictating is possible. It aims to undermine Palestinian morale and the morale of those who are with Palestine, particularly in the imperial core.

Central to Daqqah’s argument was the observation that ‘Israel’ aimed at “politicide”: “degradation without annihilation”, particularly in the shattering of collective values and a capacity to resist.11 Al-Aqsa Flood—both the events of October 7th, and the subsequent inability of ‘Israel’ to subdue the Resistance—shows the failure of “politicide”. The Palestinian people exist as a political factor, as a people, with collective values. They cannot, as Kanafani argued, be “dictated to” by imperialism. The existence of resistance has been proved in practice. What is left when degradation has not worked? Annihilation, genocide. The physical destruction of a people, when its political incapacitation has been demonstrated to be impossible.

Al-Aqsa Flood shows the failure of politicide. The Palestinian people exist as a political factor, as a people, with collective values. They cannot, as Kanafani argued, be “dictated to” by imperialism.

Throughout ‘Consciousness Moulded…’, Daqqah develops a particular notion of “shock” or “shattering” as the basis for the politicidal remoulding of consciousness. This shock is attempted by a diverse set of practices, that “appear…chaotic, confused and contradictory”, but which, as an ensemble, aim at politicide.12 Moreover, for Daqqah (who spent the last 38 years of his life in ‘Israeli’ detention), these are the techniques of prison, including a “postmodern” form of torture, whereby “the target is no longer the body of the prisoner, the torture is no longer material; it is the spirit, the mind, which is disfigured.”13 The prison is the privileged site for these techniques, but they extend far beyond it, across Palestine. What we are witnessing now results from the failure of consciousness moulding or politicide: a return to the primacy (for they never disappeared entirely) of practices that do target the body, that do aim at annihilation.

“Consciousness Moulded…”, alongside the other work collected in the Pluto collection Threat: Palestinian Political Prisoners in Israel, helps establish the absolute centrality of the prisoner question, not only for the Resistance, but for Palestinian society more broadly. At the heart of Daqqah’s Foucauldian analysis is the notion of the smaller and bigger prison:

if the segregated areas Israel demarcated for Palestinians in the occupied territories are akin to bigger prisons, and its practices towards Palestinians in the smaller prisons are a continuation of its policy in the larger ones, then it is useful to first apply theoretical tools to study the smaller prisons.

Note the plural here, particularly when it comes to the bigger prisons of the occupied territories: the space is fragmented and disunified by ‘Israeli’ techniques, and is unified by Palestinian resistance. The continuity of the two spaces, with the smaller an intensification and a simplification of conditions in the bigger, renders both more legible for analysis. It also presents a similar continuity of prisoner resistance with resistance in the bigger prisons. As Daqqah puts it, the prisoners are one of the “central forces” representing Palestinian collective values. Their experience is an intensification of the Palestinian experience. They are “the front line of the struggle”.14

The priority of the prisoner question has played a determining role in Al-Aqsa Flood, with one major aim being the capturing of hostages in order, through exchanges, to secure the release of prisoners—including the terminally ill Daqqah. Al-Aqsa Flood, moreover, was in its very form the self-liberation of prisoners from the “open air prison“ (David Cameron, 2010), or indeed, open air concentration camp, of Gaza. It was perhaps the greatest prison break in history.

The prisoner question has acquired even more intensity since October 7th, not least due to the shifts in the ‘Israeli’ regime away from the postmodern torture described by Daqqah towards the all too material targeting of the body. Both Resistance News itself, and, of course, the Prisoners channel, including Daqqah himself, within ‘Israel’ since October 7th.

Many more prisoners will die in ‘Israel’s’ jails. Daqqah was denied necessary treatment by ‘Israel’, which at the very least hastened his death. The medical torture of prisoners has long been a significant issue for the Resistance groups, and to the sixteen who have been martyred in the ‘Israeli’ jails, it is necessary to add those, like Farouq Al-Khatib martyred as a result of medical torture. On May 13th, the Prisoners channel published a letter from the dying Mustasim Raddad. “The only word I receive from the jailers,” he wrote, “is, ‘You are dead, dead here.’ Our suffering as sick prisoners in the prisons is unimaginable. We die daily, confined in cells, besieged by hunger, thirst, oppression, abuse, torture, and deprived of the minimum standards of healthcare.” This martyrdom operates in tandem with the martyrdom through field executions15 of those captured in Gaza. Palestinians captured in Gaza have also faced torture and martyrdom in ‘Israeli’ military jails, including but not limited to Sde Teman.16

CNN has recently published an expose of Sde Teman based on the testimony of ‘Israeli’ whistleblowers. On the one hand, this work is useful, provided it is not treated as an aberration. On the other, the epistemological questions are revealing. In order for the ‘truth’ of the horror of Sde Teman to be verified, ‘Israeli’ whistleblowers are required. The publicly available statements of Palestinian prisoner groups are considered insufficient, not only to verify the truth of what has happened, but even to initiate any sort of journalistic investigation into what might have happened. Indeed, attention to RNN could have led to a much earlier ‘scoop’, but the structuring logic of journalism prevents that.

The shift away from postmodern torture towards direct attacks on the bodies of the prisoners is part of the wider ‘Israeli’ shift from attempted (but failed) politicide to genocide, from degradation to annihilation. There is, therefore, perhaps a split in ‘Israel’, and in imperialism more broadly. The right want genocide for the sake of genocide, or for the sake of revenge. The ‘left’ of imperialism want genocide too, not as an end in itself, but as a means to an end, a means to politicide when the previous practices of shock or shattering have, because of the capacity of the Palestinian people to resist, failed to work. Crucially, the Resistance groups, especially the PFLP, insist that these splits within imperialism are merely disagreements over tactics:

the current American administration and successive administrations are principal partners in the aggression against our people throughout the history of their liberation struggle. What appears to be disputes between the American administration and the zionist entity is fundamentally a tactical disagreement in means, not a strategic one in objectives.

What Al-Aqsa Flood seems to have demonstrated to ‘Israel’ is that a far greater shock is required if they are to achieve their goals. The aim, therefore, is a genocidal shock so terrible that the Palestinian people no longer exist as a political factor.

However, this shock has not been inflicted yet. This can be seen, firstly, in the question of the number of ‘Israeli’ military casualties, a number that is quite clearly suppressed. The other side of this, of course, is that the Resistance groups—including but not only Hamas—retain a significant capacity to fight. ‘Israel’ most recently reports 319 IOF deaths in Gaza This is far, far lower than what is reported by the Resistance groups. It is difficult to get a complete figure, because what one encounters is a stream of reports from various groups detailing ambushes and other successful attacks, pretty much daily, with, in most cases, a few IOF soldiers killed. Impressionistically, the statements on Resistance News suggest that the National Resistance Brigades alone (perhaps the sixth, seventh or eighth largest armed group) have inflicted dozens and dozens and perhaps over a hundred deaths.

One may be sceptical of the figures for IOF deaths provided by the Resistance groups. If there is an ideological dimension to claiming successes, then they have an interest in overstating. Sometimes, in an absolutely desperate situation, it could be the case that the effect on morale of telling lies and claiming easy victories is worth it. (Were the PFLP hijackings, in some ways, an example of this – and with positive ideological effects?) It is in ‘Israel’’s interest to understate the number of IOF deaths; it is in the Resistance’s to overstate. However, there are good reasons to trust the Resistance more, beyond partiality—and I am, of course, partial on this.

It is striking that when ‘Israel’ has to admit to suffering casualties, they often prefer to attribute these to the IOF’s ineptitude rather than the military skill of the Resistance, whether this is in friendly fire casualties or Looney Tunes-esque accidents. From “the most moral army in the world” to the most clownish. I think it’s necessary to be fairly sceptical of this refusal to credit the Resistance, but it does seem likely that friendly fire casualties are relatively high, and this suggests an occupation force that is not only trigger happy but panicked. This level of panic is not compatible with the level of reported IOF casualties. The same kind of panic would be true when it comes to the killings of the escaped captives who were waving white flags. Moreover, a far higher rate of military casualties would be more compatible than the reported rate with the Givati Brigade commander who died of a heart attack, horrified by the number of deaths of soldiers under his command. As the PFLP put it, this “reflects the reality in the Gaza Strip and what the occupation soldiers are subjected to.” The point, ultimately—and it is one that is consistently effaced by both hack and critical journalists—is that the attack on Gaza is going badly from ‘Israel’’s perspective. Grasping this makes aspects of the situation, including those mentioned above, far more intelligible.

The aim of ‘Israel’ is to make genocide matter against the national liberation struggle by ravaging, slaughtering, usurping, by making a desert in an attempt to force a peace without justice. Famine is now the central weapon.

