15 December 2023 in First Home, Military


Pope Francis, on 13 December[1] , wanted to mention Ukraine for the umpteenth time. And for the umpteenth time he wanted to specify that it is martyred – a concept he had already expressed on 6 December[2] and on Sunday 19 at the end of the Angelus prayer[3] , also mentioning Israel and Palestine: ‘Let us continue to pray for the martyred Ukraine, I see the flags here, and for the people of Palestine and Israel’. And a concept reiterated three days later, on the 22nd, naming[4] again also Israel and Palestine: “Let us not forget to persevere in prayer for those who suffer because of wars in so many parts of the world, especially for the dear populations of Ukraine – the martyred Ukraine – and of Israel and Palestine”.

Combination would have it that on 22 November a few hours earlier, the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine had released[5] the tally of civilians killed by the Russians in 21 months of war in Ukraine, which was invaded on 24 February last year, and that a few hours later, the Ministry of Health in Gaza in turn released[6] the tally of civilians killed in Gaza in one and a half months of war. Thus also allowing an immediate and up-to-date comparison to be made between Ukrainian and Palestinian civilian casualties in Gaza. With which comparison it is concluded beyond any doubt that the Gaza Strip is far more martyred than the ‘martyred Ukraine’.

The many videos and photos of the destruction caused by bombardment of various kinds, i.e. with planes, tanks, cannons, missiles, drones and whatnot, speak for themselves. And they demonstrate a very clear reality: In contrast to Ukraine and its cities, Gaza is a heath largely reduced to rubble. Strange, then, that Pope Francis never uses for Gaza, which deserves it so much more, the same adjective ‘martyred’ lavished over and over again for Ukraine. To be exact, at least 17 times on as many occasions last year and at least 14 on as many occasions this year. But the first time as early as 4 February 2015: ‘Martyred land’, the Ukrainian one.

If Francis had said that Gaza is also tormented who knows what would have been the reaction of the Assembly of Rabbis of Italy, already very harsh[7] only because in the private audience – I repeat: private – granted on Thursday 23 November to a dozen Palestinians, Francis defined the war that is reducing Gaza to rubble as “terrorism”. A private audience exactly like the one in which the pope in the same hours received a group of Israeli relatives of those kidnapped by Hamas in the terrible terrorist attack of 7 October.

The fact is that the Palestinian people no longer have any friends. The ties with Iran and the Islamic Brotherhood are too weak and uncertain, while throughout the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates and Egypt have steel agreements with Israel, and therefore regard the Gaza issue as an internal Israeli matter. From the Islamic community, therefore, no diplomatic, economic or military aid is to be expected[8] . This is why, in international propaganda, a death in Gaza is worth very little, even compared to a death in the war in Ukraine.

Washington, 13 November 2023: Rashida Tlaib, US Senator of Palestinian origin, protests in front of the Capitol together with many American Jewish rabbis[9]

Let us now turn to the figures of civilian casualties provided by the UN and Gaza: 1) – UN: “At least 10,000 civilians have been killed – including 560 children – and more than 18,500 have been injured since the beginning of the invasion in February 2022”; 2) – Gaza Ministry of Health: “In Gaza 14,532 people have died since 7 October, including more than 6,000 children and 4,000 women. 7,000 people are still missing’.

As you can see, there were almost 50% more Palestinian civilian casualties in a single month and a half of war than Ukrainian casualties in 11 months. To be exact, they were 7.3 times larger than the Ukrainian victims reaped by the Russians. And Palestinian children killed were almost 11 times as many as Ukrainian ones. If the Russians in Ukraine reaped civilian victims at the same rate as the Israelis in Gaza they would have had to kill more than 102,000 people. And of children they would have had to kill over 42,000. Without taking into account the 7,000 missing in Gaza, which if even ‘only’ half had died would make the massacre in Gaza even more appalling and that in Ukraine even smaller. In the meantime, as more weeks have passed since 7 October, the number of victims in Gaza has increased and not by a small amount, including children and even babies.

Let us immediately clear the field of an objection that has become almost compulsory, especially since US President Joe Biden himself declared[10] that he does not trust the figures provided by the Hamas Ministry of Health. Biden, however, was refuted[11] by Philippe Lazzarini, commissioner-general of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) As if that were not enough, Michael Spagat and Daniel Silverman, respectively an economist at Royal Holloway University in London and a political scientist at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburg, who specialise in counting the dead in wars, have conducted parallel research to that of the Israeli pacifist organisation B’Tselem, and their conclusion is very clear: “There is no good reason to doubt the credibility of the official numbers provided by Gaza”.

