UKRAINE military surrounds Donetsk – Rebels prepare for the fight




Fighting continues in the Donetsk and Lugansk Regions where, according to UN data, at least 1,129 people have been killed since April. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is urging for snap parliamentary elections in the war-torn country.

Tuesday, August 19

17:10 GMT:

Ukraine has banned 14 Russian television channels including Russia Today and Life News from broadcasting on cable networks in Ukraine, accusing them of spreading war propaganda, Ukrainian interior ministry aide Anton Gerashenko said on Tuesday.

The fourteen channels are banned temporarily for “broadcasting propaganda of war and violence,” Gerashenko said in a Facebook post. (Reuters)

12:20 GMT:

Artillery fire started early in the morning in the town of Makeevka, located to the east of Donetsk. Reuters reported residents as saying it was the first time there had been shelling in the area. The town’s railway station came under heavy fire, and most of the local residents have gone down to basements or shelters.

10:49 GMT:

The bodies of 15 refugees killed in the shelling of a convoy to the southeast of Lugansk on Monday morning have been identified, Ukraine’s Security Council said Tuesday, blaming militiamen for their deaths. The self-defense forces in Eastern Ukraine denied the accusations, saying that they have neither force nor the means to conduct such an attack. The prime minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic, Alexandr Zakharchenko, called the Kiev’s statement “a pure and simple fake”.

10:26 GMT:

Civilians were killed and injured as a result of shelling which nearly destroyed the central part of Lugansk on Tuesday night. No numbers are given in a message on the city council’s website, which cites reports of the city’s residents. It calls the situation in the town critical, as only the most essential products are on sale, and people face waiting in long lines to get bread. There has been no water or electricity, and mobile and landline phone lines have been down for 17 days. High temperatures may trigger infections in the city, due to a lack of fresh water and piles of garbage.

08:59 GMT:

Ukrainian troops have shelled the center of Lugansk, apparently aiming for the city council building, rebels reported. They also denied a report of gunfights in the city center which was voiced on Tuesday morning by a Ukrainian police official.

00:30 GMT:

Washington has recognized the need for Russian humanitarian aid in eastern Ukraine, according to comments by the US State Department spokesperson Marie Harf.

“We agree that the people of that region are in need of aid,” Harf said during a briefing on Monday, adding that US wants the contents of the aid convoys checked.

“We want to make sure this is actually aid, though. We understand there is an agreement that the aid will be inspected by Ukrainian border guards and customs officials before being transferred in batches to representatives of the ICRC [International Committee of the Red Cross].”

Monday, August 18

19:26 GMT:

The US State Department condemned the alleged shelling of a convoy in eastern Ukraine on Monday that killed dozens of people, but said it could not confirm who was responsible for the attack.

We strongly condemn the shelling and rocketing of a convoy that was bearing internally displaced persons in Lugansk and express our condolences to the families of the victims,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told a news briefing. “Sadly, they were trying to get away from the fighting and instead became victims of it.”

The Ukrainian government accused anti-Kiev rebels of targeting the convoy, which it said was bearing white flags. The rebels denied responsibility.

18:17 GMT:

The self-proclaimed People’s Republic of Donetsk has introduced the death penalty for the most grievous crimes, the republic’s press service said.

The regulations for military courts and the criminal code have been approved during the first meeting of the Presidium of the Council of Ministers of the People’s Republic of Donetsk.

The newly-applied two-level court system will “greatly facilitate the fight against looting and banditry,” the press service said.

However, Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Karaman said that the republic would take “the path of humanization of its the criminal code” after the war is over.

18:14 GMT:

The representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have delivered humanitarian aid to needy people in southeastern Ukraine, Andrey Lysenko, the spokesman for country’s National Security and Defense Council, said.

Andrey Lysenko, representative of the Information Center of the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council (RIA Novosti / Evgeny Kotenko)

Andrey Lysenko, representative of the Information Center of the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council (RIA Novosti / Evgeny Kotenko)


“The International Committee of the Red Cross has reported that humanitarian aid has already been delivered to 10 cities in the Donbass,” Lysenko said, without making clear if it was the Russian humanitarian cargo that he was talking about.

