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I know this has been diaried over and over again, but this video really hammers it home.
The use of white phosphrous, whether it's in Fallujah, Gaza, or in shells by Hamas is a War Crime.

It's now totally clear Israel is using white phosphorous as a weapon.

Video showing injuries consistent with the use of white phosporous shells has been filmed inside hospitals treating Palestinian wounded in Gaza City.

Contact with the shell remnants causes severe burns, sometimes burning the skin to the bone, consistent with descriptions by Ahmed Almi, an Egyptian doctor at the al-Nasser hospital in Khan Younis.

I've gotten emails from friends who have described the use of white phosphorous as pervasive, and it seems as though WP shells were used in the attack that burned the UN building yesterday.

The Israeli military has denied using white phosphorus during the assault on Gaza, but aid agencies say they have no doubt it has been used.

"It is an absolute certainty," said Marc Garlasco, a senior military analyst at Human Rights Watch. He had seen
Israeli artillery fire white phosphorous shells at Gaza City, Garlasco said.

I have actually met and talked with Marc Garlasco, and I have the utmost faith that he is correct.

The use of white phosphorus as a weapon – as opposed to its use as an obscurant and infrared blocking smoke screen – is banned by the UN's third convention on conventional weapons, which covers the use of incendiary devices. Though Israel is not a signatory to the convention, its military manuals reflect the convention's restrictions on using white phosphorus.

It's all but certain that Israel is targeting civilians with chemical weapons, and equally deplorably, so did Hamas on Wednesday. It's clear under the law that there is a distinction in the uses of white phosphorous, but given the immense lung damage it can cause, perhaps the international community should revisit the third convention and totally outlaw the use of white phosphorous.

We are now in the third week of fighting. Some of my best friends in Israel still can't go to school in Be'er Sheva, and civilians are still being targeted in Gaza. It's clear that Hamas, despite taking heavy losses, will not give up, and indeed has no reason to at this point. Equally, it's obvious that the carnage will continue until at least Monday, and even then, it may not fully subside until the Israeli elections are over.
Then we are left with the enormous problem of either a Likud government, or a totally discredited Livni in the eyes of the international community. Equally problematic is the implosion of Arab support for Obama, and Mahmoud Abass' quisling government that has no credibility.

All of these political questions aside, on a human level we really need another picture of a girl, her body on fire from napalm, to realize chemical weapons illegal and immoral, no matter who does it? I thought we had learned some lessons in Vietnam about targeting civilians.

Originally posted to Alkibiades on Fri Jan 16, 2009 at 08:26 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Sorry for the sensationalist title (29+ / 0-)

    Sometimes it is appropriate though. I thought I might throw up at the doctor's descriptions of what white phosphorous does to the human body.

  •  Where's the proof (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    heathlander, deadatom, NY brit expat

    of Hamas firing WP into Israel? Or don't you need such?

    Israel out of Palestine!

    by high5 on Fri Jan 16, 2009 at 08:34:58 AM PST

  •  If we'd learned anything from VietNam (4+ / 0-)

    we wouldn't be in Iraq.

    I doubt things improve come Tuesday either.  Obama won't take a strong enough stand to matter one way or another.  He'll muddle along so that US remains a part of the problem instead of a solution.  Because as much as I have supported him, I doubt he has the will or political capital to tell the Israelis they have crossed a humanitarian line that makes them as much a pariah in international affairs as anything George Bush has done.   Hamas is not less wrong than they ever were, but the Israelis have made themselves more wrong.  

  •  This diary assumes that Israel is using white (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Scipio, BardoOne

    phosphorus as an anti-personnel weapon.  That's not the case, unless you want to believe that the IDF command are animals.   White phosphorus is commonly used for battle theatre illumination and as an obscurant (smoke screen).  Shells which emit white phosphorus flares on small parachutes are what you are seing over Gaza.  They can burn, and they smoke, but they are not considered to be chemical weapons when used in that fashion.  

