24 thoughts on “Blinding the Children: Israel and White Phosphorus in Gaza – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. The anger is not just among arabs. Try the local library in downtown Adelaide, or the deli, or the local supermarket or just a walk down the road or a chat to the neighbours.

    Much of the ordinary anglo community is utterly enraged as we were when we arrogantly decided to blast Afghanistan and Iraq to bits.

    Contrary to white leaders we ordinary folk do not love murdering arabs or anyone else.

  2. “Major Dallal would not say whether Israel was using white phosphorus…”

    It’s been obvious for days that they are using white phosphorus. It was within a day or so after the ground invasion that I saw the first images of a WP airburst, with multiple long tendrils of smoke extending sideways (because of the wind blowing WP-soaked felt) to the ground. (See for example http://tinyurl.com/7rtduu) Those images can’t really be anything else.

  3. This is what Peter Herby, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross’ mines-arms unit, said: “In some of the strikes in Gaza it’s pretty clear that phosphorous was used. But it’s not unusual to use phosphorous to create smoke or illuminate a target. We have no evidence to suggest it’s being used in any other way.” I think there’s an unfortunate ambiguity regarding whether it can be used in places like Gaza; I’d be interested to know on what basis you’re saying “It may not be used in confined settings.” It’s also important to note that Israel (like the United States) has not signed up to Protocol III of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (which implies that something like white phosphorous should never be used in civilian areas, even to illuminate), and hence is not bound by it.

    1. Again, Alex, it’s not allowed to be used in a dense urban environment period. It’s allowed to be used on a conventional battlefied. If you use it among densely packed civilians, no matter yr goal, it will kill or maim them. Hence a violation of international law. I have read widely about white phosphorus when it was used in Lebanon as well to equally devastating effect. Do some Googling yrself & read Wikipedia & you’ll discover what I already have.

      Well good, Israel’s refusal to sign an international convention to guarantee humane use of war weapons gets it off on a technicality. I think you should be proud of the fact that Israel & the U.S. are happy to be pariahs among the world’s nations regarding this matter.

  4. We see these atrocities reported on the news and think, surely the outrage will be strong enough to end this siege. Surely the Israeli Defense Forces can not get away with this, yet again. But they do, time and again.

    I imagine myself in the shoes of a Palestinian who has just watched his family perish, knowing that the world is watching and nobody is doing anything to stop it. He has nothing left so why not blow himself up? I’m not condoning it, just understanding why it happens.

  5. One issue would be whether WP was used before the ground invasion. If it was, its use probably would be against conventions, because smoke-screening is really only relevant with troops on the ground in the area.

  6. Apparently most of the major military powers aren’t signed to Protocol III. Do you have a source that proves its absolutely prohibited to be used as a smokescreen in a place like Gaza (apart from Protocol III)? I think the problem is there is too much ambiguity.

    1. Yes, there is ambiguity. But the prevailing consensus among scholars of the Convention is as I wrote. Israel of course disagrees. Perhaps some other military powers might as well. But that’s all the ambiguity I can see.

  7. Alex Stein: According to the UNOG Web site (http://tinyurl.com/8hct24), the ‘major military powers’ that have not ratified Protocol III are:
    Republic of Korea
    the United States

    China, France, the UK, Russia and etc have all signed it.

  8. Alex Stein: Quite right… we can add ‘Hamas’ to that list. After all, there may be a valid military reason for trying to establish a smokescreen in the Negev.

  9. Alex, it’s not allowed to be used in a dense urban environment period.

    Wrong. You’re thinking of a provision in the Convention on Conventional Weapons, which governs the use of incendiary weapons, and forbids the use of same in densely populated urban areas.

    However, the CCW specifically exempts screens like WP from the scope of the treaty. Accordingly, the use of WP as a smokescreen is not illegal in dense urban environments.