16:34 GMT:

The People’s Republic of Donetsk has denied an allegation by Kiev that the self-defense forces have opened fire at a column of refugees in eastern Ukraine, leading to numerous casualties.

“The reported assault on the column of refugees is disinformation. None of the refugee columns were fired at by the forces of the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk,”
said Aleksandr Zaharchenko, prime minister of the People’s Republic of Donetsk.

14:55 GMT:

Dozens of people, including women and children, were reportedly killed on Monday when a refugee convoy of buses was hit by rocket fire near the eastern city of Lugansk, a Ukrainian military spokesman said.

Ukraine has accused rebels of targeting the convoy, but the anti-Kiev forces deny responsibility.

“The rebels were expecting the convoy and destroyed it entirely. We haven’t been able to count the number of victims … dozens (were killed),” spokesman Andrey Lysenko said in a briefing to journalists. (Reuters)

Ukraine: Water supply cut in Donetsk as humanitarian crisis looms



09:34 GMT:

Kiev claims that the militia forces have attacked a refugee convoy in the Lugansk Region.

The column was transporting people from the towns of Khryaschevatoye and Novosventlovka on Monday morning when it was hit by intensive mortar and rocket artillery fire, military spokesman Anatoly Proshin told the media. He added that the Ukrainian military responded with artillery fire of their own.

Militia sources would not immediately comment on the information. The region has witnessed fierce fighting in the past several days.

08:53 GMT:

The EU and NATO will not be able to provide military aid to Ukraine, Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb told Yle television.

“Of course it’s not possible. Not from NATO because NATO only provides military assistance to its members, and that’s well known. And the EU doesn’t have the capacity to provide this kind of support,” he believes.

Stubb was commenting on a request voiced Sunday by Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Pavel Klimkin, who said Kiev would welcome military aid from NATO and the EU in an interview.

06:40 GMT:

Fighting in Ukraine close to the Russian border caused a wildfire, which threatened the Russian border checkpoint at Voloshino, the Russian Customs Service told ITAR-TASS. The fire almost ran out of control before firefighters could intervene, due to hot windy weather in the area.

Sunday, August 17

17:42 GMT:

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier warned the Ukrainian conflict could soon escalate into open warfare between Ukrainian and Russian forces in Berlin, Sunday.

He emphasised this must be avoided at all costs and underlined the importance of the central government and anti-Kiev forces reaching a credible ceasefire, pointing out that previous agreements have been violated.

Steinmeier met with his Russian, German, French and Ukrainian counterparts in the hope of developing a new “road map” on achieving peace and bringing stability to the country.

The myth of Hamas’ human shields


The day will come… because it’s not about vengeance; it’s about JUSTICE




On ‘Human Shielding’ in Gaza: The Israeli army has tried to justify striking civilian areas

All fighting within cities and all bombardments of urban spaces, even the most “precise and surgical”, is a potential death trap for civilians. Consequently, the permeation of war into cities inevitably transforms their inhabitants into potential human shields.

For Palestinians living in Gaza today, simply spending time in their own homes, frequenting a mosque, going to a hospital or to school has become a dangerous enterprise since any one of these architectural edifices can become at any moment a target. One can no longer safely assume that the existence of masses of human bodies – even the bodies of children – in civilian spaces can serve as defense of the weak against the lethal capacity of the hi-tech states.

But since hi-tech states can and do kill hundreds or thousands of civilians, they have to provide moral justification for their action in order to preserve their standing in the international arena; they have to demonstrate that they are protecting the principles of liberal democracy. It is precisely within this context that we should understand the series of posters recently disseminated by the Israeli military through its Twitter account, Facebook and blogs.

The poster “Where do Gaza Terrorists Hide Their Weapons” is a paradigmatic example, where the subtext does the speaking: Houses, mosques, schools, and hospitals are legitimate targets because they are presumed to be weapon depositories.

The IDF Answer:  Hamas’ favorite hiding spot: civilian buildings 6:42 PM - 15 Jul 2014

The IDF Answer: Hamas’ favorite hiding spot: civilian buildings
6:42 PM – 15 Jul 2014

This is also the message in “When Is A House a Home?” which simply zooms in on one of the images in the previous poster, showing how Palestinians presumably hide rockets in civilian homes.

