Thursday, January 15, 2009


Marc Garlasco, a senior military analyst for Human Rights Watch accused Israel at the weekend of firing artillery shells with the incendiary agent white phosphorus into Gaza. HRW suggested that Israel was not taking all feasible precautions to minimize the impact of white phosphorus on civilians.

"What we're saying is the use of white phosphorus in densely populated areas like a refugee camp is showing that the Israelis are not taking all feasible precautions. It's just an unnecessary risk to the civilian population, not only in the potential for wounds but also for burning homes and infrastructure," said Garlasco in this Associated Press article.

Garlasco's claims were aired widely in the world's media and BBC World ran a story about a Palestinian burns victim in a Gaza Hospital with doctors claiming that the injury was caused by a shell doused in phosphorous.

Less widely aired was the revelation a day or two later in this story - ICRC: Israel's use of white phosphorus not illegal.

"The international Red Cross said Tuesday that Israel has fired white phosphorus shells in its offensive in the Gaza Strip, but has no evidence to suggest it is being used improperly or illegally."

The rebuttal has received a minute amount of coverage in comparison to the original story, providing yet another instance of NGO's and media sensationally attacking Israel followed by near silence when that version gets debunked.

Of course, when there are reports that Palestinian mortar shells which are aimed at civilians and not used to illuminate the sky contain phosphorous, nobody wants to know. Here's one such report - Phosphorus mortar shell detected in Negev.

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