Thursday, January 15, 2009

Gaza update: Watching Gaza turn into a fine powder.

Hot off the presses, Israel kills another Hamas bigshot.

The AP:

"Interior Minister Said Siam was killed in an Israeli airstrike that flattened a home in Gaza City. Israel and Hamas both confirmed the death of Siam, who oversaw thousands of security agents and was considered to be among the militant group's top five leaders in Gaza."

So, let's see, that's over 1000 Palestinians dead and 4000 wounded, all to assassinate Said Siam and Sheikh Nizar Rayyan (whose house they also flattened two weeks ago along with his entire family and about half the block he lived on).

Wow! Now that's what I call precision!

In other news, our good friend Willy Pete is back. For weeks now there have been accusations flying around saying the IDF is using white phosphorus on Gaza, something Israel denies yet, at the same time, says is legal.

Today, the IDF attacked the main headquarters of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) with white phosphorus.


"The main UN compound in Gaza was left in flames today after being struck by Israeli artillery fire, and a spokesman said that the building had been hit by shells containing the incendiary agent white phosphorus . . .

Chris Gunness, a UNRWA spokesman, said that the building had been used to shelter hundreds of people fleeing Israel’s 20-day offensive in Gaza. He said that pallets with supplies desperately needed by Palestinians in Gaza were on fire.

'What more stark symbolism do you need?' he said. 'You can’t put out white phosphorus with traditional methods such as fire extinguishers. You need sand, we don’t have sand.'

The Israeli military has denied using white phosphorus shells in the Gaza offensive, although an investigation by The Times has revealed that dozens of Palestinians in Gaza have sustained serious injuries from the substance, which burns at extremely high temperatures.

The Geneva Convention of 1980 proscribes the use of white phosphorus as a weapon of war in civilian areas, although it can be used to create a smokescreen. The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said today that all weapons used in Gaza were 'within the scope of international law.'"

Sure, bombing schools, bombing areas where civilians are seeking refuge, bombing houses where you just told civilians to go to, destroying relief supplies, this is clearly all 'within the scope of international law.'

The international law of the jungle, perhaps.

AP reports:

"U.N. workers and Palestinian firefighters, some wearing bulletproof jackets, struggled to douse the flames and pull bags of food from the debris after the Israeli attack, which was another blow to efforts to ease the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip."

Ok, let me get this straight, the IDF, in the interests of humanitarianism, allows a three hour a day truce to allow relief supplies to enter Gaza . . . and then bombs them. That makes sense.

As usual, Israel claims Hamas was in the compound: Israeli PM Ehud Olmert, "It is absolutely true that we were attacked from that place, but the consequences are very sad and we apologize for it. I don't think it should have happened and I'm very sorry."

A lot of good that does. Note here that when Israel attacked the UN school in the Jabaliya refugee camp last week they claimed Hamas was there, too, and even provided a video tape of gunmen running from the building. It soon was revealed, however, that the footage was from the same school, but from a year before.

I'm thinking Israel's credibility at this point is a little suspect.

That school, by the way, was the third school Israel had bombed up to that point. Apparently, Israel is bent on the destruction of all of Gaza's education infrastructure.

Ameera Ahmad in Gaza and EdVulliamy write in the Guardian that this sort of thing even has a name now, "scholasticide."

They write:

"'Learn, baby, learn' was a slogan of the black rights movement in America's ghettoes a generation ago, but it also epitomises the idea of education as the central pillar of Palestinian identity – a traditional premium on schooling steeled by occupation, and something the Israelis 'cannot abide… and seek to destroy', according to Dr Karma Nabulsi, who teaches politics at St Edmund Hall, Oxford. 'We knew before, and see more clearly now than ever, that Israel is seeking to annihilate an educated Palestine,' she says."

Well, I'd say it's not 'learn, baby, learn,' anymore, but burn, baby, burn.

With, new even more deadly weapons. reports Israel is using WP and another new weapon called dense inert metal explosive (DIME).