If ‘Israel’ is losing while practicing genocide, then genocide and the Palestinian national liberation struggle are distinct, representing two processes that, while not precisely parallel, have no necessary relation. Indeed, it might be said that the aim of ‘Israel’ is to make genocide matter against the national liberation struggle, to bring the two processes together, by ravaging, slaughtering, usurping, by making a desert in an attempt to force a peace without justice. Famine is now the central weapon not only in the genocide itself, but in the attempt to have genocide deliver political-military consequences where conventional warfare has failed. Hamas have noted that the ‘Israeli’ assault on the Rafah crossing has the explicit intent of deepening the famine. Similarly, the National Emergency Committee in Rafah has stated that “the closure and occupation of crossings and the control over them portends the death of hundreds of thousands of citizens due to the cutting off of supply lines and lifelines to the Gaza Strip.” The Palestinian Resistance’s capacity to stop genocide is very low. It has almost no air defences – PIJ, in particular, seem to have developed a degree of proficiency in shooting down drones, including quadrocopters, but that is it. The Resistance cannot open the crossings, or cause aid to be delivered. It can, through guerrilla attacks, defend territory and harass the IOF, both of which can restrict an element of genocidal capacity. In short, though the Resistance has the capacity to prevent the total control of all of Gaza, ‘Israel’ has the capacity to control parts of its territory for a time. What the Resistance can do is to inhibit the desired connection between genocide and ‘Israel’s’ hoped-for political-military consequences. This offers a sliver of hope: if the Resistance can continue to interrupt to smooth operations of the genocide machine, might ‘Israel’ come to realise it cannot hope to win? Might it be possible for the resistance to put an end to the genocide, not through capitulation, as ‘Israel’ hopes, but through steadfastness? This would have meaningful political consequences for the Palestinian people. Meanwhile, the example offered by the Palestinian struggle continues to inspire solidarity, including from Yemen and the people of Jordan, that exerts material pressure on ‘Israel’.

‘Israel’ is not only losing in Gaza

If ‘Israel’ has been almost entirely incapable of imposing its will upon the people of Gaza, it has been similarly ineffective on the northern front, where Hezbollah have been conducting solidarity attacks from southern Lebanon. In Britain and the US, this has been consistently ignored as an aspect of the situation; within ‘Israel’, it has been acknowledged, but downplayed. ‘Israel’ has been forced reluctantly to acknowledge that 81,000 people have been displaced as a result of Hezbollah’s actions; Hezbollah claims the numbers are closer to 230,000. Even if we accept the lower figure, this is the equivalent of about 600,000 people being displaced within Britain. On May 20th, Resistance News reported on “the opening of the first ‘Israeli’ refugee camp” to accommodate the numbers of the displaced. In January, Al-Mayadeen, drawing on ‘Israeli’ news sources, reported that this displacement was having extensive economic impacts, particularly in the agricultural sector, where unharvested crops were left to rot in the ground, at an estimated cost of round $131 million dollars. Little of this has been mentioned in Britain or the US.

Back in February, Hezbollah published a summary of its operations, in which it claimed to have killed or wounded over 2,000 ‘Israelis’, and to have destroyed a great deal of materiel, from military factories to border walls, from to bunkers to radars. Though they are yet to publish an updated summary, regular individual statements illustrate the continuing losses Hezbollah are inflicting upon ‘Israel’. On May 11th, they announced a series of direct hits on a number of newly-installed Iron Dome platforms at the Beit Hillel military base, with some platforms “completely disabled”.

Indeed, so effective have Hezbollah’s solidarity operations been that—according to a Resistance News analysis of an article in Haaretz—“the de facto border of the temporary entity” has been shifted south by at least 15 kilometres. “The Lebanese resistance,” the analysis continues, “has turned the northern settlements into ghost towns due to their uninterrupted targeting since October 8th.” And again, none of this has been reported in British and US media.

Western journalists are so committed to ignoring the claims of the Resistance that they are willing to pass over opportunities for stories that combine what is without doubt the defining issue of our time with other, more voguish journalistic concerns, such as surveillance and new technologies. A curious journalist would not even need to accept such claims at face value in order to do so. Presumably a newspaper of any size could easily verify them, or show them to be untrue.

For example: in late December, Hezbollah issued a statement urging those in the “front villages” of southern Lebanon to “disconnect the private cameras in front of their homes, shops and institutions” because of ‘Israeli’ “hacking… to benefit from the visual material they provide… to target the fighting brothers in resistance.” ‘Israel’ was driven to this, per the statement, owing to Hezbollah’s successful targeting of “most of the surveillance cameras and military gathering equipment of the Israeli enemy.” In addition to the obvious military significance, the ability for the Resistance to target border walls and surveillance technology is also, potentially, a major blow to ‘Israel’’s’ ability to sell its surveillance technology globally. Antony Loewenstein argues that

Israel has developed a world-class weapons industry with equipment conveniently tested on occupied Palestinians, then marketed as “battle-tested”. Cashing in on the IDF brand has successfully led to Israeli security companies being some of the most successful in the world. The Palestine laboratory is a signature Israeli selling point.17

We hear a lot, even in critical outlets, about the successful application of repressive ‘Israeli’ technologies. But what happens when surveillance and border technology is battle-tested (and proven inadequate) by Hezbollah, by Palestinians in paragliders, and by the Resistance groups’ defeat of the IOF? Can ‘Israel’ continue to cash in on the IOF brand? These seem questions worth investigating. And yet, again, the entire subject has been comprehensively ignored.

This is an anti-imperialist struggle, traversing not only all of Palestine, but the entire Arab nation.

If framing Al-Aqsa Flood and the genocide of Palestinians as “the Israel-Hamas war” limits our understanding of the actors, with particular ideological effects, it also obscures the spatiality of the situation. What’s at stake is both the physical space of struggle, and how that space is understood—morally, politically and strategically. This encompasses Iraq and Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and of course the West Bank; but it also draws attention to the role of the various Arab regimes (Jordan, Saudi, Bahrain…), their lack of solidarity with Palestine and their effective support of ‘Israel’, slotting neatly into world imperialism under the hegemony of the US. A proper understanding of the spatiality of the situation, as we have already seen with Iraq and Syria, also undercuts various hack arguments about malign influences (usually Iran) interfering in a situation which is not their own, and which should be contained to Gaza, and to ‘Israel’’s US-backed monopoly of legitimate force in Gaza (US interference, is different, somehow).

The situation has always exceeded that view.

From its beginnings on October 7th, Al-Aqsa Flood was conceived as initiating a new phase in a struggle that encompassed the entirety of the Arab nation. Mohammed Deif, Commander of the Al-Qassam Brigades, declared: “Oh, our brothers in the Islamic resistance in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, today is the day when your resistance merges with the resistance of your brothers in Palestine. It is time for the Arab resistance to unite.” It is important to note here that, apart from in Lebanon, the resistance struggles mentioned by Deif were predominantly struggles against the US—and, to an extent, Saudi Arabia—rather than ‘Israel’. Of course, the structural links between the US and ‘Israel’ have always been present in a system of world imperialism under US hegemony. Likewise, Saudi’s keenness to act as a proxy for British and US interests in the region, as well as its moves towards ‘normalising’ relations with ‘Israel’, are not new developments. But it took Al-Aqsa Flood, and the Resistance in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen answering its call, to make this mean something politically. On October 14th, the Popular Mobilisation Forces, promised to “carry out all our duties towards the Palestinians, whether at the level of aid or at the military level.” They also asserted that “what the resistance is doing is a response to the crimes of the occupation, and America is an essential partner of that occupation”, grounding the necessity of intensified resistance to the US in Iraq as an act of solidarity with Palestine. Deif also called for “mobilisation towards Palestine” from “our brothers in Algeria, Morocco, Jordan, Egypt, and the rest of the Arab countries.” Iraqi actions in solidarity with Palestine have targeted both US forces and targets within ‘Israel’, particularly the port of Eilat, most recently on July 9th.

This merging of the Resistance, from Palestine to Iraq and Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen, has been a crucial effect of Al-Aqsa Flood, and merits far greater attention, particularly with regard to the Resistance in Iraq and Syria and the struggle against the US, which has almost totally passed by the media of the imperial core. Al-Aqsa Flood has also awakened other parts of the Arab nation, from Morocco to Bahrain—whose Islamic Resistance have recently hit the ‘Israeli’ port of Eilat—to Jordan, described by the Al-Qassam Brigades as “the most important Arab Front.” From late March to late April, Jordan saw substantial daily protests in solidarity with Palestine,18 with pan-Arabist and anti-normalisation slogans (“And we’ll uproot normalisation and the zionist project from every inch of our Arab land”) featuring alongside slogans in support of PIJ and, more often, Hamas. These protests led to considerable instability, and faced major repression. Indeed, the level of repression demonstrates the structural importance for the regime, given its regional role in world imperialism, of complicity with ‘Israel’. Popular pressure has led to the release of at least some, but by no means all, of those imprisoned during the crackdowns.

The rejection of normalisation has crystallised in opposition to the Wadi Araba treaty, especially its clauses forbidding Jordan from stopping exports to ‘Israel’. The necessity of opposition to the treaty, and these clauses in particular, has been stressed by the PFLP, as well as some Arab analysts. Ahmed Alqarout, reporting for Mondoweiss, noted in February that “Jordan has a critical mass of Palestinian citizens, and yet it is the only country through which such a [trade] corridor can feasibly pass”, and, as such, “pro-Palestine activists in Jordan should… focus their efforts on severing Jordan’s longstanding trade agreement with Israel” as a means of exerting popular pressure on both the Jordanian regime and the ‘Israeli’ war machine. By May 4th, he was referring to “the land blockade in Jordan”, as well as a “regional pivot away from Israel”.

Land Day saw a joint statement from various socialist and communist groups and parties from across the Arab nation (including the PFLP and DFLP, as well as Morocco’s Democratic Working Path Party and various Jordanian parties), condemning the repression of popular protests and movements in Morocco, Jordan, Egypt, and Bahrain. Significantly, the statement was also signed by CODESA: the Sahrawi Association of Human Rights Defenders; the PFLP have long expressed solidarity with Sahrawi struggle against “the treasonous monarchic regime in Morocco”. In many ways, Morocco and Jordan face a shared political and geopolitical reality: two “monarchic regimes” for whom the integration of the country into imperialism, including support for ‘Israel’, is reliant on the insulation of the regime from the popular masses.

