Lies, Damn Lies, White Phosphorus and Israel 9

“Israel military forces only use munitions that are acceptable under international law and international convention,” Mark Regev, spokesman for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

22nd March 1995 – Israel signs the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons

Protocol III, Article 2 states:

1. It is prohibited in all circumstances to make the civilian population as such, individual

civilians or civilian objects the object of attack by incendiary weapons.

2. It is prohibited in all circumstances to make any military objective located within a

concentration of civilians the object of attack by air-delivered incendiary weapons.


17 January 2009 – “… a number of white phosphorous shells struck the yard of an UNRWA school in Beit Lahia, causing panic among the 1,600 civilians who had taken refuge there. While evacuating the shelter, an explosive shell struck the third floor of the school, killing two brothers, aged five and seven, and injuring 14 others including the boys’ mother. UNRWA has demanded an independent investigation into this incident.”

“…Where you have a direct hit on an UNRWA school where about 1,600 people had taken refuge, where the Israeli army knows the coordinates and knows who’s there, where this comes as the latest in a catalogue of direct and indirect attacks on UNRWA facilities, there have to be investigations to establish whether war crimes have been committed.” – Christopher Gunness, UNRWA spokesperson” [UN OCHA]

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9 thoughts on “Lies, Damn Lies, White Phosphorus and Israel

  • Strategist

    A prima facie case of a breach of the convention aka a war crime.

    Can anybody tell us who is leading on following this up and preparing indictments? If not the UN (and why not), then an NGO I do hope.

  • ken

    Who indeed lays the charges, starts the indictment? That is something I'd dearly like to know but don't know where to start.

    As far as evidence is concerned, this, surely, should suffice:

    An issue that's been troubling me, maybe trivial, I don't know, but WHY have Israeli jets only attacked at night? There can surely be no means by which Hamas can present any danger to those jets in daylight. So there can only be one answer – to terrorise a civilian population.

    The crimes mount up and up and up and …….

  • writerman

    Unfortunately, as I understand how these kind of things work in the 'real world' a legitimate state can bring charges or accuse another state of warcrimes etc. but it's far more difficult for a non-state actor to do so.

    A non-state, with a powerful 'protector' stands more of chance in circumstances like those in Gaza, only Palestine doesn't exist, Hamas is characterised as a 'terrorist' organisation by the West, so the chances of bringing any kind of case against Israel are remote, though not impossible.

    The United Nations won't start proceedings against Israel. The United Nations would be loathe to antagonise the United States and Israel's influential supporters. So that is out.

    The best one can hope for is that some court in Europe with a sympathetic and brave judge issues a judgement and an international arrest warrent for named Israeli politicians and generals, so that if they ever came to Europe they might possibly be subject to questioning or arrest, though this is difficult as the normally have diplomatic immunity when travelling, just in case.

    Much as we like to think, and hope that we are ruled by laws, in international relations power is still what counts, and Israel is a country with powerful friends.

  • Strategist

    But let us not despair here.

    An NGO can establish the facts, prepare indictments against named individuals – up to & including the very top of the command structure – and put it all in the public domain, including websites like this.

    We can try these killers in the court of public opinion. It wouldn't be full justice, but they wouldn't like it one little bit.

    And before I get accused of anti-semitism, let me say it is my belief that this is precisely what should be done to Tony Blair and Jack Straw for the war crime of attacking Iraq too.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    The Israeli military right now is recruiting an army of bloggers to seek out websites opposed to the perceived aims of the Israeli military machine and play I-ops with them. Expect a host of aggressively apologist bloggers who define themselves as 'Pro-Israel' (but who, people like Uri Avnery would argue, in fact work in detriment to the long-term survival prospects of that state in its current location).

    Watch out for this, people, for as well as uranium, white phosphorus and other chemical weapons applied liberally to the bodies of Palestinian civilians, weapons of mass destruction that the state can unleash on built-up areas in 4.5 SECONDS (congratulations Mr Anthony Blair, Envoy of Violent Death, on your shiny gold medal, forged on an anvil of bone from the blood of Iraqi, Afghan and Palestinian children), cyber-warfare of a number of different types has been unleashed by Israel against anyone – Jewish and non-Jewish, alike – who dares to raise their head above the parapet and in defiance of their pathetic 'leaders' and mendacious 'pundits', loudly proclaim:

    Enough, enough, the world has had enough!!