    Having credibility when making an argument is the straightest path to persuasion.

    by SpamNunn on Fri Jan 16, 2009 at 08:36:14 AM PST

    •   So you're going to argue... (8+ / 0-)

      ... that the primary use was not anti-personnel, but hey, there's collateral damage, but that doesn't count, because it wasn't the original intent?

      Someone call the girl police and file a report...

      by Page van der Linden on Fri Jan 16, 2009 at 08:39:46 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  If the IDF dropped a pallet of MRE's on a (0+ / 0-)

        family of Gazans and killed them, by accident, would it make that humanitarian relief a weapon?  I think not.  Intent is everything, so that wouldn't count, in my opinion.  

        War is dirty business.  Innocent people die in every war.  That's why this conflict has to end.    

        Having credibility when making an argument is the straightest path to persuasion.

        by SpamNunn on Fri Jan 16, 2009 at 08:43:58 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Clearly, though... (5+ / 0-)

          ... you're fully justifying the Palestinian civilian deaths?

          "War is hell, people die, no big deal."


          Someone call the girl police and file a report...

          by Page van der Linden on Fri Jan 16, 2009 at 08:45:11 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Absolutely not. You don't know me, at all. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Why would you assume that?  My point is that you can't limit the destructive effects of war.  When a war is on, innocent people will die. That's a given.

            No one's death is "justified" in a war.  War is rarely, if ever, "justifiable".  I do believe that, when wars are fought, it is incumbent upon civilized nations to do their best to limit "collateral damage" without hindering their ability to bring enough destructive power to bear to end a war swiftly.   After all, the purpose of going to war is to obtain your objective (win), after you have exhausted all other available methods to achieve that objective.

            Having credibility when making an argument is the straightest path to persuasion.

            by SpamNunn on Fri Jan 16, 2009 at 08:52:59 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  No need to "assume" anything (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              capelza, mango

              your pathetic apologetics here say it all. That innocent people die in war doesn't mean that in war any action is permissable. The whole raison d'etre of international humanitarian law is precisely to limit what combatants are permitted do. For example, it is illegitimate to bomb clinics, hospitals, ambulances, clearly marked UN facilities, apartment blocks, residential houses, apartment blocks, civil police stations, government civil infrastructure, schools and cemetaries. To bomb such targets deliberately is a war crime, and to do so systematically on a large scale is a crime against humanity.

              •  It's war. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                War sucks.
                These are the ways that this particular war sucks.

                War sucks.

                Proud member of the Cult of Issues and Substance!

                by Fabian on Fri Jan 16, 2009 at 10:14:53 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  No (0+ / 0-)

                  what "sucks" is that Israel is deliberately massacring civilians with the decisive support of a government that is at least theoretically under the control of American citizens, and all you can do is throw up your hands and offer pseudo-profundities like "war sucks".

                  •  It's war. (0+ / 0-)

                    War sucks.

                    What more do you want me to say?  It's not profound.  It's the obvious truth.  

                    Proud member of the Cult of Issues and Substance!

                    by Fabian on Fri Jan 16, 2009 at 11:35:15 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Or I could do what I am supposed to (0+ / 0-)

                      which is to jump all over those horrible terrible people who do all those horrible terrible things!

                      Please.  Tell me how I should feel and how I should react so I can be a good sheeple.  

                      Proud member of the Cult of Issues and Substance!

                      by Fabian on Fri Jan 16, 2009 at 12:07:30 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  I'm not going to "tell" you (0+ / 0-)

                        how to react to a the deliberate slaughter of hundreds of civilians, including hundreds of children, with missiles, tank shells and white phosphorus.

                        The massacres are able to take place in large part because your government provides Israel with military and diplomatic support. Unlike Palestinians, who must risk being killed, tortured or wounded in order to resist Israeli occupation, all you have to do is go on a few protests and pressure your representatives to change US policy towards Israel.