Al-Aqsa Flood has reconfigured the politics of the Arab nation. By interpellating the Arab popular masses as subjects of a common struggle, it has made solidarity with Palestine a political factor that the various regimes cannot discount. Normalisation has received a significant, perhaps fatal, blow. This was clearly one of the motivations behind Al-Aqsa Flood—however much the hack discourse of the imperial core might seek to deny the political rationality of Hamas, and the Palestinian Resistance more broadly.

To be free and not bargain is to resist politicide. Bargaining with the oppressor not only acknowledges their power, but involves calculating, selfish, anti-collective values. We have all made our accommodations, our bargains with oppressive power.

Their wager was that, even in anti-democratic regimes, the awakening of the popular masses can have impacts. In this, they have been proven correct. And this awakening entails not only a critique of the various regimes’ corruption, but also a self-critique of the popular masses’ previous acceptance of this. The moral and practical reproach of the Palestinian peoples’ resistance and steadfastness is proving transformative. A key Jordanian slogan has been “Gaza is free and does not bargain”. To be free and not bargain is to resist politicide. Bargaining with the oppressor not only acknowledges their power, but involves calculating, selfish, anti-collective values.19 On the terms of Daqqah’s argument, the slogan affirms the capacity of the Palestinian people to frustrate the grubby concessions made by negotiators. It ought to remind us that we have all made our accommodations, our bargains with oppressive power.

Yemen! Yemen! Make us proud! Turn another ship around!

According to Khalil Nasrallah, reporting for the Cradle, the US has made “an astounding set of private… promises” to Ansar Allah “behind closed doors”—to include the lifting of economic sanctions and blockades, the withdrawal of foreign military forces, a prisoner exchange deal, and the removal of the group from the US State Department’s ‘Specially Designated Global Terrorist’ list—in return for the cessation of operations in the Red Sea. The US position seems to amount, in Nasrallah’s words to: “Stop your Gaza support, and we will give you everything.” This is a striking demonstration of Yemen’s power; but still more striking is that the US will not give up on the one thing that, explicitly, could make all of this go away: the blockade of, and infliction of famine on, Gaza.

There is huge popular support within Yemen for Ansar Allah’s actions, and for Palestine solidarity more widely, with regular mobilisations of well over a million people. Ansar Allah’s own hegemony is secured to a significant degree through its capacity to deliver pro-Palestinian consequences; these actions are not an imposition on and against the Yemeni people, but in direct accordance with their will. At the most ridiculous point of denial, Keir Starmer has rejected what he calls “claims” that Ansar Allah’s actions are “somehow linked to the conflict in Gaza”, when this they have stated, explicitly and repeatedly, that Gaza is the only reason that they’re doing it. The absurdity of this should be evident even to those who are not connoisseurs of Resistance News Network, but then again, the sheer scale of the support for Palestine among the people of Yemen is completely obscured from Western audiences. If Ansar Allah are to remain politically relevant, they have no choice but to respond. But, as with Hamas, the idea that there is any rationality to Ansar Allah is largely refused in the media discourses. This, of course, bears on the ways in which politicians in the imperial core respond to Ansar Allah’s actions: if there is a rationality to them—if they are not turning ships around merely for a laugh, or as an emanation of some set of backward beliefs that are utterly unintelligible to ‘the civilised’, or because Iran told them to—then surely they can (and should) be negotiated with. This is the reality that the West is desperate to avoid.

A telling symptom of this avoidance can be found in an interview with their spokesperson, Abdelmalek al-Ejri, conducted by Robert F Worth for the Atlantic As well as repeating the demonstrably false line that Yemeni operations in the Red Sea are only “ostensibly in defence of Palestine” and “may not have done much for Gaza”, the interview drips with orientalist condescension. Worth is shocked at al-Ejri’s punctuality and his appearance: so much so that his reflections take on a bizarre tone, like a racist fever dream:

I was a little surprised by his appearance; I had half expected to see a swaggering tribesman of the kind I used to meet in Yemen—mouth bulging with khat leaves, a shawl over his shoulders and a curved dagger in his belt. Instead, [al-Ejri] was a neat-looking fellow in a blue-tartan blazer and a button-down shirt.20

Like any political group, Ansar Allah have goals, and they act to achieve them—this should, in theory, allow for discussion. By denying their rationality, and therefore precluding any possibility of negotiation, the politicians and press of the imperial core seek to obscure that Ansar Allah have one very clear primary goal, which imperialism will not negotiate on: ending the blockade and famine in Gaza.

Ansar Allah are finding ways to exert leverage in support of Palestine, against genocide, when almost nobody else is. After the discovery of mass graves at Nasser medical complex, they responded by escalating attacks on shipping. Isn’t this the only plausible moral response to the discovery of mass graves under a hospital?21 If one is against genocide, how could one be against this? This is why, at almost every London demonstration in support of Palestine, we chant Yemen! Yemen! Make us proud! Turn another ship around!.

The media’s commitment to ignoring Resistance News Network also obscures just how badly the British and US action against Yemen is going—even when the US President himself openly admits it (“Are they stopping the Houthis? No. Are they gonna continue? Yes.”). After the first day of attacks on Yemen, there has been little coverage of US and British bombings, but these are ongoing. From late January to mid-March, Resistance News Network featured daily reports of attacks by “American-British warplanes”.22 From late March, numbers dropped to about two attacks a week, but over the last six weeks, it appears that the number of attacks has started to increase again. On May 31st, American-British strikes martyred 16 in Hodeidah. A statement issued by the PFLP said this massacre shows

that the United States leads an aggressive colonial alliance against the Arab peoples, deluded in thinking it can impose its hegemony on the region unchallenged, affirming that the resistance forces and their allies stand at the forefront defending their peoples, nation, and just causes.

However, for all the regularity of these strikes, Ansar Allah continue to effectively target ships bound for ‘Israel’, as well as British and US ships. For British news and social media to report on this would not even require them to pay attention to Resistance News Network. All of it is covered by the incident reports of the official British state agency, ‘United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations’. It is particularly ironic that Resistance News Network regularly broadcasts UKMTO reports (most recently an attack on a ship on July 9th), and not long prior to that the sinking of the Tutor ship, but the British media never does.

The Palestinian Resistance is more than just Hamas.

It should already be clear that “the Israel-Hamas” war is a spatially and politically untenable designation. There are, as we have seen, various Resistance groups participating in Al-Aqsa Flood. On October 28th, leading figures in Hamas, PIJ, the PFLP, the DFLP, and the PFLP-General Command convened in Beirut, later issuing a statement which affirmed that

Adhering to national unity is a main pillar in confronting the zionist war of genocide against our people, as well as rejecting the enemy’s attempts to divide our people or monopolise any part of it. We stress unifying efforts and closing ranks in this fateful battle.

December 28th saw a similar meeting, also in Beirut, in which (per a joint statement issued after the meeting):

The attendees agreed on the need to confront the consequences of the barbaric war on our people with a unified strategic and combative struggle, reintroducing our cause as a national liberation cause for a people under occupation.

What is clear from these statements is that, on a classical—that is, Leninist23—understandings of hegemony, there is a broad and pluralist Resistance bloc, within which there are significant differences, but also a sufficient community of interest in the national liberation struggle to allow for a coherence. Coherence, moreover, in the classical theory, requires hegemonic leadership—a group with the capacity to advance the shared interests of potentially divergent elements. The Resistance bloc is cohered under and through the hegemony of Hamas.

This hegemony is not secured to any great degree by coercion, but by consent and participation in a shared struggle, and by Hamas’s capacity to lead it. A bloc of this sort does not leave any of its elements unchanged, and it is very clear to see that one effect of Hamas’s leadership of the bloc has been a marked shift in certain of its own positions and attitudes. Hamas’s 1988 charter, with its often noted antisemitism and religious particularism, offered a very poor basis for cohering a national liberation struggle. The charter had an essentially anti-collective and anti-national character; it opened no possibility for an alliance, even an alliance led by Hamas. Its basic conceptions, moreover, offered little guarantee against incorporation into the ‘Israeli’ apparatus. On the other hand, the left-nationalist conceptions of the PFLP—from the assessments of the enemies of Palestinian liberation and the centrality of the organic unity of world imperialism and ‘Israel’ found in 1969’s Strategy for the Liberation of Palestine, to its contemporary line treating the US as “fully complicit in the genocide” and emphasising that “the Al-Aqsa Flood battle revealed the retreat of the American project in the region”—not only offer a stronger analysis of the situation, but can bring together a wide set of groups in the “heroic epic” of the Palestinian people. These conceptions, moreover, can situate the national epic in a regional and even global context. This rigorously anti-imperialist orientation, which emphasises the structuring and enabling role of the US, has not been confined to the PFLP. It is also notable in many of the statements of PIJ. Andreas Malm has stressed this tendency in PIJ—especially in its 2018 political document, which conceptualises emphasises the “organic links” between “settler colonial” ‘Israel’ and “the forces of Western colonialism”. Hamas’s statements during Al-Aqsa Flood frequently condemn the US; to take one example among many, a 8th February statement which insisted that “the key to stability in the region is for the US administration to seek to stop the aggression on the Gaza Strip, lift the oppression from our Palestinian people”.

This is not to say Hamas’s shift has been cynical. They have chosen leadership of a national liberation struggle, and acted on a national liberation conception. In that choice, the antisemitic elements, which have regularly been used in an attempt to justify the genocide of the Palestinian people have necessarily been sidelined. It is important to note the total absence of antisemitic arguments from the Palestinian Resistance groups in their statements. In view of this, it would appear that one function of hacks in the US or Britain ignoring such statements is to shore up the pretexts for ‘Israel’’s actions—justifications that would collapse if any serious attention was paid to what the Resistance groups actually say.

