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Kyiv, Gaza and legitimate resistance

April 7, 2022 at 10:55 am

Ukrainian Viktoria Saidam (R), accompanied by her Palestinian husband Ibrahim Saidam, show their passports at their family home in the refugee camp of Bureij in the central Gaza Strip on March 22, 2022 [SAID KHATIB/AFP via Getty Images]

What is important is not how we die, but how we live. This well-known maxim is embodied in the people when they persist in resistance, unaware of the magnitude of the sacrifices they make at the altar of their freedom. The most prominent resistance images in that vein are without doubt those of the resistance of the Palestinian people, especially in the Gaza Strip. The circumstances are similar to those in different places and times, and are an inspiration to everyone who refuses to submit to tyranny.

The steadfastness seen in Gaza is being replicated in Kyiv, notwithstanding the different geopolitical and ideological dimensions of the conflict. When the Russian invasion of Ukraine began in February, most military analysts expected that it would be a crushing and decisive attack, given the comparative strength of the Russian and Ukrainian forces. Six weeks later it seems that the attack has lost momentum and the Russian forces are retreating on some fronts in the face of strong Ukrainian resistance.

Coverage of Ukraine Refugee crisis is 'racist' - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

Coverage of Ukraine Refugee crisis is ‘racist’ – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

Despite the enormous destructive power of the weapons used by the Russians, including hypersonic missiles, which have turned some Ukrainian cities into piles of ruins, the resistance has withstood the assault and the casualty toll among the attacking Russian forces is impressive. Media images show burned-out Russian army vehicles in the streets of Ukraine.

Military analysts lay emphasis on the overall Russian strategy, which depends among other things on the strength and intensity of the attack, regardless of the losses involved. This has been the way adopted by Moscow since the Second World War, when the Soviet Red Army launched a counterattack against the invading German forces and essentially turned the tide of the war.

Ukrainian resistance has broken the momentum of Russia’s invasion, and the plan to occupy Kyiv has been abandoned by Moscow, according to a Pentagon spokesman. Talks between the two countries have started in Istanbul and there are already indications that some progress is being made around the negotiating table.

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When comparing the Ukrainian resistance with the resistance in occupied Palestine, we can see that the Palestinian resistance groups can slow and even break the momentum of Israeli offensives every time they are launched against the people in Gaza. The Israeli armed forces have the most up to date weapons and equipment, and the world’s best technological capabilities backed by an intelligence system that is one of the most powerful in the region, if not in the world. And yet they have not been able to defeat the Palestinian resistance groups, which rely on their ingenuity, flexibility and manoeuvrability to counter Israeli firepower.

Most notably, the Palestinians use networks of tunnels as well as anti-tank missiles against the Israeli army, whose heavy armour can’t advance more than a few metres into Gaza. The resistance groups in the enclave also take the Israeli war back into Israel’s towns and cities, affecting every home and individual through the Palestinians’ use of their own rockets and missiles. Israeli military offensives against the Palestinians in Gaza are thus generally limited in what they achieve — if anything at all — and have to be judged as failures, despite their brutality.

One major difference between the resistance in Palestine and Ukraine is that the latter gets military, political and intelligence support from 27 European countries and three nuclear NATO powers: the US, France and Britain.

NATO has refused to provide Ukraine with aircraft and has not put troops on the ground in order to avoid a direct clash with Russia that could lead to World War Three. However, according to the statements of Pentagon officials and the EU’s Foreign Affairs and Security Policy chief Josep Borrell, NATO has provided Ukraine with weapons to counter the Russian forces.

In occupied Palestine, meanwhile, a full-scale siege is enforced by Israel and its allies — the US, France and Britain among them, as well as EU countries — on the Gaza Strip which prevents any military aid getting through to the legitimate resistance groups. The siege even prevents so-called “dual use materials” from being imported, so that everyday goods essential for the development of the enclave are banned.

Moreover, supposedly “brotherly” Arab countries have also banned the sending of any weapons in support of the Palestinian resistance. Unfortunately, in some Arab countries people who tried to “smuggle” weapons into Gaza have been tried and found guilty of aiding “terrorists”, despite the international legitimacy granted to resistance against military occupation.

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In terms of the level of support and resources available to the Palestinians and Ukrainians, therefore, it is obvious that the former outperform the latter in steadfastness and success in thwarting the plans of the invading and occupying forces.

International law is very clear in allowing people under occupation to resist using whatever means are at their disposal in order to protect themselves from colonisation and enslavement. This incontrovertible fact is ignored by the governments which find Ukrainian resistance acceptable and worthy of immense support, while also supporting the apartheid, colonial state of Israel’s illegitimate “right to self-defence” against the people whose land it occupies.

This article first appeared in Arabic in the Palestinian Information Centre on 6 April 2022

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.