The new tragedy in Gaza is much bigger than the other two Israeli invasions, the one called Cast Lead, a name taken from a children’s nursery rhyme and lasting from 27 December 2008 to 18 January 2009, and the one called Margin of Protection, which lasted from 8 July to 26 August 2014, and was caused by Hamas’s terrible terrorist assault on Israeli locations with a death toll of many hundreds, officially more than 1,400[12] , and at least 250 men and women kidnapped as hostages, 30 of them children.

A sunset over the Gaza Strip[13]

Quite frankly, one cannot understand what such a blitz was aimed at, which doggedly targeted, massacred and kidnapped almost only civilians, including women and children, instead of only targeting the military, as happened and legitimately happens in every war of liberation also known as the Resistance. Resistance, as we know, existed towards the end of the Second World War in Italy as well, and yet it was never guilty of crimes against civilians, women and children, let alone rape. And speaking of Resistance, journalist Paola Caridi in her recent book ‘Hamas. Dalla Resistenza al regime’ (From Resistance to Regime), describes its involutional parabola well. The author has seen fit to update her book published in 2009 under the title ‘Hamas. What the radical Palestinian movement is and what it wants’.

It is impossible that Hamas did not take into account that Israel would react furiously, far harsher than the previous two times, when it invaded Gaza more in retaliation to the firing of the then ineffective Qassam rockets on the nearby towns of Sderot and Askelon. Cities targeted because they were Palestinian population centres before the Israeli military suddenly deported all their inhabitants to nearby Gaza and its environs in one day, and then changed their names: Najd became Sderot, and Al-Majdal became Askelon. Before the arrival of the Jews in the so-called Promised Land, Askelon was one of the five cities of the Pentapolis of the Philistines, also called peleset by the Egyptians at the time, hence the name Palestine and Palestine. The five cities were Ascalon, Ashdod, Ekron, Gat and Gaza.

It is impossible that Hamas did not put into account what actually happened, namely the almost total destruction of Gaza and the displacement of a large part of the population. And if it had not put it into account, it has made a very serious error of judgement, the likes of which it would have been ashamed to leave the scene. In any case, his action from 7 October to today, and predictably tomorrow as well, closely resembles masochism. Perhaps Hamas hoped that Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt, Jordan and maybe even Iraq and Turkey would move in its favour? With a war or at least just by recalling ambassadors to sever relations of any kind with Israel? Only drunks could hope for that. Jordan and Egypt have always looked down on the Palestinians. Jordan in September 1970 Arafat’s Palestinian refugees and settlers in its territory attacked them militarily and bloody so much so that that event is remembered as ‘Black September’[14] .

Ultimately, chatter aside, the Palestinians have been deluded and used by everyone, starting with the Soviet Union, which first armed them, and ending with Iran, which supports their armed groups, as cannon fodder for its own international policy, including its own relations, not among the best, with Israel. Hamas is well aware that its birth, its growth and its extremist radicalisation to the point of fanaticism on a religious basis – in fact, its attackers do not die shouting “Long live free Palestine”, but shouting “Allah is great!” – have gradually been favoured[15] by Israel in order to weaken first Yasser Arafat and his Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and then the actual Palestine National Authority (PNA).

The State of Israel is now there, even if only for 75 years, and – like it or not – therefore has a right to exist. Hoping to be able to destroy it is unrealistic, if only because to a threat to its survival Israel would respond with atomic bombs as any other state would, from China and Russia to the USA via France and England. The Palestinian people is one of the many peoples unfortunately defeated throughout history.

Palestinian Diaspora figures[16]

Denying one’s own defeat and hoping that it will be turned into victory by one’s own armed resistance, moreover fractionated, and/or by the intervention of the ‘Arab brothers’ or the ‘Muslim brothers’ is pure rhetoric and sadomasochistic delusion. The only way to stop the ethnic cleansing that Israel carries out in every way, including violent ones, and ignoring all UN warnings, the only way to prevent the total expulsion of the Palestinians from the territory of the State of Israel and from the Palestinian territories that it administers through military authorities, is the normalisation of relations with the various Arab and/or Muslim states that in fact surround it.

