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Author Topic: Israel accused of indiscriminate phosphorus use in Gaza  (Read 8056 times)
Koen
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« on: 25 March 2009, 21:58:28 »
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http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/mar/25/israel-white-phosphorus-gaza

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Israel's military fired white phosphorus over crowded areas of Gaza repeatedly and indiscriminately in its three-week war, killing and injuring civilians and committing war crimes, Human Rights Watch said today.

In a 71-page report, the rights group said the repeated use of air-burst white phosphorus artillery shells in populated areas of Gaza was not incidental or accidental, but revealed "a pattern or policy of conduct".

It said the Israeli military used white phosphorus in a "deliberate or reckless" way. The report says:

• Israel was aware of the dangers of white phosphorus.

• It chose not to use alternative and less dangerous smoke shells.

• In one case, Israel even ignored repeated warnings from UN staff before hitting the main UN compound in Gaza with white phosphorus shells on 15 January.

"In Gaza, the Israeli military didn't just use white phosphorus in open areas as a screen for its troops," said Fred Abrahams, a senior Human Rights Watch researcher. "It fired white phosphorus repeatedly over densely populated areas, even when its troops weren't in the area and safe smoke shells were available. As a result, civilians needlessly suffered and died." He said senior commanders should be held to account.

Human Rights Watch called on the UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, to launch an international commission of inquiry to investigate allegations of violations of international law in the Gaza war by the Israeli military and Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist movement that controls Gaza.

The Israeli military has defended its conduct in Gaza in the face of mounting allegations of serious violations of international law and said its soldiers did not intentionally target civilians. When Israel's use of white phosphorus emerged during the war, the military at first denied using the weapon, then said it only used weapons in accordance with international law. Later it announced an internal inquiry, led by a colonel, would be held.

Tonight the Israeli military said its investigation into the use of white phosphorous was still under way, but insisted its use of what it called 155mm "smoke shells" was legal.

"Based on the findings at this stage it is already possible to conclude that the IDF's use of smoke shells was in accordance with international law," it said. "These shells were used for specific operational needs only and in accord with international humanitarian law. The claim that smoke shells were used indiscriminately, or to threaten the civilian population, is baseless."

White phosphorus burns in contact with oxygen and causes deep burns when it touches human skin, sometimes reaching to the bone. The weapon is not illegal itself and can be used to provide a smokescreen on the battlefield or as an incendiary weapon against a military target. However, its use is regulated even by customary international law. It must be used in a way that distinguishes between combatants and civilians and cannot be used to target civilians.

Most of the Israeli military's white phosphorus in Gaza was fired in 155mm artillery shells, each containing 116 wedges soaked with the chemical.

In January, the Guardian found one such shell still smoking several days after it was fired, outside the home of the Abu Halima family in Atatra. One white phosphorous shell hit the house directly, killing a father and four of his children. His wife was severely burnt. Human Rights Watch also reported the same case.

Human Rights Watch found 24 spent white phosphorus shells in Gaza, all from the same batch made in a US ammunition factory in 1989 by Thiokol Aerospace. Other shells were photographed during the war with markings showing they were made in the Pine Bluff Arsenal, also in America, in 1991.

Human Rights Watch said the Israeli military often used the weapon even in areas where there were no Israeli troops on the ground, which it said, "strongly suggests that the IDF [Israel Defence Forces] was not using the munition for its obscurant qualities but rather for its incendiary effect".

The group said it found no evidence that Hamas fighters used Palestinian civilians as human shields - a key Israeli claim - in the area at the time of the attacks it researched.

The rights group studied six cases in detail in which 12 civilians were killed and dozens more were injured.

In one case, witnesses described how a white phosphorus shell hit a car in Tel al-Hawa, in south-eastern Gaza City, killing a bank manager, his wife and two of their children on 15 January.