Having grasped the character of the Resistance as a hegemonic bloc—something which requires acknowledgement that the Resistance is more than Hamas—it becomes possible to notice points of contradiction that are currently non-antagonistic, but which could potentially turn antagonistic. Surely an intellectually serious media would want to explore this? Indeed, an intellectually serious media that was opposed to the Resistance would likely have a strong interest in inflaming and exploiting the potential lines of fracture. It is clear from the statements of the Resistance groups that attempts are being made to fracture the unity of the bloc, especially around priorities in the ceasefire negotiations; it is equally clear that these have been unsuccessful. PIJ have recently asserted that “the occupation’s goal to cause discord among the resistance ranks has failed”. Likewise, the PFLP have stated that “the movements [Hamas, PIJ and the PFLP] are united politically… just as they are united militarily in the field.”

It should also be noted that Hamas’s capacity to secure consent from the Resistance is ultimately dependent on its capacity to deliver consequences, and that this may well have been a motivation for initiating Al-Aqsa Flood. The centrality of the prisoner question is significant here, firstly because the liberation of prisoners is a major priority for the Palestinian people; and secondly because, until relatively recently it was not as major a priority for Hamas as for some of the other Resistance groups. An understanding of hegemony can help us make sense of positions taken by Hamas which do not appear to be in its immediate interests. There has been, among the Resistance groups, a particular focus on certain prisoners who are also political leaders, notably Anwar Sa’adat and Marwan Barghouti, whose freeing would reconfigure Palestinian politics, especially against Abbas and the contemptible PA. Hamas, in particular, have emphasised the importance of liberating Barghouti, as well as prisoners from non-Hamas factions more generally. They have done this even though polling suggests Barghouti is the only person who could beat Ismail Haniyeh in Palestinian presidential elections. This is not necessarily a sign of Hamas’s benignity, still less of political naiveté. It is about how hegemony works. The securing of leadership through consent over the broad bloc requires that Hamas represent the Resistance and the Palestinian people as a whole, and are able to deliver political-military consequences for them.

That the Resistance is a bloc including various political groups under the hegemony of Hamas, and that hegemony does not leave Hamas untouched, also suggests one set of limits (among many) to the abject approaches of neo-‘decent left’ formations, such as ‘Left Renewal’, whose statement asserts that “most leftists in South West Asia and North Africa (SWANA) [are] confronted more directly with Islamism’s reactionary politics than leftists in other parts of the world… Leftists from outside SWANA should listen to them”. Are the (notably secular) PFLP not leftists? Are they outside (the awkward formulation) “SWANA”? But of course, ‘Left Renewal’ aren’t interested in listening to anybody, let alone Palestinian Marxists. Their interest is to insist upon the constant application, from above, of a model of the absolute primacy of class politics; the “renewal” they call for specifically requires what they call “a renewal of class politics”. What ‘Left Renewal’ are saying is that Palestinian Marxists are deficient in international solidarity by not prioritising the class struggle, or initiating a struggle against Hamas, while they are being subjected to a genocide. But if the Palestinian left prioritise national liberation over class struggle in the conjuncture, as they clearly do, should we not listen to them, rather than mechanically apply a class struggle as always and purely the primary contradiction model?24

Given the Trotskyist formation of many of those involved in ‘Left Renewal’, it may be useful to revisit the Old Man himself on this subject. In his biography of Stalin (which was attempting to complete at the time of his assassination in 1940), we find Trotsky in full agreement with Lenin’s 1915 analysis of the imperialist character of World War I. Trotsky came to this position later: in the article, Lenin describes him as one of the “helpless satellites of the social chauvinists”. In Stalin, having reflected on his position, Trotsky writes:

the struggle of the oppressed peoples for national unity and independence, on the one hand, it prepares favourable conditions of development for their own use, and on the other, it strikes a blow against imperialism. Hence, in part, the conclusion that in a war between a civilised imperialist democratic republic and the backward barbarian monarchy of a colonial country, the socialists will be entirely on the side of oppressed country, notwithstanding its monarchy, and the oppressor country, notwithstanding its ‘democracy’.25

The Palestinian Resistance are a long way from a “backward barbarian monarchy”, and ‘Israel’ is a long way from a “civilised imperialist democratic republic”, but even if we were to accept ‘Left Renewal’’s explicit characterisation of Hamas as barbarian (and indeed its reduction of the Resistance to Hamas), and its implicit characterisation of ‘Israel’ as civilised, the correct Leninist – and indeed Trotskyist position – should be clear.

These questions bear on the current debate between Malm and Matan Kaminer. In Kaminer’s account, Hamas (throughout his essay, Kaminer tends to reduce the Resistance to Hamas, obscuring the internal plurality of the Resistance bloc) are “counter-systemic but neither internationalist nor revolutionary.” But even if one accepts this characterisation, for the left in the imperial core, it is sufficient for a Resistance to be counter-systemic. We have no right to demand anything more. In the imperial core, the demands imposed upon us by internationalism are not demands which we have any right to impose upon Hamas, or any of the Palestinian Resistance. These are questions we must pose of ourselves. Are we—and this includes the left in ‘Israel’—internationalist enough to call for the “defeat of our own governments”? Are we internationalist enough to call for the defeat of imperialism by the “counter-systemic”? Can we be more than the “helpless satellites of the social chauvanists”?

Are we internationalist enough to call for the “defeat of our own governments”? Are we internationalist enough to call for the defeat of imperialism by the “counter-systemic”? Can we be more than the “helpless satellites of the social chauvanists”?

The debate between Kaminer and Malm takes place substantially on the terrain of ecology: Malm’s first essay is entitled ‘The Destruction of Palestine Is the Destruction of the Earth’, and Kaminer treats Hamas as an anti-ecological movement because of they are backed by “fossil fuel money from Qatar” and the assumed likelihood that a sovereign Hamas would “eagerly join their neighbours in the bonanza of unsustainable extraction.”26 On the one hand, this is little more than a puerile gotcha, a facile piece of “non-political ecology”. On the other, it is indicative of a colonial mindset — as Max Ajl puts it, “accusations of ecological mismanagement and extractivism soften up Western public opinion for the 21st century diplomacy and coup d’etats”27— and a profound commitment to the imperial mode of living. The Palestinians have a right to sovereign development (development for their own use). The question for the left in the imperial core is this: what is the ecological struggle against the main enemy at home, that does not, on Ajl’s terms, lock in underdevelopment?28

Malm’s conclusion — with which Kaminer takes issue — is that:

Limiting, stopping, reversing the destruction of Palestine and planet therefore require, as a logically unassailable condition, the destruction of fossil fuel infrastructure and racial colonies – not necessarily their physical destruction; but necessarily their decommissioning and repurposing, in the cases where that is possible, and where not, on the path to their abolition, yes, their physical destruction.

This is true, as far as it goes, but I want to suggest an “ecological-Leninist”29 extension of Malm’s argument. Following Jason W. Moore, we should assert that imperialism is a way of organising nature (that it is a “gangster operation in the web of life”). This conception goes beyond Malm’s limited model of finding articulations between supposedly separate terms — in the essays in question, between ‘the Earth’ and ‘Palestine’; in much of his other work, ‘ecology’ and ‘class struggle’. Once we move beyond Malm’s dualism, it becomes easier to see how a counter-systemic movement functions as an ecological movement, regardless of whether or not they might exploit fossil fuels in future. The alternative, as Raymond Williams argues of non-political ecology, offers us nothing more than simply “calling upon the leaders of the precise social orders which have created the devastation to reverse their own processes… to go against the precise interests, the precise social relationships, which have produced their leadership.” The Palestinian Resistance, by contrast, represent a direct attack on the social and international orders that have created the devastation. It must be supported as such.

The possibility of Hamas exploiting gas fields is not the only time Kaminer’s argument runs on evasive hypotheticals. He laments “the fact that the Palestinian resistance is not being led by a secular, democratic force such as the PFLP”. One response to this would be to note the influence of PFLP perspectives within the broad Resistance bloc (including on Hamas), and in providing an analytical frame that is, at the very least, far less useful to antisemitism than Hamas’s previous and now rejected perspectives. Another would be to note, that if one is willing to honour the PFLP by lamenting that they don’t lead the Resistance, one must also honour them enough to acknowledge that they accept the hegemony of Hamas, rather than making the basic error of collapsing a whole bloc into its hegemonic element. Ultimately, Kaminer’s position is little better than if my grandmother had wheels…30 The Palestinian Resistance is the Palestinian Resistance as it is now: one cannot posit a grandmother turned into a bicycle in order to “maintain a critical distance towards [the Resistance’s] leadership while remaining unwavering in our support for Palestinian liberation”. One supports this Resistance or one does not support Palestinian liberation. “The conditions themselves call out: Hic Rhodus, hic salta!”