Of course, such normalisation will not repot to Palestine the Palestinians already expelled in their hundreds of thousands and still surviving in refugee camps or living in the diaspora. Nor will it return their confiscated property, starting with their homes and farmland and ending with their bank accounts, nor compensate them for the many abuses and other violence they have suffered. Nor will a Palestinian state worthy of the name, i.e. with its own armed forces, including its own air force and navy, ever be possible; instead, it will be more like some kind of bantustan, Indian reservation or protectorate.

In particular, a South African-type solution will never be possible, the only one capable of truly resolving the problems by putting Jews and Palestinians on an equal footing, with equal duties and rights, with Israel renouncing its definition as a ‘Jewish state’. A homeland, that is, for all the Jews of the world, with the right to ‘return’, that is, to emigrate to Israel, but not a homeland also for the Palestinians who live there, today almost 2 million Palestinian Israelis alone, that is, who live in the State of Israel and appear as Israelis in their identity documents.

The clash and religious hatreds between Judaism and Islam make it impossible for e.g. Marwan Barghouthi, a Palestinian leader in prison since 2002, to become president of Israel, just as in South Africa, in order to put an end to the long and bloody revolt of the Africans, at one point they had the courage to appoint the rebel leader Nelson Mandela, in prison for 27 years, as president.

In South Africa, the clash was racial political, but not religious. However, the normalisation of relations between Israel and the Arab and Muslim states of the Middle East would at least put an end to ethnic cleansing, to the Israeli interpretation of convenience of the Oslo Accords, an interpretation that has endorsed the continuous theft of land by settlers, by now in the West Bank, that is in the Territories, more than 500,000. The normalisation of relations would eliminate the Wall, which scientifically divides not only the Palestinians from the Israelis, but also and above all the areas inhabited by Palestinians from each other.

The Greater Israel promised to Abraham[17]

Finally, the normalisation in question would put an end to the desire of a not inconsiderable Israeli political and religious component to return to the mythical Greater Israel. Which historically has never existed, but in the bible (in Genesis 15:18-21) God promises it to Abraham’s descendants as the territory stretching “from the Nile to the Euphrates”: that is to say, a territory that in addition to present-day Israel includes the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and almost all of Egypt and Syria.

We now come to the ‘tormented Ukraine’.

Its much lower number of civilian casualties and destruction by bombing is due to two very specific reasons: like it or not, and it is certainly not fashionable or pleasant to say so because one is immediately accused of being ‘Putinist’ or even ‘Putin’s grandchildren’, Russia officially intervened in Ukraine to protect the Russian-speaking population subjected to eight years of abuse and in the Donbass also to armed attacks. The official explanation may be pure propaganda and, as is always the case, is likely to conceal real motives and interests of an entirely different nature, but it holds up well.

The Russian-speaking population is indeed a minority in the whole of Ukraine, but according to the 2001 census it is a robust 30% of the total[18] . And it is instead in a large majority in the eastern Donbass, where the two small ‘people’s republics’ of Donetsk and Luhansk were born in 2014, for Russia until the invasion NOT separatist, but only autonomist (like in Italy Alto Adige, Valle D’Aosta, Sicily and Sardinia). And it is in an even larger majority in the autonomous republic of Crimea, whose parliament in 2014 decided, also on the basis of a popular referendum, to return to the Russian Federation by seceding from Ukraine. To which Ukraine had been ‘given’ by Ukrainian Nikita Khrushchev two years after succeeding Stalin in 1951 in the leadership of what was the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, better known by its acronym USSR.

It is therefore obvious that Russia is trying to avoid as much damage as possible to the Russian-speaking population, which feels Russian rather than Ukrainian, even in the rest of Ukraine. Israel, on the other hand, has no such problems in Gaza. Since the pro-Russian president Victor Janukovič was replaced by street riots in 2014 with the pro-EU and pro-NATO tycoon Petro Poroshenko, the Russian-speaking population has been subjected to harassment and discrimination of various kinds: from the[19] ban on the use of the Russian language in politics and public administration to the drastic reduction of its teaching in schools, from the prohibition to import books written in Russian to the siege of the eastern Donbass by mainly private militias. Private militias such as the infamous Azov, the lesser-known Pravyj Sector (in Italian, Settore Destro), Battalion 206, and others set up by Poroshenko and financed[20] mainly by another tycoon: Ihor Kolomoisky, who is also Zelensky’s financier and his television publisher as well as the owner of Ukraine’s first bank, airlines, television channels, metallurgical industries and the Dnipro FC football team.