On the same day, at about 7.30am, Israeli artillery shells began falling near the main compound of the UN Relief and Works Agency in Gaza City, where 700 civilians were sheltering. UN staff made repeated telephone calls to the Israeli military asking them to stop but, at about 10am, six shells hit the compound, three of which contained white phosphorus. The warehouse was hit, causing at least $10m of damage, and it continued to burn for 12 days.

The Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, said at the time that "Hamas fired from the UNRWA site". But the UN has always denied there were any militants in the compound or firing from the compound.

In another case, on 17 January, an artillery shell that had already discharged its white phosphorus hit a UN school in Beit Lahiya, where 1,600 civilians were sheltering. It killed two brothers in a classroom and severely injured their mother and cousin.

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stoffel
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« Reply #1 on: 25 March 2009, 23:25:19 »
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On several sites you can find info about this, typical Palestinian bullshit story.

Most of the stuff was dispersed from low flying heli/planes as IR countermeassures.
The stuff came down with the speed of... falling pieces of paper.
When you stand on the ground you have plenty of time to, see it coming and evade it.
And regarding the smoke, I have never seen smokeshells explode, these dont either, they simply fall down and burn.

To rest my case, for instance where are the movies and pictures of people with injuries?
Havent seen any, where in other cases  journalists were (coincidentally) at the scene.....

And like I said before we should avoid discussions who tend to be one sided only.
This is a clear case.
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« Reply #2 on: 25 March 2009, 23:30:23 »
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And like I said before we should avoid discussions who tend to be one sided only.


what discussion tends to be one sided? not this one since it hasn't started yet.
should we keep WaT free of every report on wars and/or Israel?

this is a report ON WaT, NOT FROM WaT.
this is not my point of view, it's a quote from the Guardian.

one sided can work from both sides, 100% is never good and not realistic
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« Reply #3 on: 25 March 2009, 23:47:26 »
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This item is brought by a group of people( human right watch) with most leftist members who very often display a lack of enthousiasme for western based democracies, and especially the armies.
They could not come up with real evidence to claim there accusations, like in many cases before this one.
They can be seen as not objective and one-sided.
They dont seem to care Israeli civilians living in fear for:
Rocketattacks.
Terrorist attacks by all means.
Suicidebombers.

I have just put parts of the Geneva convention on the IDF site.
Often these people yel that when civilians get involved our soldiers commit warcrimes.
They allways forget the last rule in that convention.
Non combattants( terrorist are just that) conduct warcrimes when they use violence against a regular army.
ALL PROTECTION AND RIGHT FOR PROTECTION IS LOST WHEN NON COMBATTANTS USE VIOLENCE AGAINST OFFICIAL MILITARY PERSONELL AND EQUIPMENT.
IF THEREFORE A SITUATION HAS TO BE SOLVED WITH USE OF FORCE THAN TROOPS ARE ALLOWED TO USE FORCE AGAINST THESE INDIVIDUALS.

Its my final thought at this topic.
We should stick to facts, facts about military tactics,strategy and so on, not political statements.
Our media are not objective anymore regarding Israel, I dont think we should go the same way and act as parrots in these matters.
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« Reply #4 on: 26 March 2009, 08:52:09 »
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This item is brought by a group of people( human right watch) with most leftist members who very often display a lack of enthousiasme for western based democracies, and especially the armies.
They could not come up with real evidence to claim there accusations, like in many cases before this one.
They can be seen as not objective and one-sided.
They dont seem to care Israeli civilians living in fear for:
Rocketattacks.
Terrorist attacks by all means.
Suicidebombers.

I have just put parts of the Geneva convention on the IDF site.
Often these people yel that when civilians get involved our soldiers commit warcrimes.
They allways forget the last rule in that convention.
Non combattants( terrorist are just that) conduct warcrimes when they use violence against a regular army.
ALL PROTECTION AND RIGHT FOR PROTECTION IS LOST WHEN NON COMBATTANTS USE VIOLENCE AGAINST OFFICIAL MILITARY PERSONELL AND EQUIPMENT.
IF THEREFORE A SITUATION HAS TO BE SOLVED WITH USE OF FORCE THAN TROOPS ARE ALLOWED TO USE FORCE AGAINST THESE INDIVIDUALS.

