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Sunday, 18 January 2009

It's about more than white phosphorus in Gaza

Seems like it's finally over in Gaza. After bombing a hospital, several schools and a food warehouse. Over 300 children are dead and for what? Certainly not 'victory'.
Trying to hide a smile and a sense of self-satisfaction Prime Minister Ehud Olmert faced the cameras at the Defense Ministry and declared to the Israeli public, "We won."

But Hamas' gains cannot be ignored: It has won international legitimacy and sympathy, and its forces still control the Gaza Strip.
T'was weapons testing according to a Human Rights Watch investigator quoted in Haaretz (an Israeli newspaper).
Since the first day of the Israeli aerial attack, people have been giving exact descriptions of the side effects of the bombing, and claiming that Israel is using weapons and ammunition that they have not seen during the past eight years.

[Marc Garlasco, the HRW investigator] can only guess or make assumptions in some cases. But even from afar, he has no doubt: Israel is using white phosphorus bombs [the sort which hit the UN food and fuel warehouses]. That was immediately clear to him while he stood last week on a hill facing the Gaza Strip and observed the Israel Defense Forces' bombings for several hours.

The moment the bomb blows up and the phosphorus comes in contact with oxygen - it ignites. This is what creates the "fireworks" and billows of jellyfish-shaped smoke. The fallout covers a wide area and the danger of fires and harm to civilians is enormous. The phosphorus burns glass, and immediately ignites paper, trees, wood - anything that is dry. The burning wafers causes terrible injury to anyone who comes in contact with them. The irony is that tear gas is included in the Chemical Weapons Convention and is subject to all kinds of restrictions, whereas phosphorus is not.

Another new weapon that has forced itself upon Gazans is the GPS-guided mortar - a system equipped with satellite navigation, developed in Israel in late 2006-early 2007, in the wake of the Second Lebanon War. According to local military sources, it was this kind of mortar that missed its target by 30 meters and erroneously hit a United Nations Relief and Works Agency school last week; according to the UN report, 30 people were killed immediately and others died later of their injuries. "It really boggles my mind," Garlasco comments. "According to the literature, it has 3 meters' error - not 30." It is a mortar that is launched in an arc toward an unseen target, he explains, with the intention of being precise and to some extent minimize civilian casualties.

Garlasco says this is the first time the weapon has been used in any military conflict: "The Palestinians say, 'Oh, they use it on us, experiment with it for the Americans.' Experimenting has a different meaning for Americans. We think animal experimenting, but it is indeed a field test."

Only last September did the United States grant Israel's request to supply it with 1,000 bombs of a new type, the GBU-39 [aka DIME]. They arrived at the beginning of December, and inhabitants of Rafah have witnessed their use - without knowing what they were - since the first day of the aerial attacks on the tunnels there.
'Shake 'n' Bake'

Boeing makes them. It :
"Strikes a very small area, 10 to 20 meters, and the fire it ignites burns out very quickly; if it hits us now, we will die, but no one around us will be hurt. The problem is that when you are killed - you are ripped to shreds and there is nothing left."
In Al-Awda Hospital in the Jabalya refugee camp about 90 percent of the wounded were brought in with at least one limb missing. Is it the DIME that is causing the severe injuries being reported by the medical staff?

Another new weapon that he believes is now in use is the Spike:
"It is very new, [from] 2005-2006, a special missile that is made to make very high-speed turns, so if you have a target that is moving and running away from you, you can chase him with the weapon. It was developed by the U.S. Navy jointly with Rafael [the Israel Armament Development Authority]. Rafael is the manufacturer."
Also, the much quoted drones are an Israeli, world-leading 'product':
And America is learning a lot from it
Garlasco is not prepared to accept without question the Israeli claim that Hamas hides behind civilians and makes use of civilians.
Israelis are very quick to say they are doing it, but very short on proof. By keeping the independent people out, they leave doubt in people's minds.
It's worth noting the following: the Israeli Supreme Court has ruled against the use of Human Shields by the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) in 2005. This ruling was appealed.

And it's still happening: Israel Uses Gazans as Human Shields.

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