Saturday, January 17, 2009

COMMENT: Amira Hass on Israel and HAMAS weapons

Is Israel using illegal weapons in its bombardment of Gaza? Amira Hass, an award-winning Israeli journalist examines this question in a recent report for Haaretz.
Hass begins by painting a picture eerily familiar to those accustomed (as Hass is) to seeing Israel's bombardment of Palestinian territories.

The earth shaking under your feet, clouds of choking smoke, explosions like a fireworks display, bombs bursting into all-consuming flames that cannot be extinguished with water, mushroom clouds of pinkish-red smoke, suffocating gas, harsh burns on the skin, extraordinary maimed live and dead bodies.
All of this is being caused by the bombs Israel is dropping on the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip, according to reports and testimonies from there.
This kind of bombardment has been going on for years. Hass has witnessed it and has been writing about it for years. She has spoken to both Palestinian and Israeli authorities, NGO's and human rights groups, not to mention ordinary citizens. But there is something new about the most recent bombardment:
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.

Furthermore, the kinds of grave injuries doctors at hospitals in the Strip have reported are providing yet another explanation for the overwhelming dread inhabitants are experiencing in any case.
Enter Mark Galasco, a senior military analyst from Human Rights Watch. Galasco wants to get to the bottom of allegations against Israel. he wants to see for himself. He wants to determine what weapons have been used by Israel, and whether they are illegal. Israel, of course, is cooperating completely, confident that it will be exonerated.
The American-born Garlasco has not been permitted to enter Gaza - as is also the case with people from other human rights organizations and foreign journalists. Therefore, he says, since he is unable to examine actual remnants of the explosives and see the wreckage with his own eyes, he can only guess or make assumptions in some cases. But even from afar, he has no doubt: Israel is using white phosphorus bombs. 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.
So is there anything wrong with using white phosphorus in battle? What are the effects of white phosphorus on civilians? And where did Israel get this stuff from?
The use of white phosphorus is permitted on the battlefield, explains Garlasco, but the side effects on humans and the environment are severe and highly dangerous. The statement notes that the "potential for harm to civilians is magnified by Gaza's high population density, among the highest in the world."

The fireworks-like explosions, the thick smoke, suffocating gas, and flames that are not extinguished by water, but rather are heightened by it - all of these are characteristic of the white phosphorus bombs the IDF is using. Garlasco believes the decision to make such extensive use of these bombs, manufactured by America's General Dynamics Corporation, stems from conclusions drawn from the Second Lebanon War, in which the IDF lost many tanks.

"The phosphorus bombs create a thick smokescreen and if Hamas has an anti-tank rocket, the smoke prevents the rocket from tracking the tank," he explains. There are two ways to use the bombs: The first is to impact them on the ground, in which case the resulting thick smokescreen covers a limited area; the second way is an airburst of a bomb, which contains 116 wafers doused in phosphorus. 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.

And in the meantime, in the hospitals in Gaza there are people lying in beds - among them many children - whose severe injuries and burns have appalled the medical teams.
But in case you thought HAMAS was innocent and spotless in all this, think again. HAMAS doesn't seem to care much for civilians either. It also has some very strange views on international law.
Garlasco and Human Rights Watch also examine the other side, and he says, "We believe that the Grad and Qassam are illegal weapons because they are not accurate enough to be used in this situation." He adds that Hamas makes frequent use of land mines and explosive charges that are liable to injure civilians.

However, because he and his fellow experts can't go into Gaza, "We don't know what the extent of any [Palestinian] civilian casualties is because of Hamas - whether they are shooting soldiers and their bullets end up killing civilians, or whether their anti-tank missiles miss an Israeli tank and hit a house. We don't know."

In 2005, Garlasco met with a political representative of Hamas and told him that use of Grads is a contravention of the Geneva Convention. The reply he got from the Hamas man was: "'All Israelis are military.' And I explained to them that their reading of international law is wrong." It is amazing, he adds, that the Palestinians can manufacture the Qassams under the conditions in Gaza. The Grad, however, "is a real military weapon, three meters long. It has a significant warhead. The problem is that it is designed to be fired in mass, to be fired 21 rockets at a time, so that you are covering an area and you are having a shock effect. You don't only have an explosion, but also a shock and it covers a big area. Shooting one at a time is almost useless from a military perspective."
There are always two signs to every coin. Or as they say in Arabic and Hebrew (and Urdu and Hindi as well), you can't clap with one hand.

Words © 2009 Irfan Yusuf

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2 comments:

USpace said...

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Hamas will never honor a ceasefire, and as soon as they start firing rockets again, Israel must too.

These people equating Israel with the Nazis have to be insane, and they are mostly from the Left. The Left acting like Nazis and calling for a new Hitler, and for the Jews to go to the ovens, wow! Hitler, someone even most of them would say they hate. The Left, many are anti-semitic Nazis, they should be so proud. The truth is coming out, it is getting harder to hide.

The MSM is insidious, they are instrumental in fanning these flames. We must keep trying to de-brainwash as many people as possible. As the brave Geert Wilders put it recently, "To begin with, there is already a Palestinian state, and that is Jordan. This land covers nearly eighty percent of the historic Palestine. Most residents of Jordan are Palestinians, for instance queen Rania."

Why doesn't Jordan take the poor Palestinians in the West Bank and Egypt control the nut jobs in Gaza?

They don't want them, that's why. They should be made to take them. That may be the only answer.

Hamas is what makes Gaza much worse than it could be. If they would give up the dream of destroying Israel and the Jews and stopped all missiles and suicide bombers, and all terrorist attacks, Israel would welcome doing business with them, and things would be peaceful. But they can't do this as long as they follow their Koran strictly.

There is no negotiating with a mad man, or with Jihadis who want to die to go get their 72 virgins.
I hope Israel doesn't quit too early. If Israel is destroyed, terrorism in the rest of the world will just increase, it will never stop, as long as there are Radical Muslims, or rather, Muslim Fundamentalists; who are appeased, defended, and kissed up to.
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absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
let someone hit you

over and over again
and NEVER hit back harder

.
absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
DO NOT defend your country

from terrorist monkeys
just let them bomb you at will

.
absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
BOMB kindergartens

then piss and moan and whine
when their parents bomb you back

.
absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
never mock terrorists / Hamas

it's just their religion
you RIGHT-WING INFIDEL
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All real freedom starts with freedom of speech. Without freedom of speech there can be no real freedom.
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What Really Happened in the MidEast?
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Philosophy of Liberty Cartoon
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Help Stop Terrorism Today!
.
USpace

:)
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Anonymous said...

There were gas ovens in Germany. The Nazis had to round up all the Jews and transport them to the concentration camps. Today, it's much more efficient. The Palestinians were removed from their homes in Asqalaan (Ashkelon) and other surrounding towns and villages. They were forced into a concentration camp in Gaza. Israel took charge of the concentration camp. Now Israel provides home delivery of gas ovens of white phosphorus, the kind of stuff that burns your skin to the bone.

American taxpayers paid for the white phosphorus. Israel didn't pay for it. Now Israel is taking American tax dollars and using them to burn civilians, women and children. Now America needs the money desperately. Will Israel give the money back? Will greedy Israel stop taking money from America?

Is the pope Catholic?