Its my final thought at this topic.
We should stick to facts, facts about military tactics,strategy and so on, not political statements.
Our media are not objective anymore regarding Israel, I dont think we should go the same way and act as parrots in these matters.



Well, I would not consider myself a parrot, for starters, and also I have the feeling your acessment of the above mentioned report might also be interpreted as a bit biased and full of unproven rhetorics, but that is fine with me as that is what forums are there for:

With all due respect, this is not a whacky organization, they confront many other regimes in Africa or e.g. China and Palestina as well, their report in this case also lists a long list of what they clearly lable war crimes by Hamas (and including the tzhings you mentioned) and is by no means one sided (I have read it in total here in El Mundo).

As far as pictures of injuries consistent with te use of white phosphorus injuries are concerned, there were plenty, here just a few as a reminder:







Pictures that show ready and fused M825A1 shells have also been seen various times:




Also other proof has various times been forwarded, and by other sources, not the least some Israeli soldiers that were with the campaign and Israeli Newspapers, and whole Israel is currently in uproar (some excerpts):

Quote
...the witness statements of the 15 soldiers who have come forward to describe their concerns over Operation Cast Lead appear to corroborate claims of random killings and vandalism carried out during the operation made by a separate group of anonymous servicemen during a seminar at a military college.


Quote
...the testimony it has received already suggests widespread abuses stemming from orders originating with the Israeli military chain of command.

"This is not a military that we recognise," said Mikhael Manekin, one of the IDF soldiers involved with the group. "This is in a different category to things we have seen before. We have spoken to a lot of different people who served in different places in Gaza, including officers. We are not talking about some units being more aggressive than others, but underlying policy. So much so that we are talking to soldiers who said that they were having to restrain the orders given."

Manekin described how soldiers had reported their units being specifically warned by officers not to discuss what they had seen and done in Gaza.


Quote
...the evidence gathered comes hard on the heels of the disclosure by the Oranim Academy's pre-military course last week of devastating witness accounts supplied by soldiers involved in the fighting, including the "unjustified" shooting of civilians.


Quote
With Israeli newspapers threatening new disclosures, the New York Times has weighed in with an interview with a reservist describing the rules of engagement for the Gaza operation. Amir Marmor, a 33-year-old military reservist, told the newspaper that he was stunned to discover the way civilian casualties were discussed in training talks before his tank unit entered Gaza in January.

"Shoot and don't worry about the consequences" was the message from commanders, said Marmor. Describing the behaviour of a lieutenant-colonel who briefed the troops, Marmor added: "His whole demeanour was extremely gung-ho. This is very, very different from my usual experience. I have been doing reserve duty for 12 years, and it was always an issue how to avoid causing civilian injuries. He said that in this operation, we are not taking any chances. Morality aside, we have to do our job. We will cry about it later."


It really increasingly seems to look like the military cupola of the IDF was strongly supporting widespread disregard of Palestinian civil safety or at least endorsing such behaviour:

Quote
An investigation by reporter Uri Blau, published on Friday in Haaretz, disclosed how Israeli soldiers were ordering T-shirts to mark the end of operations, featuring grotesque images including dead babies, mothers weeping by their children's graves, a gun aimed at a child and bombed-out mosques.

Another T-shirt designed for infantry snipers bears the inscription "Better use Durex" next to a picture of a dead Palestinian baby, with his weeping mother and a teddy bear beside him. A shirt designed for the Givati Brigade's Shaked battalion depicts a pregnant Palestinian woman with a bull's-eye superimposed on her belly, with the slogan, in English, "1 shot, 2 kills".


