Al Jazeera reporters on the ground at al-Shifa Hospital, the main hospital in Gaza City, have been advised by doctors in the Burns Unit that many patients are showing burns consistent with the use of white phosphorus.
This is confirmed by Human Rights Watch, which acknowledges that the use of white phosphorus is permissible under international humanitarian law but which:
... has a significant, incidental, incendiary effect that can severely burn people and set structures, fields, and other civilian objects in the vicinity on fire. The potential for harm to civilians is magnified by Gaza's high population density, among the highest in the world.The Times has photographic evidence showing the use of:
White phosphorous can burn down houses and cause horrific burns when it touches the skin.
... 155mm rounds ... clearly marked with the designation M825A1, an American-made white phosphorus munition.One wonders whether these weapons were part of American aid to Israel. Were the dollars of American taxpayers used to facilitate Israel burning Palestinian women and children? Would American taxpayers prefer these dollars were paid toward helping US citizens being affected by the Global Financial Crisis? Will American taxpayers come to their senses and recognise that Israel is no longer a worthy recipient of money that could be used to provide Americans with jobs and a livelihood instead of being used for killing civilians?
President-elect Obama recently told Americans that unemployment in the US is the highest it has been for 26 years. America's automotive manufacturing industry is in crisis. Can the United States afford to continue providing money to Israel to enable it to kill civilians and destroy UN schools?
The Times quotes Dr Maads Gilbert, a Norwegian war surgery specialist working in Gaza, who summarises the effects of this weapon as follows:
Those inside the perimeter of this weapon's power zone will be torn completely apart. We have seen numerous amputations that we suspect have been caused by this.Israel continues to insist it has been taking all steps to avoid civilian conditions. The Independent reported on 11 January just some of the results of these efforts:
... an Israeli tank shell landed outside a home in the northern Gaza town of Jabaliya, killing nine people as they sat in their garden. They were all from the same clan, and, said health administrator Adham Hakim, their bodies were so mangled they were brought to hospital in the boot of a civilian car. Two were women and two were children.It isn't just Israeli weapons killing Palestinians. The report from The Independent continues:
This wretched pair will be added to the nearly 300 Gaza children who have been killed by Israeli fire. In the perversely disproportionate mathematics of this conflict, 13 Israelis have been killed – four of them by militant rockets ... a report two days ago from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs putting the number of children killed at 265.
Medical facilities are stretched almost to breaking point, and no one can vouch for this better than Dr Al-Jarou. He is at the Shifa, Gaza's biggest hospital, where about 70 patients are in intensive care, among them his daughter Yasmine. They cling to life through four generators working round the clock at a hospital which has been without power for the past seven days because Gaza's sole power plant has stopped working due to lack of fuel. "How terrible it would be," Dr Hassan Khalaf, the hospital's director, said, "if our patients survive attacks – and then die because of a lack of electricity."More later.
Words © 2009 Irfan Yusuf
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