Poroshenko for his part[21] , as well as being nicknamed The Chocolate King because of the mountain of money he makes producing sweets, also owns several factories producing cars, buses, armoured vehicles and weapons[22] , he also owns the Lenins’ka Kuznja shipyard, the TV channel Kanal 5 and the magazine Korrespondent. In total, the civil war is estimated to have resulted in more than 40,000 deaths, the vast majority in the Russian-speaking population of Luhansk’s Donetsk.

April 2014: citizens of Russian origin protest in Luhansk against Ukrainianisation laws[23]

The official motivation of having to defend the Russian-speaking minority, however, risks being used by Russia to invade other neighbouring states also inhabited by not insignificant Russian-speaking minorities. who feel Russian tout court. In Moldova, for example, there is Transnistria, a small de facto independent Russian-speaking state, but, like the two small former Ukrainian ‘people’s republics’ of Donetsk and Luhansk, not recognised by UN member states because they consider it part of Moldova.

The other reason for the scarcity of civilian casualties in Ukraine – always too many in any war anyway – is that, contrary to what has been made to believe since before the invasion, Russia never intended to conquer the whole of Ukraine. This claim is DEMONSTRATED by the numbers released at the time by the US itself. Russia did in fact invade Ukraine, which in the census five years ago (2018) had a population of 42,322,028, with an army of more or less 160,000 men, increased to 300,000 and with another 200,000 ready for a ‘second invasion’, which however did not take place, if anything there was the replacement as and when of losses[24] .

It is customary to say that Russia invaded with an inadequate army because it was counting on a coup d’état by the armed forces, the leadership of which had been bribed outright, i.e. bought with big money. A coup that would have changed the government in Kiev. But there is no proof of this claim, nor any evidence to support it. Let us bear in mind that Zelensky dismissed not only a whole series of important civilian leaders for corruption, but also a whole series of high-ranking military officers. None of whom has been accused of selling out to the Russians in order to stage a coup.

In 2010, the book ‘Labyrinth Iran – Hypotheses of Peace and War’ was published[25] , which outlined the nine scenarios presented to the White House when President Obama was President by six experts from the think-tank Saban Center for Middle East Policy[26] one of the best in the United States, to get out of the labyrinth of politics with Iran once and for all. The Saban Center is an offshoot of the prestigious Brookings Institution think tank. The scenarios put forward by the six experts ranged from a military invasion to the signing of a solid and lasting peace treaty, from a classic coup d’état to the subjugation of minorities to break up the country and bring down its political regime.

The six authors of the Saban Center’s report to the White House have all held positions of responsibility, some in the State Department, some in the National Security Council, some in the CIA and in the US actions in Iraq, Korea, Pakistan and Afghanistan, which famously resulted in wars and the like. Neither is there a former ambassador to Israel who became personal advisor to President Clinton, such as Martin Yndik, nor a member of President Obama’s cabinet staff, such as Suzanne Maloney.

The six experts in question also learnt from their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan, which they described as failures because they did not support the required number of men. The six had warned Obama that in order to invade Iran or any other country and somehow manage to ‘pacify’ it, i.e. keep it under control, one needed at least one man in uniform for every 20 inhabitants: thus an eventual invasion of Iran, a country with almost 80 million inhabitants at the time, would need an army of almost 4 million men, adequately armed. Which means that to invade the Ukraine with the intention of conquering it and keeping it under control would require an army of over 2 million soldiers: that is, an army 12.5 times larger than the one with which Russia carried out the invasion and 6.6 times larger than the one that gradually took over after the invasion.

POST SCRIPTUM – All this, in my opinion, shows that Biden’s assertion[27] that if Russia wins ‘after Ukraine it may not stop and threaten our NATO allies’, starting with Poland, has no real basis.


[1] https://www.vaticannews.va/it/papa/news/2023-12/papa-francesco-udienza-generale-appello-pace-terrasanta-ucraina.html

[2] https://www.agensir.it/quotidiano/2023/12/6/polonia-domenica-si-celebra-la-giornata-della-preghiera-e-dellaiuto-materiale-per-la-chiesa-dellest-il-ringraziamento-del-papa/

[3] https://www.google.it/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=&ved=2ahUKEwjYmvbrvP6CAxXjU6QEHczGC4EQFnoECA0QAw&url=https%3A%2F%2Fpress.vatican.va%2Fcontent%2Fsalastampa%2Fit%2Fbollettino%2Fpubblico%2F2023%2F11%2F19%2F0810%2F01764.html%23%3A~%3Atext%3DPrego%2520perch%25C3%25A9%2520non%2520si%2520scoraggi%2CCi%2520vuole%2520buona%2520volont%25C3%25A0.&usg=AOvVaw22d_F6BBG1KJ7pnFkVe5z5&opi=89978449