The daily mail has an interesting article about how the military itself is realizing something went wrong and is investigatin in serious:  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1163259/Israeli-troops-admit-killed-innocent-civilians-Gaza-war.html

In total, there is enough room for a discussion on a war and tactics oriented forum based on such indications and I see nothing wrong with that, and it is done and going on on many mil forums.

That is what forums are for.

My take

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« Reply #5 on: 26 March 2009, 14:27:54 »
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I can only refer again to the line I wrote from the convention.

Terrorists put people in harms way.
They are the ones to be accused/blamed.
I have gotten many mails from friends in the IDF about this and other pro palestinian topics on our forum..
We discussed these topics some ago and agreed not to go political.
You know my stand towards Israel, a good friend of mine got killed there by a terrorist bomb.

We should not get into these political games!
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« Reply #6 on: 26 March 2009, 18:57:03 »
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"Shoot and don't worry about the consequences" -- does that really sound like any sort of military training? 
Even the avowed terrorists don't shoot and 'not worry about the consequences'; they aim deliberately at the most vulnerable, civilian or military.

I think a more fruitful discussion (about this or another conflict) might be about the usefulness/uses put to "international organizations" like the UN or Human Rights Watch.  Even HRW admits that white phosphorous is legal and that what Israel is accused of doing isn't illegal.  That says more to me about international law than about any particular military's practices in a conflict.  International law is impossible to enforce if certain int'l actors don't agree with the decision of the UN, say.  (I used to be a big backer of the UN; it has proven itself to be ineffective and hypocritical in its action in the past 4 decades.)

When Stoeffel says this thread is a one-sided report, I agree; I have yet to be convinced that the New York Times, HRW, UN, UK Guardian, Hamas or the IDF are objective  entities so looking at pictures provided by one or the other is only a one-way dialogue--seeing white phosphorous wounds is a direct road into our human heart and some will emotionally do anything to stop seeing these images, regardless of how or the results for others (the State of Israel in this particular case.)  It appears that some are disregarding the IDF's report on the internal investigation, although they believe reports of training regimens from a former(?) IDF member ("shoot without regard for consequences".)  Do images of civilian dead in Israel from terrorist bombers do the same thing for you?  How to reconcile the two feelings?  For some I imagine it does provoke the same feelings, but feelings are not a good basis for policy.

I don't enjoy political discussions either, really; I have yet to see anyone's mind changed by them. 

 
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« Reply #7 on: 28 March 2009, 10:25:09 »
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Just for the record, here a quick summary of the HRW Letter to the EU from MAR 16, 2009 describing their findings with regards to war crimes. Both sides are mentioned and demanded to be held accountable through te EU for various issues:

Quote
...Human Rights Watch's basic findings on laws-of-war violations committed by both sides.

Regarding Israel, Human Rights Watch's primary concerns are:

- the ongoing closure of Gaza, amounting to collective punishment; - the use of high-explosive heavy artillery as well as of air-burst white phosphorus munitions in densely populated areas;
- the shooting of unarmed civilians holding white flags;
- the targeting of civilian structures;
- inadequate warnings to civilians of impending attack;
- the wanton destruction of civilian property.

Regarding Hamas, Human Rights Watch's key concerns are:

- the firing of rockets deliberately and indiscriminately into civilian areas of Israel;
- the shooting of  rockets and the conduct of military operations from within populated areas in Gaza;
- the beatings and killings of Palestinian political opponents and critics in Gaza.


FYI,

Rattler
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« Reply #8 on: 28 March 2009, 12:33:12 »
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All,

I agree that in politics things are always difficult and that people mostly stick to their opinions but...

war is mostly started by politicians for political reasons so should we avoid all discussions on wars?

This is a forum and a forum should be used for dicussing matters, I never have a problem with someones opinion.
Luckily we are free, free to say what we think. That is a privilige.

When I post these links and messages they are not a personal opinion or statement. They are an intro to start a discussion here on WaT.
But when we go direction Israel it suddenly turns out to reactions as not to discuss Israel and/or the latest war against Hamas.