                        If, despite this, all you can muster up is a resigned shrug accompanied by mindless ridicule of those "sheeple" who do give a shit and who are trying to bring the war crimes to an end, there's really little else to say.

      •  I agree. They need these smoke screens (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        capelza, Balam, NY brit expat

        when they are shelling areas?  I am not there, but somehow I doubt they are creating smokescreens so they can safely move up ( or wihtdraw) their troops in these neighborhoods.   If you are using rockets to blow things up, why do you need a smokescreen?  To keep a guy on the ground with a handgun from shooting your rocket out of the sky?

        Knowing the reasonably forseeable results of your actions and being held accountable for them is pretty typical.  The Israelis are using weapons that will burn whoever happens to be near by, regardless of the purpose stated on the manufacturer's product page.  They should be held responsible for the outcome.

    •  Information on the type of ammo at issue. (0+ / 0-)

      The M825 WP projectile is an FA-delivered 155-mm base-ejection projectile designed to produce a smoke screen on the ground for a duration of 5 to 15 minutes. It consists of two major components--the projectile carrier and the payload. The projectile carrier delivers the payload to the target. The payload consists of 116 WP-saturated felt wedges. The smoke screen is produced when a predetermined fuze action causes ejection of the payload from the projectile. After ejection, the WP-saturated felt wedges in the payload fall to the ground in an elliptical pattern. Each wedge then becomes a point or source of smoke. The M825 is ballistically similar to the M483A1 (DPICM) family of projectiles.

      Having credibility when making an argument is the straightest path to persuasion.

      by SpamNunn on Fri Jan 16, 2009 at 08:40:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Damn well better hope (6+ / 0-)

        There are no people under those wedges...
        I do think that it is valid to question whether Israel is using white phosphorous as an anti-personnel weapon, given its pervasive use in heavily civilian areas in which collateral damage should be expected. And even if there intention is not to use it as an AP weapon, excessive collateral damage is still illegal.

        •  Fair point. It is also illegal to use (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          civilian, hospitals, schools and mosques as shields for offensive operations.  Funny how the Hamas command structure exhorts the people to rise up, while hunkering down in bunkers in residential areas and then using the "collateral damage" to incite further hatred.   A vicious cycle, but a familiar one.  

          Having credibility when making an argument is the straightest path to persuasion.

          by SpamNunn on Fri Jan 16, 2009 at 08:47:28 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Hamas is not a country, it is a (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            terror organization and a democratically elected political party. Their actions are not comparable to the actions of the Nation State of Israel.

            Why has Israel not poured resources into Gaza to upgrade water, electric, roads, schools, hospitals, any number of other things. Israel does nothing but harden the hearts of the Palestinians, when they could be winning hearts and minds.

            It seems that another generation of anti-Israel is what the government decides is politically prudent at this time. Only their god knows why.

            It is  easier to make friends then kill all your enemies.

          •  i'm not sure if you caught this, but (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            palestine is not a nation, and has no army.  the militant part of hamas is a militia, and as such they have no army bases.  if they're using hospitals and schools as shields for offensive operations that's fucked up.  i haven't seen evidence (outside of IDF reports, which are sometimes even contradicted by other IDF reports) that they are doing so in this conflict.  however, i see no way how hamas in gaza has any choice but to organize in houses and mosques, since they have nothing else and nowhere else to go.

            now that i've said that, the tactics of the militant wing of hamas are still reprehensible.  unfortunately, i have no idea what else they can do, since the people with the power consider them illegitimate, and will not bargain with them under any circumstances other than a bargain for a cease-fire.  it's hard to go for a diplomatic solution when yr democratically elected government is not recognized by the country blockading you.

            i don't want no peace, gimme equal rights and justice.

            by keonhp on Fri Jan 16, 2009 at 10:34:54 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  No way Spam. Pull head out of sand pls! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      capelza, mango, NY brit expat

      Look at the videos!  Many, many, shells that are bursting high in the air into multiple white hot projectiles that fall fast (ie. NOT on parachutes) to the ground.  