    It is time to organise mass divestment and cultural and academic boycotts, or (to quote an ancient Labour Chancellor, admittedly out-of-context!), it is time to make the pips squeak.

  • writerman

    There are lots of different kinds of Jews, me, for example, in a way, though it's long time ago now. I was always rather proud of my ancestry. I'm absolutely not proud of the actions of the Israeli military or government. People who are so arrogant and ignorant, that they actually openly boast of having committed warcrimes during 'The Rape of Gaza'!

    Years ago, at the height of Punk Rock, I went out with an orthodox rabbis daughter called Miriam. Her father didn't recognise Israel or Zionism. He thought Zionism was a dreadful, impracticle idea and anti-Jewish, according to Miriam. He wasn't keen on religious/nationalist Jews, or for that matter secular/nationalist Jews. He was rather strict.

    Miriam was wonderful, she could change in a few minutes from a very respectable, conservative Jewish teenage girl, into a Punk princess, who could pogo with the best of them. I recently heard she'd moved into some illegal colony in the occupied West Bank, what happened?!

  • Suhayl Saadi

    What an interesting story, writerman, that's exactly it, heterogeneity is where it's at (man)! It's rather sad about your 'punk princess'…

    As one of the ex-heads of Shin Bet once said (and my God, he should know), the Israeli state as it has developed has incorporated a kind of de facto apartheid into its being and he saw this as being antithetical to Judaism. "What kind of democracy do we want here?" he asked. Of course, some Jews always saw Zionism in its essence as a non-progressive ideology and some even as a heretical notion. All this heterogeneity – though always extant, of course – tended to get shut out by the emotional blackmail of the 'loud-voiced ones' but I see that it has returned in a very prominent – and welcome – manner during this episode. There are other intriguing areas which historically are complex but which have been reduced to sloganeering on all sides, eg. the culture, mysticisim and art of the Sephardim and Mizrahi and its deeply enmeshed and indeed mutually defining relationship with both Islamic and Eastern Christian cultures. How many people know that the grandson of Moses Maimonedes, Obadayah Maimonedes, was a Sufi who wrote a text entitled, 'The Treatise of the Pool'? When I was in DC recently I came across a Jewish writer of Iraqi Kurdish – and later, Israeli – origin and the picture he painted historically was very balanced, not, perhaps, what all of his American audience – though one has to remember that the population of DC is very liberal, in fact – may have wanted to hear. I regularly have to check some of my South Asian Christian and Muslim acquaintances for the idiotically Anti-Semitic ideas with which they consistently and predictably come out almost at the drop of a hat. These notions, which have been deliberately fostered, esp. in recent times, represent a substitute for critical thought and a smokescreen over history.

    Good on you, writerman – and Pogo on!!

  • Swiss

    Describing the effect of phosphorus shells

    Dear Craig

    There are three modifications of phosphorus known.

    Black, red and white phosphorus.

    They all are combustible, but black and red phosphorus

    are non-toxic, whereas white phosphorus is highly toxic

    (lethal dose : 2mg p.o.).

    Phosphorus blazes cannot be put out with water.

    Quite to the contrary, adding water will rather foment

    the blaze.

    Phosphorus grenades are filled with white phosphorus.

    Upon explosion, the white phosphorus inside the bomb

    gets fluid and splashes in fat, blazing drops in all directions.

    Each drop is followed by a white trail of smoke.

    If such a blazing phosphorus drop hits the skin, it burns its

    way down through the skin and all muscle tissue below until

    it reaches the bone.

    This is causing terrible singes, which nearly do not heal,

    due to the high toxicity of the white phosphorus which

    causes severe necrosis of the surrounding tissue.

    If extremities are hit, they mostly must be amputated.

    If the body is hit, the outcome is usually fatal.

    The death agony is very long, and if there is no morphine

    available, it is extremely dolorous and painful.

    This is why it is considered a war crime to drop

    phosphorus shells onto densely populated areas,

    where civilian population would indiscriminately be


    relating to this article:

    Amnesty International: 'Israel can be tried for war crimes'

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