Two cities, Mariupol and Gaza, have been under siege, but only one is liberated. The besiegers, Kiev and Tel Aviv found common cause, as the Western coalition gave them money and weapons to fight for this cause against any comer. Both are colonial enterprises, set up to further the interests of the Empire, and constructed as ethno-states designed to discriminate against other races, religions or persuasions within their own state. Both are committed to the expulsion or extermination of the 'other' by whatever means are available, and with no exceptions or sensitivity to their universal human rights. There may be some confusion here as to which party is under siege and which is the besieger - though it may be confidently asserted that we, the Empire, always support the besieger, while at the same time claiming they are the victim. Clearly those advocates for the Empire, the 'Empire of Lies' as the Russian leader has aptly described it, would dispute this claim rather than admit to such duplicitous bastardy. When the situation becomes so dire for the besieged party - in the current case the whole population of Gaza - that the siege cannot be denied, then a justification will be created. Currently in Gaza as the number of people killed by Israel's ruthless and criminal bombardment of civilian homes and public buildings exceeds 10,000, that justification is to say that the bombing is directed at Hamas, and that it holds responsibility for civilian deaths by embedding itself in the local population. Given that the Qassem Brigades of Hamas are the only militia actually fighting for the Palestinians and people of Gaza, and fighting for their liberation from the strangulating Israeli siege, one would presume they have the support of most of the population, which would be keen to support and protect its fighters. Hamas labelling as a 'terrorist group' by certain Western powers insults and surely angers them. Israel's efforts to blame Hamas for the deaths of their own countrymen are however just further proof of the Zionist state's criminality; the 'idea' of human shields is that they will protect their fighters, as no civilised country would even consider just killing innocent civilians regardless. That Israel even kills its own rather than be blackmailed for hostages suggests it is not yet civilised, and the medieval siege it has imposed on the 2.2 million residents of the Gaza strip confirms it. This may yet be a siege to the death, as some in Israel threaten to 'nuke' Gaza, while even the despised Netanyahu talks confidently of Gaza city - in the northern half of the strip - being cleared of people entirely so that Hamas can be permanently removed. Here is a view of Gaza from Sderot, just over the fence, and below the latest vision of Israel's expulsion of its terrorised and traumatised residents towards the South:
The siege of Mariupol began in May 2014, when Kiev's army and henchmen moved to seize the city from the Donetsk provincial authorities before they had time to form a local militia. The AFU chose May 9th, when the local Russian-speaking population was celebrating 'Victory Day' along with all their brothers and sisters in the Russian Federation. That victory was over the Nazis in 1944, when millions of Russian soldiers lost their lives driving the German army back from Belarus and Ukraine. The vital context missing from Western reporting on the current war in Ukraine is in the background to the American-initiated coup in Kiev in February 2014; the violent occupation of the Maidan before the final overthrow of the Yanukovich government was led by neo-Nazi thugs from Galicia in W. Ukraine, where Ukrainian nationalists had fought against Russia and with Nazi Germany in WW2. After the US-led coup enabled them to take power, they launched a war of 'Ukrainisation' against the Russian-speaking section of the country, with some leaders shamelessly calling for extermination or expulsion of Russian-speakers and sympathisers from Donbas. Also relevant was Kiev's designation of the Donetsk and Luhansk 'separatists' as 'terrorists', with their military campaign called an ATO, or Anti-Terror Operation. At least 14,000 civilians were killed in Donbas over the subsequent eight years by the Ukrainian army and their brutal nationalist brigades. This is a short video showing the arrival of the new Nazis of the Azov brigade in Mariupol, in a scene reminiscent of the arrival of ISIS in Raqqa:
The comparison between the two sieges, of Mariupol and Gaza, is confounded by the 'second siege' in Mariupol in April 2022, when the fighters from the Azov and other neo-Nazi battalions barricaded themselves inside the Azovstal Steel plant, in bunkers built for defence in Soviet times. The local Donetsk militia and Chechen forces, with some Russian backing, had steadily driven the Ukrainian army from the city, while most of its population had been evacuated to Donetsk and Russia. Russia also opened 'humanitarian corridors' for 'Ukrainians' to leave for Kiev, but these were often shot at by Azov militias who relied on the citizens as human shields. Similar claims are now made against Hamas, but are quite false, as I'll explore later; it's part of the Western allies play-book. Unlike Hamas in Gaza, the Azovs were unwelcome occupiers of Mariupol, and had only ruled the city by force and repression of dissent. By the time they took refuge in Azovstal they had made themselves enemies of the local community; it was a situation of mutual disdain. My leading illustration showing a heavily pregnant woman being carried from a maternity hospital in Mariupol illustrates this well; Western audiences may have been fooled by this propaganda stunt but locals knew the truth. The hospital was occupied by Ukrainian soldiers to be used as a safe base, while the pregnant women and patients were expelled and used as 'film extras'. Stories on the targeting of hospitals have the power to move public opinion in Western media, so may be exploited in many ways. Russian investigator Maxim Grigoriev had detailed many of the statements and testimonies of local residents, on how they were used as human shields in different ways, collected in interviews conducted once Mariupol had been liberated. The Azovs abused them sometimes simply by setting up machine gun posts on the upper floors of residential buildings, but also directly used residents as decoys or shields. Anyone who dared to resist, or gain the attention of media, risked being tortured or executed in their reign of terror, including long before April 2022. The AFU made such a habit of parking their tanks and weaponry amongst residential buildings that even Amnesty accused them of this crime. I examined this subject and the Ukrainian war crimes in a previous article, and in the context of Kiev's fabric of lies that covers them up. A pathological disdain for "Russians", so long inculcated as a part of the Ukrainian nationalist identity, was the necessary element of de-humanisation of the local population for their project. This disdain is evident amongst the Azov's supporters and relatives, for whom they were the "brave defenders of Mariupol":