Ceasefire Negotiations

In negotiations towards a possible ceasefire, Hamas’s hegemonic role is extremely apparent: they attend the meetings with Qatari and Egyptian mediators, and take any proposals back to the Resistance as a whole for approval. As their statements during the latest round of negotiations show, Hamas clearly want a ceasefire—but not at any cost. ‘Israel’, conversely does not want a ceasefire at all; it still wants revenge, and has not accomplished politicide through genocide. In official statements, Ismail Haniyeh has re-emphasised the “positive and flexible positions” of the Resistance, and claimed that it is Netanyahu “wants to invent perpetual excuses for continuing the aggression and expanding the scope of the conflict, sabotaging the efforts made through mediators and various parties.” Whilst the ‘Israeli’ position in negotiations has broadly been to demand the return of the hostages in order for them to even consider a cessation in aggression (with no guarantees that they would actually stop the killing), what Hamas and the Resistance are seeking is a genuine ceasefire (which would include the return of hostages): “a phased agreement that ends the aggression, ensures withdrawal, and achieves a serious prisoner exchange deal.” As the PFLP put it: “the goal of the negotiations from the American-zionist perspective is to wrest the card of zionist prisoners from the grip of the resistance and then return to completing the project of displacement and elimination, a matter that the resistance cannot allow to pass.” The Resistance is united around these demands, despite efforts to fracture that unity. There are, of course, some differences of tone in the statements issued by the PFLP, PIJ, and Hamas, but that is as one would expect in a bloc constituted by pluralism and shared struggle. Indeed, it may well be the case that Hamas would have accepted some of sort of arrangement without a genuine ceasefire guarantee, were it not for the discipline imposed upon them by the Resistance as a whole, and, more significantly, the Palestinian people, who will render any bad agreements impossible to implement.

Of course, it is necessary to note that ceasefire negotiations are taking place in a context where, on the one hand, ‘Israel’ is losing, but on the other, it retains the capacity to inflict famine. Famine, therefore, is central to ‘Israel’’s strategy, and this determines both the almost total restriction of aid, and the massacres of those trying to receive what small amount there is. It has been impossible to subdue the Palestinian people and Resistance by military means; that element of genocide as a means to an end has failed. Now genocide through famine towards the same end is being attempted. Famine is being used to try to break the Resistance, to force them to accept terms which allow for any relief. This of course shapes the negotiating position of Hamas and the Resistance. For Hamas to seek compromise with ‘Israel’ to end a famine would by no means be conformism or cowardice; it would be distinct from contemptible bargaining.

The ceasefire negotiations are also shaped by proximity to elements of the Arab big bourgeoisie, especially elements of the Qatari state. Hamas’s leadership-in-exile is, of course, based in Qatar, and this might exert some additional pressures on the situation. Yemen’s Minister for Information, Dhaifallah Al-Shami, has posed the question of Hamas’s possible expulsion from Qatar (“I doubt that Qatar would decide to expel the leadership of Hamas from its territory. We open our doors to all fighters in Sanaa”), which might suggest that such pressures exist, though nobody else has mentioned such a possibility. The role of Qatar in the negotiations is consistently stressed by Hamas, and rarely mentioned by any of the other Resistance groups.31 An agreement negotiated, in whole or in part, by Qatar would be a major diplomatic coup for the emirate. Countering these tendencies is the fact that the military struggle in Gaza necessarily elevates Hamas’s military leadership (who are based in Gaza) over those leaders currently based in Qatar. On the other hand, the negotiation process tends to centre those closer to Qatar—or would, were it not for the counter-pressures of the other Resistance groups. For the moment, subordination to Qatar seems less decisive than Hamas’s need to embody national and collective values.

The West Bank resists!

Within much of the pro-Palestinian discourse in Britain and the US, the West Bank largely appears as a counter to ‘Israeli’ justifications of violence: “there’s no Hamas in the West Bank,” no ‘Israeli’ hostages, yet there is still substantial violence and repression. This line entails a twofold risk.

Firstly, it is hard to disarticulate this argument from the implication that there is at least some justification for ‘Israeli’ violence in places where there is a Hamas presence. There is not.

Secondly, it effaces the extent of resistance in the West Bank (an effacement further enabled by the identification of the entire Resistance with Hamas; thus no Hamas equals no resistance), treating it as a place of passive suffering: West Bank Palestinians are constructed (to borrow Kanafani’s terms) as “heroic” but “paralysed” (or as having been subject to an effective politicide). In actuality, there is substantial fighting and resistance in the West Bank, including from groups who have far less presence in Gaza, as well as more spontaneous resistance.32

It is important to note, against the narratives of helpless passivity, that there would be no need for ‘Israel’ to attempt politicide if there was no resistant power. A force does not go out of its way to destroy the arch in Jenin unless that symbol terrifies it. In other words, some of the IOF’s sadism and attempt to wipe out national symbols would be unintelligible if there was not a resistance in the West Bank that was a genuine threat. The Resistance groups regularly report the IOF being forced to withdraw (though they often return) recently in both Tulkarem and Jenin. The West Bank and Al-Quds has resisted—both in solidarity with Gaza (example), and against its own oppression—and this resistance goes back beyond the beginning of Al-Aqsa Flood. The West Bank always resists.

This also undermines a central exculpatory narrative: that ‘settlers’ (those who occupy land outside the 1967 ‘borders’ of ‘Israel’) are to blame for the violence in the West Bank, and that this violence, unlike that in Gaza, is unjustified. This argument is frequently rehearsed within ‘Israeli’ liberalism (such as it exists). It is also relied upon by those in Britain and the US who attempt to adopt a pro-Palestinian perspective but on the terms of liberal Zionism, and even by some of Israel’s backers – Britain, for example, is banning entry to “extremist settlers…[who] are undermining security and stability for Israelis and Palestinians”—as if the British border could ever be an instrument of justice.

The exculpatory narrative insists that, yes, there is real injustice in the West Bank—however, this is down to settlers: bad apples who have little to do with the ‘Israeli’ state, and may even (as the British legislation states) be acting against its interests. Even when it is admitted that the IOF have been involved—that settlers have “teamed up with soldiers”—the violence, ultimately, is presented as having been being initiated by settlers, in a relation to soldiers that somehow circumvents senior IOF command. There is also an analogous argument on the political level—a line taken up by Haaretz and praised in Britain—that the ‘Israeli’ state, an essentially benign or neutral instrument, has been taken over by a “settler government”, and this explains the injustice. In actuality, all the violence and repression in the West Bank originates from the ‘Israeli’ state; settlers are the bearers of this state logic, not the initiators of violence. Additionally, given the 76 year-long Nakba and the broad support across ‘Israeli’ society for genocidal intensification, to posit the state as having been corrupted by settlers is historically and politically erroneous, an attempt to salvage the good old ‘Israel’.

The extent of fighting and incursions in the West Bank represents far more than settler-initiated violence. It would not be possible without the cohered capacity of the state for focused violence. Nor would it be possible without the complicity of the Palestinian Authority, world imperialism’s security sub-contractor in the West Bank. As well as the violence and incursions, there are also the continuing abductions—including of Palestinian captives freed in the November truce—sometimes with the help of the “traitorous” PA. The PA have also killed Resistance fighters in the West Bank. The PFLP have argued that the PA’s collaboration with ‘Israel’ “has turned the Authority’s Security Forces into a security guard for the occupation and settlers.”

The traitorous PA is key to understanding the situation, both in terms of its actions, and how this (widely shared) sense of its treachery impacts the politics of the Resistance groups. It is particularly relevant to the various “day after” proposals, most of which involve the imposition of arrangements on Gaza, usually under the authority of the PA (sometimes with Mahmoud Abbas replaced, sometimes not), and with complete indifference to the popular will. If politicide, as Daqqah argues, aims to destroy precisely those capacities which stop negotiators enforcing concessions on the Palestinian people—rendering them, as Kanafani puts it, “heroic” but “paralysed”—the history of these types of proposals reveals them as always politicidal. They are founded on, the intended liquidation of the Palestinian Resistance, and the involvement of various regional power—today, Turkey, Qatar, the UAE, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt—working on behalf, in the last instance, of world imperialism.

The PA gains its functional legitimacy not as a representative of popular sovereignty, but in its role as a sub-contractor for external powers, including (but not only) ‘Israel’. The role of Abbas here is simultaneously contemptible and irrelevant, and the Resistance groups focus their critique far more on the PA as a whole than on Abbas as an (admittedly disgraceful) individual. The treachery of the PA is a particular target of the PFLP, but all the Resistance groups share this view, emphasising the PA’s in its imprisoning of resistant Palestinians on behalf of the occupation. Indeed, the stated purpose of the Resistance News Prisoners channel is to distribute “news and media about our heroic prisoners in zionist and PA prisons”. Ahmad Sa’adat, the General Secretary of the PFLP, was held in a PA prison for four years before being abducted to ‘Israel’ with the full complicity of the PA – and the British and US prison guards, who abandoned their posts just before he was seized.33

As we have seen, describing the situation as “the Israel-Hamas war”, or keeping the critical focus solely on Gaza, not only denies the anti-imperialist struggles across the Arab nation (and Palestine’s place within them), but also works to conceptually separate Gaza from Al-Quds, from the West Bank, from the oppression of Palestinians within what is currently called ‘Israel’ (so serious that even the British border recognises it as such), and from Palestinian refugees across the world, forced into multi-generational exile, and prevented from returning to their homeland. But the Palestinian struggle is one struggle—one struggle on many fronts.

Partly as a result of ‘Israel’’s inability to achieve its war aims (losing in Gaza, losing on the front with Lebanon…), and its desperation to achieve something, the West Bank has become a major front of that struggle, with ‘Israeli’ violence escalating and intensifying. On April 21st, the IOF committed a massacre in Nour Shams refugee camp (which they had already attacked in mid-October), with images published “which could be mistaken for those from Gaza, [and] testify to the fact that our enemy is the same entity built on the genocide and ethnic cleansing of our people across all our occupied lands.” A large number of fighters from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade were killed attempting to defend Nour Shams.