[4] https://www.agi.it/estero/news/2023-11-22/papa-incontra-familiari-ostaggi-israeliani-palestinesi-24091158/#:~:text=AGI%20%2D%20%22Let’s%20not%20forget%20to%20persist,%20at%20the%20end%20of%27General%20Hearing

[5] https://www.ansa.it/amp/sito/notizie/mondo/2023/11/21/onu-almeno-10mila-civili-morti-in-ucraina-da-inizio-guerra_29b71bb0-e4f9-45d5-bc42-ab3c93e24787.html

[6] https://www.lapresse.it/ultima-ora/2023/11/22/medioriente-autorita-gaza-oltre-14-500-morti-da-inizio-guerra/#:~:text=Milano%2C%2022%20nov.,people%20who%20disappeared%20are%20about%207,000

[7] https://www.avvenire.it/chiesa/pagine/parolin-nella-guerra-in-medio-oriente-il-papa-vicino-alle-sofferenze-di-tutti

[8] https://theglobalpitch.eu/2021/06/06/how-egypt-and-israel-are-destroying-palestine/ ; https://theglobalpitch.eu/2022/06/10/palestine-where-every-day-cain-returns/ ; https://theglobalpitch.eu/2023/11/08/netanyahu-and-the-dream-of-the-big-bomb/

[9] https://www.today.it/video/usa-rashida-tlaib-con-i-rabbini-al-campidoglio-stop-guerra-a-gaza-82yiw.askanews.html

[10] https://www.ansa.it/sito/notizie/mondo/mediooriente/2023/10/25/biden-non-mi-fido-del-numero-dei-morti-fornito-dai-palestinesi_9f34098f-ca3e-4ff1-92bd-33a3db2ec221.html

[11] https://www.ansa.it/sito/notizie/mondo/2023/10/27/capo-unrwa-replica-a-biden-cifre-su-morti-a-gaza-credibili_e15cd84f-92d9-4ef1-a808-80f1f85ddee0.html

[12] https://www.ansa.it/sito/notizie/mondo/2023/10/15/oltre-1.400-i-morti-in-israele-per-lattacco-di-hamas_7c370418-c9ed-4203-909b-8407c0adc721.html

[13] https://www.versobooks.com/en-gb/blogs/news/gaza-one-month-later-an-interview-with-norman-finkelstein-and-mouin-rabbani

[14] https://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/settembre-nero_(Dictionary-of-History)/

[15] https://www.lindipendente.online/2023/11/10/come-israele-ha-agevolato-e-finanziato-lascesa-di-hamas/

[16] https://mondediplo.com/maps/refugeesdiasporapaldpl2000

[17] http://www.luzappy.eu/giudeofobia/storia_ebrei.htm

[18] https://www.farodiroma.it/letnocidio-della-minoranza-russa-in-ucraina-procede-a-tappe-forzate-mentre-i-paesi-nato-si-voltano-dallaltra-parte-v-volcic/

[19] https://www.balcanicaucaso.org/aree/Ucraina/Ucraina-la-nuova-legge-sulla-lingua-ultimo-atto-di-Porosenko-194879

[20] https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/3/1/who-are-the-azov-regiment

[21] https://www.icct.nl/publication/forgotten-front-dutch-fighters-ukraine

[22] https://www.ilfattoquotidiano.it/2014/05/26/ucraina-il-nuovo-presidente-e-petro-poroshenko-loligarca-trasformista-re-del-cioccolato/1000350/

[23] https://www.rferl.org/a/ukraine-donetsk-government-buildings-stormed/25323219.html

[24] https://www.corriere.it/esteri/23_febbraio_02/russia-trecentomila-soldati-seconda-invasione-5e44432c-a333-11ed-8688-ef37c5959b22.shtml

[25] http://www.elliotedizioni.com/prodotto/labirinto-iran/

[26] https://www.brookings.edu/centers/center-for-middle-east-policy/

[27] https://www.ansa.it/sito/notizie/mondo/2023/12/06/ucraina-biden-se-putin-vince-si-rischia-coinvolgimento-truppe-usa_981e7f33-40be-4aa1-90a7-52c96ee7c154.html

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