WARNING: I wish to warn anyone who reads this that I feature here a photo of the Palestinian injuries caused by DIME. This and others featured at the RaiNews site are some of the most horrific wound images I’ve seen. They are not for the faint of heart. Turn away now if this will cause you great distress.
Rai24News has tonight broadcast its expose (video here–wmv file, use Windows Media Player) of the new DIME (Dense Inert Metal Explosive) weapon which Israel used to devastating lethal effect in Gaza during July and August. The tungsten and carbon in the bomb explode with such force that they create micro-shrapnel which in effect severs the limbs of victims just below the genitals. It essentially fries the skin and organs with which it comes into contact and amputates limbs with the effect of a circular saw. You can find photographic testimony of the damage at the Rai site. Doctors in Gaza never saw wounds like this before and knew quite quickly that they were dealing with a weapon they’d never seen. At least 62 victims have been treated for one or more severed limbs from this munition.
The RaiNews production crew, the same one which exposed U.S. use of phosphorus shells against insurgents in Fallujah, did meticulous research interviewing Palestinian medical personnel, an Israeli weapons expert and former IDF general, and Italian lab specialists. They reach the conclusion that in all likelihood the weapon in question is DIME.
The report does not weigh in specifically on the question of whether or not the Israelis developed this weapon themselves or secured it from the Air Force, which originally developed it. My money is on the weapon having been transferred to Israel by the U.S. But I’m dying to have a journalist actually ask a Pentagon PR flack to comment on this. I’d love to get even a “no comment” on the record.
When questioned by the news crew, the IDF maintained its boilerplate denial: “Israel uses no weapons that are not legal under international law.” Which of course begs the question since DIME is brand new and international law has not had an opportunity to make a judgment on its legality.
Though the report does not specially answer this question, I am assuming that the IDF refused to talk to the Italians officially since the only source quoted is Maj.-Gen (res.) Yitzhak Ben-Israel, former director of the IDF’s weapons lab. His interview is fascinating in an utterly ghoulish sort of way. He speaks of the weapon as being perfectly suited for urban environments (like Gaza) because according to him, you can kill an intended victim while leaving an innocent bystander standing nearby unharmed.
He even likens DIME to scenes from American police dramas in which a policeman faces an armed hostage-taker. The policeman shoots the gunman “right between the eyes, not 10 cm to the left or 10 cm to the right” and leaves the hostage untouched. In other words, DIME is the Dirty Harry of the U.S. military and the IDF. This all sounds quite “wonderful” (again in a ghoulish sort of way) until one considers that DIME’s kill zone is 12-25 feet. In crowded spots like Gaza (with the highest population density of any place on earth), this could mean killing many more than just a single intended victim or two.
Haaretz columnists have noted the IDF’s fascination with technological gizmos which are supposed to give Israel an advantage over its adversaries. A reliance on such “superiority” was part of what lulled its army into complacency on the eve of the Lebanon war. In its fascination with new weaponry, clearly the IDF loses sight of the impact of such weapons not only on its victims, but also on Palestinian and world opinion as a whole. Does the IDF not think that it will pay a high price for use of such ghastly implements of death?
What I have not read in any account of this weapon is its new and savage way of assaulting the human body. To compensate for its smaller kill zone, the weapon’s lethality within that zone has been amplified by the new carbon/tungsten micro-shrapnel. It is more precise (perhaps), but kills “better” or more intensively. It seems to leave only tell-tale pock marks and barely perceptible entrance wounds while wreaking havoc with the body’s internal organs. What kind of insane weapon is this?
Though articles have been written about DIME in the U.S. and British media, to my knowledge no one in this country has written about this story (yet). This post is a cri de coeur for some enterprising journalist to take this subject on. I think using Palestinian guinea pigs to test the lethality and effectiveness of experimental U.S. weapons is a heinous crime whether or not it violates existing international law. If I wasn’t so cynical I’d call for Congress to investigate this story. The fact that it is bought and paid for by Aipac would throttle such a proposal in the cradle.
Another eerie factoid about DIME is that it is remotely, rather than self-propelled, which means that you barely hear it before it strikes. It emits a small buzzing sound as it flies through the air.
My thanks to Lawrence of Cyberia, who thanks to her knowledge of Italian, was able to “open up” the Rai24 story to me and find lots of supporting material on the channel’s website and related sites.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.