Two weeks later, on May 4th, they committed another massacre in Deir Al-Ghusun, north of the occupied city of Tulkarem, in which, per a PFLP statement:

the occupation deliberately bombed the besieged house, assassinated three young men, and mutilated and defiled their bodies in a cowardly crime that confirms the established zionist doctrine of revenge to raise the morale of its soldiers after the successive defeats they are exposed to in Gaza and other fronts.

The last two months in the West Bank have seen not only a brutal intensification of violence, but the deployment of IOF techniques of the sort they continue to use in Gaza. These are the techniques of genocide.

Then, on May 21st, the IOF committed a massacre in Jenin. In this massacre, as they have repeatedly done in Gaza, ‘Israel’ deliberately targeted doctors and medical infrastructure, a tactic which, as the PFLP point out, “is now finding room to expand…in every inch of occupied Palestine due to American cover and international silence.”

The sheer extent of destruction in Nour Shams, and the targeting of medical personnel and infrastructure in Jenin, attest to the fact that the last two months in the West Bank have seen not only a brutal intensification of violence, but the deployment of IOF techniques of the sort they continue to use in Gaza. These are the techniques of genocide. This intensification is obviously quantitative, but it is also, ominously, qualitative: a shift away from the politicidal degradation analysed by Daqqah—the unified effect of a chaotic assemblage of fragmentation, humiliation and constant, ordinary violence—and towards the organised techniques of annihilation.

Separation and unity

There are three competing and contradictory dialectics of fragmentation (or shattering) and unity (or unification). The first of these emerges from the current practices of ‘Israel’, which involve the physical destruction of the Palestinian people through genocide and, potentially, the liquidation of Palestine. This liquidation is a perennial fantasy of the ‘Israeli’ right (and, at this point, the ‘Israeli’ right describes the vast majority of ‘Israelis’), and was recently expressed by Avigdor Liberman in the Jerusalem Post. It relies on the claim that Palestine (even post-1967 Palestine) has no reality, and that the situation can therefore be resolved by Gaza being transferred to Egypt, some part of the West Bank that ‘Israel’ doesn’t want being transferred to Jordan, and Al-Quds being fully integrated into ‘Israel’, becoming its capital. This is proposed destruction on the diplomatic-legal level. The other side of this destruction is the moment of unification, where fragmentation becomes its opposite. To physically destroy the Palestinian people requires, from ‘Israel’s point of view, a grim unification of Gaza and the West Bank, as the entity increasingly applies to the latter the genocidal techniques it has already been using in the former. But/and, this destruction and genocidal unification has also strengthened the unity of the Palestinian Resistance.

The second dialectic is, for the most part, the position of world imperialism—not only the US, but regional bearers of imperialism (with the exception of contemporary ‘Israel’) too. There is a risk that of position being viewed, on the left, as a “nice” alternative to the physical destruction of the Palestinian people, but this must be rejected. Moreover, this position need necessarily not be anti-genocide. It competes with the ‘Israeli’ position, but it is not necessarily in antagonistic contradiction with it. It is the position of genocide as a means to an end (politicide) rather than genocide as an end in itself. The general preference of world imperialism is for an administrative unity, under some configuration of the PA to be imposed on the West Bank and Gaza from above. This would be the imposition onto Palestine of, in Daqqah’s words, “a level below full organisation, but not devolving into total chaos”.34 Such a moment of unification would be predicated upon the fragmentation of the Palestinian people and their nullification as a political factor. Fragmentation, then, is the condition of possibility of administrative unity.

The intention of world imperialism is to render the Palestinian people, like Marx’s “sack of potatoes”, as a “simple addition of homologous magnitudes” with “merely a local interconnection… the identity of their interests forms no community, no national bond, and no political organisation among them.” As Marx argues, it was this fragmentation and absence of “national bond” and political organisation that both enabled and required, in 19th century France, the Bonapartist form of unification: a unification imposed from above. Where the Palestinian people differ from the French peasantry of the 19th century is that, despite everything, they still exist as a people. For Marx, the socio-economic position of the French peasantry guaranteed for the state their political reliability and malleability. With the Palestinians, things are very different. For administrative unity to work, separation and fragmentation—politicide as the destruction of national bonds and political organisation—must be imposed. At the moment, the attempt is being made to impose it through genocide.

The final dialectic of fragmentation and unification is that of the Palestinian Resistance. This dialectic is radically incompatible with the two previous imperialist positions. The unity of the Resistance is a political unity, not an administrative one, and it is the political unity that makes administrative unity impossible. The Resistance is both the expression and reinforcement of the national bond, rooted in the truth that the Palestinian people exist as a people, with collective and national values, despite all the efforts at their destruction. This unity is ideological, political, and military, but due to fragmentation, it is prevented from having a government form. The potential attraction of administrative unity is that it would resolve (albeit badly) the fragmentation between the West Bank and Gaza. The Resistance groups have their own solution to this fragmentation: a governmental form of political unity called the “three pillars”, recently defined by Ismail Haniyeh:

a unified national leadership within the framework of the Palestine Liberation Organisation for all forces, forming a national unity government in the West Bank and Gaza with an agreed national reference, and conducting general presidential, legislative, and Palestinian National Council elections.

The fact that Hamas are explicitly committed not only to elections, but to the establishment of a unity government that would necessarily require them to give up a lot of power would seem to undermine various hack arguments that present the group as brutally and undemocratically intransigent. Where the imperialist positions outlined above rely on the fragmentation and destruction (whether physical or political, or both) of the Palestinian people in order to impose new, unwanted unities, the unity of the Resistance emerges from and, crucially, helps secure against all efforts at fragmentation, the continuing unity of the Palestinian people.

This unity, as we have seen, is hard-won against genocide and attempted politicide. It is crucial to understand quite how intense ‘Israel’s’ efforts at politicide have been. As Daqqah writes:

The South African delegation that visited Palestine [in 2008] was astonished by the extent and nature of the measures imposed by Israel on the Palestinians and described them as having far surpassed the measures taken by the governments of South Africa during the Apartheid period. In the worst times of racial segregation in South Africa, there were never segregated roads for blacks and whites like the existing segregation in the OPT between roads for Jews and for Arabs… The one thing which astonished the South African delegation and rendered the term ‘racial segregation’ insufficient for describing and defining the Palestinians under the occupation, was the system of roadblocks separating not only Palestinians and Israelis, but also Palestinians from each other. Israel, as we know, divided the OPT and cut them into small enclaves, which has made life unbearable for the inhabitants.35

This separation of Palestinians from Palestinians operates on a number of levels, from the separation of the West Bank and Gaza, to separations internal to the West Bank (the enclaves), to the various practices that Daqqah analyses within the smaller prison but reflected in the bigger one. To these we can now add—in a reversal of the transfer of genocidal techniques from Gaza to the West Bank—the imposition, both through genocide and the enforcement of disparate and disconnected so-called “safe zones”, of an new set of separations internal to Gaza, mirroring those internal to the West Bank.

Within the smaller prison, Daqqah also analyses the (partially successful) efforts to degrade national and collective values and identities into sub-national ones, rendering things easier for the prison administration and blunting, for a time, the moral leadership of the prisoners. The intention was to turn the prisoners “from a unified force with national concerns and shared values into individuals immersed in their private demands and concerns” and Daqqah also writes of “the measures taken in order to crush the prisoners [which] targeted their feelings of solidarity and the values of collective national action. Solidarity had the ability of turning the prisoners from a group of individuals and diverse factions, with various beliefs and ideologies, into one force.”36 Such immersion in private demands and concerns is the pre-condition for bargaining.

What ‘Israel’ aims at (in the bigger and the smaller prisons) is a set of what Nicos Poulantzas calls “isolation effects”,37 which are comparable to—indeed, in part derived from—and also intensifications of the isolation effects of capital in general. As a Marxist, Daqqah theorised the links between the “shapeless modern oppression” of ‘Israeli’ prisons—both big and small—and capitalist exploitation, in terms of how the oppressor or exploiter reaches “into every detail of your life”.38 And so the sub-national identities into which ‘Israel’ tried to degrade the prisoners included “geographical affiliations”, party or factional identities, and, strikingly, the family. Family identities, for Daqqah, are both as anti-collective or anti-social as they are for Michèle Barrett and Mary McIntosh39—but they are also prisoners’ “most important and supportive social circle”.40 Knowing this, ‘Israel’ has developed techniques of isolating prisoners from their families, in order to break their resistance.

Against all this, the fact that the Palestinian people exist at all as a people—that consciousness moulding has decisively failed—is a considerable achievement.

The Human Rights Discourse

There is another position, critical of ‘Israel’ and putatively pro-Palestinian, which replaces solidarity with the Resistance and its logic of unification in struggle with a broad acceptance of the fragmentation and isolation effects aimed for by the seemingly more benign imperialism described above. This is a long-standing tendency, and it was critically conceptualised by Daqqah as “the human rights discourse”.41 In this discourse, Palestinians are (or ought to be) as much a sack of potatoes as they are for those seeking to force an administrative unity.