That I don't understand! Why not?
It's a conflict/war and we are on a forum where we discuss wars and conflicts.

I never read any reaction that gives me a reason to abort WaT or these kind of discussions.

There's a subject and there's a panel to discuss it, fine for me.

Someone thinks that a certain party in the conflict is too blame? Fine for me, that's an opinion.
Another one thinks that the media isn't neutral? Fine, that's another opinion.

These opinions make a discussion, very good, that's why WaT is here.

I never felt any reason to close a discussion here on WaT or give warnings or such...

We are adults and we discuss serious matters. What I see is that all the opinions written on WaT are explained. This way we know why someone has his opinion.

So, again, please keep up the discussions. That's one of the reasons why WaT is here.
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« Reply #9 on: 28 March 2009, 18:18:23 »
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I personally saw several news reel clips during the most recent conflict, wherein I saw WP airbursts in built up areas. Now unless the IDF is different than my own experiences/training, the arty fires the type of ordinance most effective against the target. Since they did have smoke projectiles available, someone decided for the WP to be used instead. As to the morality of its usage...bah, mankind has proven time and again, we turn mad/insane when involved in warfare and the only way to stop the insanity, is to stop wars. Now I'll not hold my breathe until that day, as I cant hold my breathe for millenia, which is just about how long some of today's conflicts have been running.

ays,

J
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« Reply #10 on: 29 March 2009, 23:48:36 »
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As site owners/moderators we should restrain from putting topics like this on the forum.
Thats up to other members.
Politics are fine, but we cannot moderate/judge( if the need rises) a reply fairly from someone else if we have wrote topics/replies in which we express our own opinion on that subject , specially if that shows an opposite view.
Its what we agreed to a few days ago.
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« Reply #11 on: 30 March 2009, 02:25:15 »
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This thread appears in; Planet Earth: the serious stuff.

Politics, whether you agree with it or not, is serious stuff. And though opinions are seldom changed, the reason I enter into discussions, is to broaden my exposure to other ideas and concepts. Like parachutes, minds work best when open. Lest you think me a perfect specimen of mankind, know that I have my own prejudices and biases, and I struggle with them constantly. However, should this site choose to censor political discussions, as is your right, I shall find it to be far less attractive as a place of potential enlightenment.

ays,

J

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« Reply #12 on: 30 March 2009, 05:11:31 »
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Don't worry Jody.  We never thought you were perfect. Knipoog Knipoog
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« Reply #13 on: 30 March 2009, 09:39:20 »
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Jody,

I am not saying we will censor stuff.
Thats going to far, after all we live in a free world.
But if someone  steps over the line, for instance getting offensive or worse than I have to be able to moderate.
I cannot do that fairly if I have given my opinion or if I wrote the topic myself.
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« Reply #14 on: 30 March 2009, 14:13:49 »
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Henk sez:
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But if someone  steps over the line, for instance getting offensive or worse than I have to be able to moderate.


As Koen will tell you, I have no problem with moderators doing their job, as I have had my input moderated, and no offense was taken.

Quote
I cannot do that fairly if I have given my opinion or if I wrote the topic myself.


If you feel that you cannot moderate fairly. which I understand under the above conditions, then you must recuse yourself from moderating upon that subject, and bring your concerns to the moderators who can. That should relieve the burden for you in that instance.

I am not surprised, nor intimidated, by the difference of opinion to be found in these forums. And while I may have opinions, which I express with enthusiasm, they alone cannot even buy you a slice of bread, much less a cup of coffee. As for the opinion of your IDF friends, let them express themselves and make their points as the rest of us do. They will sink or fly on their own merits, and do not need your defense. For surely their is enough senseless violence in this ages old conflict between cousins, for all to be tainted by, without trying to measure the balance, as though there is a scale, by which one could do so.