    1. jpe: I would challenge you to provide proof of yr claim. The research I conducted during the Lebanon war indicated that most scholars interpret the Convention to outlaw the use of phosphorus in civilian areas because of the virtual certainty it will maim or otherwise injure them, which is precisely what did happen in Gaza. It doesn’t matter that Israel uses it as a screen. What matters is the impact that the munition has on civilians.

  10. Richard – we all agree that it can’t be used as a weapon in densely population urban areas. Hence the IDF investigation. Your original post dealt with its use as a smokescreen. Also, I like your comment that as the IDF is holding an investigation (the same IDF you routinely accuse of lying) there’s no need to quote scholars. If you remember, your original excuse was that you were too busy blogging the conflict. With the last Israeli soldier having left Gazan territory, perhaps you’ll find the time. In case you’re unclear: I’m interested in whether or not white phosphorous can be used as a smokescreen in densely populated urban areas. Again, I’m open to whatever you find – I’m just interested to clear up the ambiguity, if indeed that is possible.

    1. I don’t like your snarky tone. I don’t need to provide “excuses” to you or anyone else for anything. I don’t owe you anything. Period. The research & links as I’ve told you in is in posts I wrote during the Lebanon war. If you hadn’t behaved like such a twit I might’ve done the research for you & gone back to find those links. Now, you’ll have to do it yrself. I’ve got more important things to do than to delve back into my archives to answer yr quibbles, quarrels and nitpicking.

      My original post made no distinction between using it as a smokescreen or any other use. No matter what purpose its used for in urban areas it is illegal. You will maim civilians in urban areas whether you use it for a smokescreen or any other purpose. Hence it’s illegality. The use the IDF is investigating would certainly have been for a smokescreen. That’s the only use the IDF made of it that I’m aware of in Gaza.

      The only ambiguity is in yr own mind & possibly that of the IDF, though they seem to be clearer about it than you.

  11. “Alkalai’s probe is thus focusing on the second type: phosphorus shells, either 81mm or 120mm, that are fired from mortar guns. About 200 such shells were fired during the recent fighting, and of these, according to the probe’s initial findings, almost 180 were fired at orchards in which gunmen and rocket-launching crews were taking cover.”

    It doesn’t seem like they’re talking about its use as a smokescreen.

    Again, fascinating how you refuse to provide evidence of your own claims when you routinely demand it of others. Your constant shifting of standards is hugely entertaining, particularly amidst the rage.

    1. It doesn’t seem like they’re talking about its use as a smokescreen.

      What other use does it have unless you’re using it as an actual weapon to attempt to burn people on the ground in which case it certainly contravenes international law?

      Read my most recent post for respected international human rights groups which have not only condemned Israel’s use of the weapon, but called it a likely war crime. Do you think they would do this for sport? Do you think these experts on the subject wouldn’t feel they had the consensus of international jurisprudence on their side in making these judgments.

      Don’t you dare charge me with refusing to provide you with evidence. The evidence is there in my archives open for anyone to peruse including you. If you’re too lazy to do so after accusing me of making “excuses” for not providing you with spoon fed information, then it’s your own “look out.” What I have “refused” to do is your homework for you.

      I’m glad I entertain you. Nice to know that amidst discussions of Israeli brutality & war crimes you feel entertained by it all. What I find truly disgusting is how you see this as a jousting match between wits on both sides of the conflict. Man, can’t you show any real human emotion ever? Doesn’t it disturb you one bit that Israel burned a boy’s eyes out with the hellish brimstone? Or that it killed Mrs. Abu Halima’s husband & 4 daughters causing one of them to “dissolve before her eyes” as she says in the NY Times story? You are all mind & no heart.

  12. We’re going round in circles, Richard, and davka at the point when I was about to thank you for your last post. Of course I am disturbed by the notion that any Israeli soldier would fire phosphorous shells at civilians, and I hope that whoever gave that order will be punished accordingly. Unfortunately, we both know that’s unlikely to be the case.

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