Marx’s “they cannot represent themselves, they must be represented” here becomes, “they cannot save themselves, they must be saved.” And, as Daqqah clarifies, the saviour in most cases is supposed to be ‘Israel’—or, at least ‘Israel’’s better self. The human rights discourse, he argues:

concentrates its special efforts in order to prove specific violations considered by the Israeli judiciary and media as the exception to the rule, which is respect for human and prisoners’ rights. The result is that contrary to the pretence of exposing and being transparent, in reality this discourse hides facts and obscures the truth.42

Three elements are significant here. Firstly, the stabilising effect of the discourse: horrors are not the rule, but the exception; the normal functioning of ‘Israel’ is essentially benign, and problems can be resolved within its framework. Secondly, connecting to Daqqah’s theory of the smaller and bigger prison, elements of the human rights discourse and its effects traverse all of Palestine—they are not just applicable to the jails. Thirdly, the human rights discourse has its own isolation effects. Indeed, the discourse itself is a part of the shift in the repertoires of torture towards consciousness moulding and separation. To return to Poulantzas: juridical subjectivation—and human rights discourse represents perhaps its leftward limit—is the model for the isolation effect. As demonstrated by the functioning of courts, the subject under the law is always an individual, and always alone. Moreover, in the Palestinian case, these isolated subjects are subjected to the jurisdiction of a hostile occupying power. The human rights discourse affirms, on the one hand, the agency of ‘Israel’ to correct so-called exceptions, and on the other, the Palestinian as isolated suffering subject, unable to save themselves. The subject of human rights is barely distinct from ‘Israel’’s moulded subject. Human rights discourse, therefore, doubly reproduces politicide.

The human rights discourse has its own isolation effects. Indeed, the discourse itself is a part of the shift in the repertoires of torture towards consciousness moulding and separation.

The human rights discourse has very much been evident in the last month, following the announcement from Karim Khan, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, of his intention to pursue arrest warrants against not only Benjamin Netanyahu and Yoav Gallant, but also against the Hamas and Al-Qassam leaders Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Deif, and Ismail Haniyeh. The contradiction between the celebratory positions taken up by the vast majority of the British left (within which the human rights discourse is hegemonic43) and the critical ones taken up by the Palestinian Resistance has been particularly striking. Samidoun released a statement reminding the world that “there is no equation to be made between the legitimate resistance of the Palestinian people and its leadership, including Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Deif and Ismail Haniyeh, and the illegitimate Zionist coloniser”. PIJ said that Khan was “equating the victim with the executioner”. The human rights discourse abstracts the crucial distinction between resistance and colonialism, and assumes an Olympian position, entitled to judge both sides. International law and human rights discourse assumes its (and the state’s whose agency is held to be its legitimate policemen) role in punishing, in place of the action of people to free themselves. The human rights discourse aims to transform each Palestinian from an “active subject…into a passive, receptive object.”44

In the human rights discourse, when states fail, when the aberration reaches a certain point, international law must step in and assume the role in judging and punishes. This internationalisation of the law further marginalises the action of people to free themselves. In the human rights discourse and its practice, there is a double move away from this active subject. Firstly, the move to the isolated subject of the law. This subject is equally alone when accused and when attempting to assert their rights, this is very different from the resistant subject, indeed, the resistant subject stands potentially accused. Secondly, even this isolated subject does not appear in court, such a subject cannot represent themselves, indeed, it is barely even represented. It is substituted by the, or ultimately, a state, or by “the international community” acting in a state-like way to prosecute a violation of the law. Within the human rights discourse, ‘Israel’ is held to be the state able to correct crimes committed by individuals in ‘Israeli’ institutions. If ‘Israel’ fails to do this, either another state, notably South Africa with the ICJ, or the bearers of international law in a state-like function, such as Karim Khan, must step in.

The individualisation in the indictment of Netanyahu and Gallant serves as an alibi. It not only ignores, in the words of PIJ, “the hundreds of war criminals among the enemy’s leaders, both politicians and military, whose crimes have been broadcasted in sound and image since October 7 until today,” but also the entire structure of the state and the Zionist project as a whole. Indeed, Khan’s references to ‘Israel’’s “right to take action to defend its population” further insulates the core of ‘Israel’ from attention. Even to punish every individual war criminal as an individual would, as Daqqah says, “hide facts and obscure the truth”.45 This obfuscation, particularly when only two individuals are indicted, speaks to the aberration model of the human rights discourse and of international law. It posits, implicitly, a return to “normal”, once wrongdoers are punished and removed from power, with international law the agent. International law, in its “majestic equality”,46 has become a fetish for most of the left in the imperial core.

In contrast to this fetishisation, Kanafani begins his 1971 interview with the NLR by saying to Fred Halliday: “I appreciate the fact that you reject bourgeois moralism and obedience to international law. These have been the cause of our tragedy.” Also against fetishisation, the Samidoun statement argues that “every legal achievement has been brought about not by the objective power or application of law, but by the shifting of reality brought about by the Palestinian armed struggle.” This brings us back to a final, central, aspect of Daqqah’s critique of human rights discourse. Human rights discourse is presented by Daqqah as a result of struggle in the prisons: the struggle in the prisons forces concessions and modifies techniques and repertoires. In the human rights discourse, conversely, the core of power—the ‘Israeli’ state—is left untouched.47 “The tradition of the oppressed,” as Walter Benjamin wrote, “teaches us that the ‘state of emergency’ in which we live is not the exception but the rule.” Echoing this from within the tradition of the oppressed, the PIJ statement on the indictments situates the present emergency within “76 years of crimes against humanity and war crimes against our people.”

The ICC announcement, then, is a victory in some ways—it is the effect of struggle within the law—but it is a victory where the basic and essential structures that help reproduce the current state of things remain untouched. We see one effect of these structures in the warrants for the three Resistance leaders. International law and the human rights discourse may not be the cause of this particular tragedy, but they absolutely offer no way out of it.

  1. Walid Daqqah. 2011. ‘Consciousness Moulded or the Re-Identification of Torture’. In Abeer Baker and Anat Matar (eds.): Threat: Palestinian Political Prisoners in Israel. London: Pluto Press, p.236. 

  2. Tacitus. [98] 2009. Agricola. Translated by A. R. Birley. Oxford. Oxford World’s Classics, Chapter XXX. 

  3. More recently, the US position on refusing seems to have hardened. The first round of talks halted almost as soon as they had started, following the attack on US troops in Jordan, and there now seems to be an increased reluctance to withdraw. Little has changed in the fight against ISIS, beyond US and British anti-Iranian and anti-Iraqi Resistance actions helping ISIS a little. However, it seems likely that its concerns about Iran as a challenger to regional hegemony will motivate the US to continue to station troops in Iraq.

  4. Judith Butler. [2010] 2016. Frames of War: When is Life Grievable? London: Verso. 

  5. On June 11th, the homepage of Electronic Intifada featured 20 stories, of which only one substantially dealt with armed resistance — in this case the impact of Hezbollah on ‘Israel’ internally — and one with Palestinian protests within ‘Israel’. The rest predominantly covered ‘Israeli’ massacres, especially in Nuseirat, and also the suppression of solidarity with Palestine in Europe. To point this out is not to criticise the coverage of ‘Israeli’ massacres of Palestinians. These matter a great deal, and are covered far, far less by the mainstream media than they ought to be. The lack of coverage of the Resistance, however, does end up presenting a limited and potentially obfuscatory sense of the situation. I will return to this in the third piece in this series. 

  6. I will return to these processes of ideological structuring — and how a fact can be acknowledged and instrumentalised in one context, while any wider effect of that acknowledgement is completely contained — in the second piece in this series. The most striking example of instrumentalisation is Heidi Bachram’s claim, in order to demand the proscription of the PFLP and the banning of Leila Khaled from entering Britain, that “The PFLP participated in 7/10 atrocities and were and are likely still holding hostages”. In any other context, for ‘Israel’s’ most enthusiastic backers, October 7th was entirely the affair of Hamas. 

  7. RNN links “Arab Tails” to the following image. 

  8. Obviously Cameron’s statement ignored the Damascus attack, hence the challenge. Sunak also ignored it, accusing Iran “of sowing chaos in its own backyard”, and promising to “stand up” for the security of our “regional partners including Jordan and Iraq”. Hopefully, what Britain has done to “stand up” for the security of Iraq is clear. Starmer also made no mention of the attack, but bewailed “the fear and instability being generated by Iran”. 

  9. Until fairly recently, the fact ‘Israel’ was losing was barely remarked upon in Britain. There was one strong piece by Paul Rogers in the Guardian in December, in which Rogers also suggested that the extent of ‘Israeli’ casualties was being underplayed — but that was more or less that, and the piece never entered into the general discourse as something “respectable”. However, on the back of an article in Haaretz, which argued that “Israel has been defeated – A Total Defeat”, Owen Jones has since published a video on this theme. The Jones video is interesting and symptomatic, as is the fact that it required the legitimacy of an article in Haaretz to prompt it. I will explore it further in the third part of this piece. 

  10. Daqqah’s work in English is restricted to the chapter ‘Consciousness Moulded or the Reidentification of Torture’, in the Pluto Press anthology Threat: Palestinian Political Prisoners in Israel, and two remarkable essays of a far more literary character: “A Place Without a Door”, and “Uncle, Give me a Cigarette”. A fine analysis and account of Daqqah’s “abolitionist decolonisation”, can be found in Shai Gortler’s ‘The Samud Within’, which draws on as-yet-untranslated Daqqah texts written in Arabic and Hebrew, as well as ‘Consciousness Moulded…’. 

  11. Daqqah, ‘Consciousness Moulded’, p.236-7. 

  12. Daqqah, ‘Consciousness Moulded’, p.237. 

  13. Daqqah, ‘Consciousness Moulded’, p.248. 

  14. Daqqah, ‘Consciousness Moulded’, p.237. 

  15. The linked statement here is the latest from a Resistance group on field executions. To get some sense of the scale of field executions — though the on-the-ground knowledge of even the Resistance groups will be limited — search “field executions” on RNN

  16. It is worth also searching RNN and RNN Prisoners for Sde Teman. Such a search will show that it was being discussed far prior to the CNN story. Following the discussions of the Palestinian prisoner groups, Sde Teman was also mentioned by Haaretz (far prior to CNN deigning to notice), as the prisoner groups acknowledge. 

