white phosphorous

Electronic Intifada     By Eva Bartlett

It’s daily hard to believe it can get worse, but daily it does.

Last week, I saw what seemed to be the white phosphorus clouds doctors have written about, condemned. From a tall Gaza city building, the panoramic view showed a spreading stream of poison, on eastern Gaza.

The chemical burns deeply, to the bone, experts say. It is considered illegal warfare, not to be used in civilian areas. Yet the accounts grow of its use: heavy use in the Khosar region, east of Khan Younis, and in the northwest of Gaza, and in eastern Jabaliya, Sheik Zayid, Sheik Rajleen, Zaitoun… Everywhere. The UN headquarters housing hundreds of fleeing Palestinians which was bombed on January 15 was hit with white phosphorus.

“Five days ago, in Jabaliya, I saw an abnormal material: white dust, spread out in spinning circles which spread the dust further. From inside there was something falling down which looked like snow. It covered a large area, over many houses,” Maher el Madhouan, head of Physiotherapy department in Sheik Radwan had told me last week.

At Shifa hospital, Dr. Nafez Abu Shabaan, Head of the Burn Department, told me they’ve received some burn cases unlike anything they’ve seen. “We’re not familiar with phosphorous burns, but some patients have very deep burns, very strange burns.” He cites the case of a patient sent for a brain scan who three hours later, still alive, “came back smoking”.

In one room, Ghada, 20, lies staring blankly, half of her pretty face and soft skin mottled with burns and blisters. Her right hand is bandaged, so the extent of the burn has to be judged by her unbandaged left hand, which has burn gashes and bloated fingers. A medical report charts her burns: right side of face and head; right arm, hand, side, abdomen, leg, and foot. Apparently the incendiary chemical struck from her right. 43% of her total body surface is covered by these deep burns. She comes from Siatta, north of the northwestern area Attatra, where a tank invasion now rages, well into its first week. [UPDATE: Ghada later died of her extensive burn injuries]

At 4 pm on January 4th, Ghada and her family were inside their house when it was shelled 4 times by Israeli tanks. The shell which landed inside her home hit the area closest to Ghada. At the time, she was sitting with Farah, her 3 year old daughter, who survived the blast with equally disfiguring and painful burns. A swirl of angry red burn beards Farah’s face, dots her nose, ears and forehead, and cuts into 22% of her tiny body’s surface area.

Ali, 4, Yusef, 17, and their mother (name and age not given) also all suffered facial and bodily burns from the shelling and the chemicals.

“The whole house was filled with fire and black smoke, different than normal smoke from a fire. It was hard to breathe and swelled our throats,” a brother, uninjured, recounted.

The shells which seared the skin of 4 members of the family killed a further 5, including Ghada’s father-in-law (44), her husband’s three younger brothers (10, 11, 13), and a baby sister (1.5) who the mother was holding at the time.

Ambulances were called, and were prevented from arriving. Surviving family members loaded onto a tractor, driven by one of Ghada’s cousins. He and another cousin, both 18, were targeted by Israeli soldiers, said the mother, shot dead. The remaining family members had no option but to walk half an hour before they were able to get transportation to a hospital for treatment for their many serious injuries.

*Shahed, burnt to death by the white phosphorous fired on the Abu Halima family home. [photo: Mohammed Rjila]

see: Next Time it Will Hurt More

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18 comments

  1. I am from vancouver,canada andi wanted to comment on the use of white phosphorous.I was in Viet Nam a few years ago and i visited a war museum in Ho Chi Ming city.There was lots of pictures in the museum of people who were burned with white phosphorous.It was used a lot during the war in Viet Nam.The United Nations is not doing anything about banning this Chemical.The western countries are going along with it.The western countries and the United Nations are part of the problem for allowing Israel to get away with this.
    A cease fire without the partipation of Hamas and the withdrawl of all israeli troops and the opening of all crossings into gaza should’nt be considered a cease fire.Shame on the governments of the world who are not supporting the Palestinian people.Shame on any government that allows the israeli consulate represtentive to stay in their country.

    Stan Squires

  2. Israeli ceasefire announced. For how long. Now the world will hear the real cost of that war.

  3. Yes Steve you’re right about Israel and the ICC. Both Israel & the U.S. refused to become signatories. I sure hope there’s another way that will be found though where they CAN be prosecuted for war crimes and that remedy be sought aggressively.

  4. THE FACT OF THE MATTER IS THAT ALL THESE WAR CRIMINALS, WILL LIKELY DIE OF A NATURAL CAUSE. THE ONLY THING WE CAN DO AS CITIZENS OF THE WORLD, IS TO REVEAL THEIR CRIMES BY EDUCATING THE WORLD ABOUT THIS INHUMANE ACTS. THE ZIONIST JEWS DENY WHAT THEY HAVE DONE TO HUMANITY, BUT ON THE DAY OF JUDGEMENT THEIR TONGUES WILL SPEAK AGAINST THEM, FOR THAT DAY, THEY WILL BELIEVE THEY WERE NOT THE “CHOSEN ONES” AND THEY WILL KNOW THERE WAS A GOD WATCHING THEM.

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