Anyone who dares make a connection between these two fascist and racist disciplines risks abuse from all sides - yet the comparison is unavoidable if one looks at the ruthlessness and brutality of Israel's assault on its Gaza concentration camp. (As has been pointed out, it is not "the World's largest open prison" - as prisoners have rights to food and water, and are imprisoned for crimes they have committed.) Gaza bears a far closer resemblance to other concentration camps, and specifically to the Warsaw ghetto. It is one of few examples in history of an assault on an already captive population within a country under the control of the assaulter - one that controls and can limit or prevent access to all the essentials of life. Chris Hedges recently compared the siege of Gaza with that of Sarajevo, with which he was caught up as a journalist; his comparison only emphasised the differences however, remarking just how extreme was Israel's campaign against Palestinians in Gaza. It's worth quoting a couple of paragraphs here: "I don’t mean to minimize the horror of the siege of Sarajevo, which gives me nightmares nearly three decades later. But what we suffered – three to four hundred shells a day, four to five dead a day, and two dozen wounded a day - is a tiny fraction of the wholesale death and destruction in Gaza. The Israeli siege of Gaza more resembles the Wehrmacht’s assault on Stalingrad, where over 90 percent of the city’s buildings were destroyed, than Sarajevo. On Friday the Gaza Strip had all its communications severed. No Internet. No phone service. No electricity. Israel’s goal is the murder of tens, probably hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and the ethnic cleansing of those who survive into refugee camps in Egypt. It is an attempt by Israel to erase not only a people, but the idea of Palestine. It is a carbon copy of the massive campaigns of racialized slaughter by other settler colonial projects who believed that indiscriminate and wholesale violence could make the aspirations of an oppressed people, whose land they stole, go away. And like other perpetrators of genocide, Israel intends to keep it hidden." Chris Hedges might have noticed a contradiction in his current stand for Gaza and Palestine, as it now aligns him against his former paper the NYT and the Imperial narrative against Russia and the Resistance partners. Sarajevo and Srebrenica have notably adopted the same sort of publicity stunts as those of Kiev and Tel Aviv, along with a similar maintenance of their foundational myths - the 8000 victims of Srebrenica and the 1400 victims of Hamas are endlessly repeated despite being exaggerated or even fabricated.
Something noted by a number of commentators is the hypocrisy - if that is the right word - over Western governments' reaction to Russia's intervention in Ukraine, compared with that over Israel's superficially similar "intervention" in Gaza. A minister in Spain's government, Ione Belarra, made this point in calling on European governments to take a stand against Israel over its genocide in Palestine. Sadly her government has so far shown no sign of ending its support for the Zionist state, sending a frigate to the Eastern Mediterranean. Her appeal should however encourage more people already horrified by Israel's impunity for its crimes to make their voices heard by complicit governments. What she points out on the hypocrisy or duplicity of those leaders like Ursula von der Leyen is actually illusory, and this is the nub of the problem of the West's position on Israel. There may appear to be a parallel between Russia's supposed 'illegal invasion' of Ukraine, and Israel's blatantly illegal invasion of Gaza, with 30,000 tonnes of bombs to pave the way, but they are actually opposite; Von der Leyen's position is quite consistent. The NATO Empire and its forces always support their own, whether that is their government in Kiev, or their 'rebels' in Syria. While looking for links for this article, I came across this report from February 2020, just before COVID turned the world upside down. The demands and claims from the UN mirror closely the current claims from Israel, that the enemy is using hospitals and schools as bases and that this justifies targeting them despite endangering civilians. But in both cases the claims are false; the Syrian army never targeted hospitals and schools in its war against Western-backed terrorist groups, even when they set up their bases beneath hospitals as they did in Aleppo and Douma. See my photo below of the tunnel entrance below Douma hospital, used by Jaish al Islam and the White Helmets to transport fighters and weapons. Hamas' tunnels are much smaller but more extensive, and are not hidden beneath hospitals. But Israel targets the hospitals anyway along with ambulances and medics, with the pretence that it is aiming only to kill Hamas militants. It made no excuse recently for flattening several hectares of the Jadaliya refugee camp, killing and injuring hundreds of residents, on the basis that a single 'high-value target' was seen there. Or that's what they said. And while there may appear to be some slackening of support for Israel's assault from the UN and its leader Antonio Guterres, it continues to stop short of what is needed - an ultimatum like that delivered by Ione Belarra.
DM 9th November ’23