  17. Antony Loewenstein. 2023. The Palestine Laboratory: How Israel Exports the Technology of Occupation Around the World. London: Verso, p.5. 

  18. The duration of the protests, and their intensity, should be clear from a search for “Jordan” in RNN

  19. Of Amman in 1984, Genet writes: “everyone felt relieved at his own rottenness, soothed at escaping from moral and aesthetic effort.” Jean Genet. [1986] 2003. Prisoner of Love. Translated by Barbara Bray. New York: NYRB, p.71. This rottenness, and the relief at contemplating it, is what Gaza refuses, and what is particularly admired by the Jordanian protestors in “Gaza does not bargain”. 

  20. Did the Atlantic expect Al-Ejri to turn up like this

  21. There was a further escalation after the Nuseirat massacre. Again, what other response should there be? 

  22. One can see this by searching RNN for “American-British warplanes”. 

  23. A distinction can be made between a “classical” Leninist understanding of hegemony — what I have, elsewhere called an “internal” account — in which the question is the hegemonic element that helps cohere a particular political alliance or bloc, and an “external”, more Gramscian account, where the question of the hegemony of a particular social group over the whole of a society is emphasised. 

  24. On the question of primary contradictions and the PFLP, see Samar Al-Saleh and L.K.‘s ‘The Palestinian Left will not be Hijacked: A Critique of Palestine: A Socialist Introduction. The authors are particularly (and rightly) critical of the “mechanistic” way in which the category of Stalinism is applied to the apparently “‘false’ political tendency that places anticolonial liberation before socialism.” 

  25. Leon Trotsky. 1947. Stalin: An Appraisal of the Man and His Influence. Edited and translated by Charles Malamuth. London: Hollis & Carter, p.165. 

  26. In Kaminer’s criticism of the Palestinian Resistance, it is difficult not to discern in his allegations of potential (!) extractivism and ecological mismanagement a further support in a racist, “tsk, tsk, these Arabs and their uncontrollable lust for hydrocarbons and ecological destruction.” 

  27. Max Ajl. 2021. A People’s Green New Deal. London: Pluto Press, p.158. This combination of “non-political ecology”-type attacks as part of muddying questions around coups has been most apparent in the cases of Venezuela, and particularly Bolivia, but Kaminer’s attempted argument shows that this sort of greenwashing of imperialism is widely available as a strategy. It’s worth reading Ajl’s argument around this in A People’s Green New Deal with his excellent article ‘Theories of Political Ecology: Monopoly Capital Against People and the Planet’, especially the scepticism around the concept of “extractivism” and the “ignoring [of] the contradictions of Southern development and national liberation as they unfold against imperialism and monopoly capital.” Notably, in this text, Ajl is critical of Malm’s concept of “fossil capital” as another type of “carbon reductionism”. In the Malm/Kaminer debate, it is perhaps relevant to note that, although Malm takes up the correct line politically, his master concept of fossil capitalism is extremely mobilisable — as is “extractivism” — for the kind of gotchas Kaminer attempts. What insulates Malm from reaction on Palestine is not his key concept, or indeed his wider theory, but his contingent political perspective. 

  28. Ajl, A People’s Green New Deal, p.12. 

  29. Malm describes himself as an “ecological-Leninist”, but Malm’s ecological Leninism is essentially additive, a bringing together of two separate terms: a green term, and a red (Leninist) term, with the red term referring both to class politics and organisation. I have critiqued this previously, drawing on Ajl and Moore to suggest that this approach in fact leads to a tempering of radicalism. The ecological-Leninism I am calling for here not only involves the concrete analysis of concrete situations, as well as a particular account of hegemony, but is also essentially monist rather than dualist: a Leninism in the web of life, as it were. Following the classical account of hegemony, the notion that “Leninism” can represent an unambiguous working class politics seems questionable at best. Leninism is always a politics of alliance, and it is alliance that poses the question of hegemony. 

  30. Louis Althusser has an interesting, if peculiar, reading of this phrase (or rather “the British one-liner, if my aunt had two wheels…”) within Marx’s work. Althusser suggests this lies behind Marx’s insistence that “if the essence (or knowledge) came down to the phenomenon (to what is immediately given), there would be no need for science”, which Althusser claims it “no doubt inspired”. The inspiration seems implausible, not least because, rather than positing a situation where attending to the immediate appearance of the aunt-bicycle could guarantee knowledge, the line surely refers to something like Kaminer’s raising of trivial, even fantastical, objections to avoid acknowledging what the conditions themselves call out for. Ironically, perhaps, the famous Gino D’Acampo outburst is, in fact suggestive of Althusser’s reading: a macaroni cheese with ham does not, thereby, become a carbonara. The change of appearance does not impact the essence. See Louis Althusser. [1972-3] 2020. ‘Draft of a Reply to Pilar Vilar’. In History and Imperialism: Writings 1963-86. Edited and Translated by G. M. Goshgarian. Cambridge: Polity, p.46. Versions of the formulation appear fairly often in Marx, probably most importantly in Chapter 48 of Capital: Volume III, in the form, “all science would be superfluous if the outward appearance and the essence of things directly coincided”. Other formulations tend to define the essence of things relationally: the contrast between appearance and “inner connection” as the basis for the need for science, for example, in the 1867 letter to Engels in MECW, Volume 42, p.380. We are a long way here from aunts and grandmothers who may or may not also be bicycles. 

  31. This is easiest to show by doing a search of “Qatar” on RNN, though there are useful examples from during the May ceasefire negotiations: 1, 2, 3, 4

  32. As well as defensive resistance to ‘Israeli’ incursions, there are continual operations against the ‘Israeli’ state in the West Bank and Al-Quds, particularly against police and checkpoints. These were happening before the beginning of Al-Aqsa Flood, and are ongoing. One can search RNN for “stabbing operation” — usually conducted by unaffiliated individuals — and “shooting operation” — usually conducted by the Resistance groups in the West Bank — for a sense of this. The most recent shooting operation was conducted by the Al-Wadie group in Nablus on July 2nd; the most recent stabbing operation took place on June 18th. Shooting and stabbing operations are often undertaken against police and checkpoints

  33. Grimly, major parts of the British left see prison guards, who are unionised in the POA, as comrades who are part of a shared struggle. We should reject this, not only for their role in Britain, but also their role in Palestine. 

  34. Daqqah, ’Consciousness Moulded’, p.237. 

  35. Daqqah, ‘Consciousness Moulded’, p.236. 

  36. Daqqah, ‘Consciousness Moulded’, p.248,243. 

  37. Nicos Poulantzas. [1968] 1978. Political Power and Social Classes. Translated by Timothy O’Hagan. London: Verso, p.130. 

  38. Daqqah, ‘Consciousness Moulded’, p.235. 

  39. Michèle Barrett and Mary McIntosh. [1982] 2017. The Anti-Social Family. London: Verso. 

  40. Daqqah, ‘Consciousness Moulded’, p.241. 

  41. Daqqah, ‘Consciousness Moulded’, p.234. 

  42. Daqqah, ‘Consciousness Moulded’, p.234. 

  43. Celebrations of the ICC judgement were notable, and almost universal among the British left on twitter. A symptomatic and worked-out position on the ICC, within the human rights discourse, can be found in Owen Jones’s column of May 22nd. Jones writes: “The arrest warrant requests detail, firstly, how three Hamas leaders should be held criminally responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity including extermination, murder and hostage-taking. Their guilt is incontrovertible, and no cause justifies such depraved crimes against civilians. But there is a distinction to be made. For while Hamas’s crimes were obscene and indefensible, the prosecutor’s proposed charges against the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his defence minister, Yoav Gallant, describe atrocities that were directly facilitated by cheerleader politicians, most notably in the US, UK and Germany, and legitimised by multiple media outlets.” For Jones, then, there is no moral distinction to be made between Palestinian victim and ‘Israeli’ executioner. The issue resides in the particular culpability of politicians and journalists in the imperial core for one set of “obscene” “indefensible” crimes, while they are held to bear no responsibility for the other set (which remain obscene and indefensible). In, fact even the claim politicians and journalists in the imperial core are culpable for ‘Israel’’s crimes but not the ‘crimes’ of Hamas, does not hold. It is the occupation and its horrors, as backed and enabled by world imperialism, that led to Al-Aqsa Flood as a response. There is culpability there too. We should also note Jones’s individualisation here; the point is surely not politicians and journalists as individuals, but the structures and relationships of which they are bearers, and that entails the complicity with those structures of everyone in the imperial core with (including, quite strongly, critical writers for the Guardian). 

  44. Daqqah, ‘Consciousness Moulded’, p.246. 

  45. Daqqa,. ‘Consciouness Moulded’, p.234. 

  46. See Anatole France’s Le Lys Rouge: “Ils y doivent travailler devant la majestueuse égalité des lois, qui interdit au riche comme au pauvre de coucher sous les ponts, de mendier dans les rues et de voler du pain.” Peculiarly, the standard English translation renders la majestueuse égalité as “the majestic quality” which “prohibits the wealthy as well as the poor from sleeping under the bridges, from begging in the streets, and from stealing bread.” 

  47. Daqqah, ‘Consciousness Moulded’, p.237,244-6.