      In some shots you can see the projectiles bounce off the ground before settling into the thick white smoke they produce.  An item on a parachute will not bounce like that, period.  That is a law of physics, not so easily broken as those of war.

      Seeing the footage for the first time, before the reports of phosphorous use, made me suspicious immediately: cluster bombs or gas attack?  The "assumption" that it is white phosphorous is reasonable, and with reports from the ground consistent with such an attack, it is no longer just an assumption.

      And really, what need is there for illumination in the middle of the day?

      Get real!  This is a war crime, one of many being perpetrated by the IDF.  It is not a case of wanting to believe so and so are animals, we are all (scientifically speaking) animals.  It is just that some of us are able to act without the constraints we associate with being human/humane.

    •  The reason that white phosphorous should not be (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      capelza, esquimaux, Balam

      allowed for use in heavily populated areas is that the stuff doesn't stop burning, it burns flesh to the bone, it destroys homes and infrastructure. Since it was used in Beit Lahiya and Gaza City (among other places), it is rather strange to think that you could hide infantry and tank movements in the middle of a city. Moreover, it was fired from above by helicopters.

    •  According to UN officials (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      slapshoe, capelza, mango

      Israel lobbed six white phosphorus shells at a UN compound in Gaza City. It has also been reported that white phopshorus was used against the Al Quds hospital. A hospital.

      For over a week now medics have been reporting "overwhelming" (ACT) numbers of injured people in hospitals suffering from "shocking" burns. Israel has been documented using "dozens" (HRW) of white phosphorus shells in civilian areas.

      To continue to claim that this is accidental is beyond a joke. It's deliberate, and the people responsible for it are indeed vile war criminals.

  •  it's amazing to me. The oppressed become the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    oppressor.  But I don't even think I mean it like that.  I think of the NAZI, and the atrocities they performed, not only on Jewish people. I think of the help and 'appeasement' the Nazi's had.

    I really don't believe the leadership is all that concerned about humanity.  There is a goal and an aim.  Behind this act lots of other things can be going on.  A larger plan.  this is so like the Armenian holocaust where nations sit idly by, like Nazi Germany where powers know and sit idly by, and now this.  there is something bigger behind this.

    You never find yourself until you face the truth.

    by publicv on Fri Jan 16, 2009 at 08:45:14 AM PST

    •  The first thing that came to mind after (6+ / 0-)

      reading this,

      there is something bigger behind this.


      was this:

      Yes there is, and it is called The United States of America.  Without us, Israel would not be doing what they are doing.


      If you can't fix it with a hammer, then you've got an electrical problem.

      by panicbean on Fri Jan 16, 2009 at 08:53:05 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  yeah, I know, and possibly leadership (0+ / 0-)

        from other countries, but what is the reason or end?

        You never find yourself until you face the truth.

        by publicv on Fri Jan 16, 2009 at 08:57:39 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It comes down to religion, as best I can (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mango, publicv

          figure out. They have democracy, now they gots to have religion, but only christianity will do, none of that brown skinned muslin stuff.

          (Funny how google wants me to capitalize the word christianity.)  Really????

          If you can't fix it with a hammer, then you've got an electrical problem.

          by panicbean on Fri Jan 16, 2009 at 09:05:57 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Israel is/was our strongest ally (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          capelza, mango, publicv

          in the Mid East.  It's unlikely that we can replace them with any other country unless we pulled off an amazing political coup and made Iran our bestest friends.  (Don't laugh - Iran has a lot of clout in the region and is incredibly stable compared to most of the governments/nations in the region.)

          Proud member of the Cult of Issues and Substance!

          by Fabian on Fri Jan 16, 2009 at 10:20:31 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

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