As to the loss of your friend, I sincerely empathize, with you. I am 40 years into my own remembrances of such a loss. Rarely does a day pass without my thoughts straying to the now, long lost 'Doc'. I know of no way to succor your feelings of loss, nor would  I wish to. I can only tell you, that the pain you feel, is as eternal as the memory.

ays,

Jody 


 
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« Reply #15 on: 30 March 2009, 17:22:02 »
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I agree with FacMan totally on this whole issue (and also want to voice my "pesame" to you for the loss).

OTOH we are not the only ones entering in those discussions, sometimes even the people that really should know better (emphasis by me):

Quote
Authorities in an impoverished Palestinian refugee camp have shut down a youth orchestra, boarded up its rehearsal studio and banned its conductor from the camp after she took 13 young musicians to perform for Holocaust survivors in Israel, an official said Sunday.

Conductor Wafa Younes took the children from her Strings of Freedom orchestra to sing songs of peace last week as part of an annual Good Deeds Day organized by Israel's richest woman. But once parents and leaders back in West Bank's Jenin refugee camp realized where the group had been, they shut down the program, saying Younes had dragged the children into a political issue.


http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090329/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_palestinians_orchestra

What a sad and stupid thing to do to children and the effort...

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« Reply #16 on: 31 March 2009, 14:31:35 »
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Rattler sez:
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What a sad and stupid thing to do to children


This is proof positive, of my madness in war concept. These children 'are' the future, and to punish their innocence in such a manner, is naught but a form of indoctrination of their malleable minds. I can well imagine, in my own war torn mind, the further degradations they shall suffer at the hands of these idiots, and their peers, for this thoughtful, enlightened expression of their humanity.

This is why I practice blasphemy!

ays,

J
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« Reply #17 on: 1 April 2009, 00:00:56 »
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Emphasis by yours truly:

This is proof positive, of my madness in war concept. These children 'are' the future, and to punish their innocence in such a manner, is naught but a form of indoctrination of their malleable minds. I can well imagine, in my own war torn mind, the further degradations they shall suffer at the hands of these idiots, and their peers, for this thoughtful, enlightened expression of their humanity.

This is why I practice blasphemy!

I fully agree with your first paragraph, but (as a true agnostic) will never fall in the trap of the last sentence.

I sincerely think I understand you have lived hell and are commenting from this POV (compared to myself just having been under fire once - 60mm mortars -, and this after mil service and w/o casualities), but myself I have seen children killed (not as a result of warfare, a simple gas explosion in Giessen/Germany), the pics of them keep haunting me up to today 30 yrs later...

My take: Blasphemy is not the way (though understandable as a reaction on feeling "impotent" in a scenario):

While God or whatever "supernatural" or "original" force is not my concept to explain life (I would rather opt to "42" if you asked me seriously), I truly believe that whatever you yourself do or fail to do (consciously and with intent) has a *huge* (92:8 is my take for the math guys) influence on what is happening on this planet, anywhere and completely independent from where you are (doing or not doing stuff)

PM me if you want a more ample take on things (or ideas formulated as questions) from me.

My 2c,

Rattler
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« Reply #18 on: 1 April 2009, 05:12:01 »
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Rattler sez:
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...Blasphemy is not the way (though understandable as a reaction on feeling "impotent" in a scenario)


My actual spiritual beliefs tend more to Buddhism, which to those readers who are not familiar, is in fact, not a religion, though it is often mistaken for one. My practice of blaspheming, does in fact have an impotent aspect to it, but is more accurately, me covering my bases and expressing my condemnation of God (as I do not profess to know the answer as to God's existence)  should I be mistaken. For any God, who would use children as pawns, in a war with whatever enemy (created by said God), is not worthy of my worship, but instead of contempt and derision.

Now, lest the believers take offense at my simple mindedness here, rest assured, if you are in fact correct, I shall have a special place reserved for me at my demise. So you see, I do not attack your faith, just your deity.

ays,

Jody
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"You can call me by my first name...Sarge."
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