IDFSpokesperson:  Infographic: In Gaza, when is a house a home, and when does it become a legitimate military target? 10:02 AM - 15 Jul 2014

Infographic: In Gaza, when is a house a home, and when does it become a legitimate military target?
10:02 AM – 15 Jul 2014

The logic is straightforward: insofar as Hamas hides weapons in houses (illegitimate), Israel can bomb them as if they were military targets (legitimate). Within this framework, a single function (hiding weapons) out of many existing functions (home, shelter, intimacy, etc) determines the status of an urban site (in our case the house), so that the edifice’s form loses its traditional signification.

The question “when does it become a legitimate military target?” is merely rhetorical. Its real meaning is: “All houses in Gaza are legitimate targets” since all houses are potentially non-homes.

Not unlike colonial as well as other vastly asymmetrical wars, Israel’s legitimization for its indiscriminate bombing is premised upon a profound moral disjuncture between Israelis and Palestinians. In the poster “Israel uses weapon to protect its civilians. Hamas uses civilians to protect its weapons”, Palestinians are depicted as barbarians who ignore the elementary grammar of international law.

@IDFSpokesperson Hamas puts Palestinian civilians in the line of fire. 11:42 AM - 12 Jul 2014

Hamas puts Palestinian civilians in the line of fire. 11:42 AM – 12 Jul 2014

 IDF     @IDFSpokesperson Hamas uses civilians as human shields. 10:47 AM - 11 Jul 2014

IDF @IDFSpokesperson
Hamas uses civilians as human shields.
10:47 AM – 11 Jul 2014

Israel’s warfare is, however, not only about the re-signification of architectural structures, but also about the transformation of human beings into collateral damage, subjects who can be killed without violating international law. This is the subtext of the poster featuring Israel’s Chief of Staff saying: “Even as we carry out strikes, we remember that there are civilians in Gaza. Hamas has turned them into hostages.”

Again, the logic is clear. All civilians in Gaza are being held hostage by Hamas, which is considered a war crime and a gross violation of international law governing armed conflict. This, then, provides legal and moral justification against the accusation that Israel is the one killing civilians. Presumed human rights violations carried out by Palestinians against Palestinians – taking hostages and human shielding – thus become the legitimization of lethal and indiscriminate violence on the part of the occupying force.

Hence, the use of human shields is not only a violation. In contemporary asymmetric urban wars, accusing the enemy of using human shields helps validate the claim that the death of “untargeted civilians” is merely collateral damage. When all civilians are potential human shields, when each and every civilian can become a hostage of the enemy, then all enemy civilians become killable.

In order for all this to be convincing, the Israeli military depicts the asymmetric context in which it unleashes its violence against a whole population as symmetric. This is carried out, for instance, through the poster “Some bomb shelters shelter people, some shelter bombs”. Here a radically disproportionate situation is presented as if it were balanced.

Tonight Israeli families huddle in their shelters as rockets fall across the country 9:52 PM - 10 Jul 2014

Tonight Israeli families huddle in their shelters as rockets fall across the country
9:52 PM – 10 Jul 2014


The residents of Gaza are bombed by cutting edge F-16 fighter jets and drones, yet they do not have bomb shelters, and they have nowhere to flee. Israel’s residents are bombed mostly by makeshift rockets, many of which have been intercepted by Iron Dome missiles. The majority of the population in Israel has access to shelters and can flee out of the rocket’s range.

These powerful images, spread by the Israeli military through social media, attempt to transform the very presence of civilians as suspect in the areas it bombards, regardless of the fact that the areas it bombs are urban centers.

The crux of the matter is that in the context of contemporary asymmetric warfare, the weak do not have many options. When there are no bomb shelters, people remain at home during extensive bombardment. And if, like in the case of the Palestinians in Gaza, fleeing is not an option – because all exits from the strip have been closed, or because the neighbour’s house is under the exact same threat as one’s own, or because one is already a refugee and does not want to become a refugee anew – staying put, which the high-tech states term “illegal human shields,” constitutes a form of resistance.

Neve Gordon