Amy Goodman reports:

"In addition to white phosphorous, medics and human rights groups are reporting they are seeing injuries distinctive of another controversial weapon. The munition, called DIME, for dense inert metal explosive, was designed to create a powerful blast over a small area. It was developed by the US Air Force in 2006. Those struck by the weapon who survive suffer severe mutilations and internal injuries. The weapon causes the tissue to be torn from the flesh. Unlike traditional munitions, there is said to be no shrapnel. Instead, particles of metals can be found in the bodies of those affected. Those residues have been found on victims in Gaza."

AFP reports:

"Israel is testing a new 'extremely nasty' type of weapon in Gaza, two medics charged as they returned home to Norway Monday after spending 10 days working at a hospital in the war-torn Palestinian territory.

'There's a very strong suspicion I think that Gaza is now being used as a test laboratory for new weapons,' Mads Gilbert told reporters at Oslo's Gardermoen airport, commenting on the kinds of injuries he and his colleague Erik Fosse had seen while working at the Shifa Hospital in Gaza.

The two medics, who were sent into the war zone by the pro-Palestinian aid organisation NORWAC on December 31, said they had seen clear signs that Dense Inert Metal Explosives (DIME), an experimental kind of explosive, were being used in Gaza."

And if you should happen to survive these weapons and make it to a hospital, the IDF follows you there and bombs it, as well.


"There were reports that the al-Quds hospital in the Tal El Hawa district, Gaza's second-largest, had been shelled, while more than 500 patients were being treated inside." reports:

"As a result of the ongoing shelling in the Tel al Huwa neigbourhood of Gaza City, many families are attempting to find shelter in the Al Quds hospital.

Australian Human Rights Activist Sharon Lock has described the events as Israeli snipers opened fire on families seeking refuge in Al-Quds hospital, in Tel al Huwa:

'One family lives very close to the hospital. They tried to come here as they thought it would be safer. Israeli snipers started firing at the family. They shot a young girl in the face and abdomen. She is now being operated on. The father of the family was shot in the leg and fell to the ground. The mother was screaming that one of her daughters was still outside, behind a bush, too scared to move. Mohammed, a medic I have been working with, ran outside and carried her to the hospital.'"

As of yet there are no reports on casualties from Al-Quds. Probably because the IDF also bombed the few journalists that actually managed to get in there.

"An explosion blasted a tower block in the city of Gaza on Thursday that houses the offices of Reuters and several other media organisations.

Colleagues said a journalist for the Abu Dhabi television channel had been wounded.
Reuters journalists working there at the time said an Israeli missile or shell appeared to have struck the southern side of the 13th floor of the Al-Shurouq Tower in the city centre

AP reports:

"Shells also struck a hospital, five high-rise apartment buildings and a building housing media outlets in Gaza City, injuring several journalists.

Bullets also entered another building housing The Associated Press offices, entering a room where two staffers were working but wounding no one. The Foreign Press Association, representing journalists covering Israel and the Palestinian territories, demanded a halt to attacks on press buildings.

The army had collected the locations of media organizations at the outset of fighting to avoid such attacks."

I keep hearing this stuff about the UN, the International Red Cross, hospitals and journalists giving the IDF their exact GPS coordinates and then being surprised they got bombed. It's becoming all too obvious doing that just encourages the IDF.

Update on the bombing of the Samouni clan.


"Israel Defense Forces troops knocked on the door of the Samouni clan in Gaza City last weekend and told them to leave, directing them to the building owned by a relative. Twenty-four hours later, three shells slammed into the structure where dozens of people were huddling, according to survivor accounts Friday.

A newly released United Nations report said 30 people died in the shelling, citing four unidentified survivors who spoke by telephone. It called the shelling "one of the gravest incidents" to happen since Israeli infantry and armored troops entered Gaza Jan. 4 to quell Hamas rockets on Israel.

Allegra Pacheco, a senior UN official in Jerusalem who helped draft the report on the incident for OCHA, added: 'We are not making an accusation of deliberate action' by the Israelis. 'We are just saying the facts. In Gaza, no civilian is safe. As long as violence continues, civilians will be injured and killed,' she said.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said the UN report should be the basis for an investigation of 'war crimes elements.' Her spokesman, Rupert Colville, said the 'war crimes elements' would refer to allegations that Israel impeded medical teams trying to care for wounded civilians and failed to care for those injured in the attack."

Hmm . . . "war crime elements?" Understatement of the century much?


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