Sunday, January 31, 2010

It’s Official – IDF Finally Admits to Illegal Use of White Phosphorus in Gaza Campaign

Last summer I published a post in which I charted the different stages of Israel's cover-up of the illegal use of white phosphorus in the Gaza Op. You can read about it here. First, there was total denial of use; then the IDF admitted use but claimed that it was legal. When Breaking the Silence published clear testimonies of its illegal use, together with the physical evidence and testimonies of the Gazans, the response was to shoot the messenger.

Well, now, ribono shel olam, Israel has finally admitted to illegal use of white phosphorus in the Gaza Campaign in its reply to the Goldstone Report. We are even told what officers gave the commands, and that they were "reprimanded."

How many chances does the IDF get to change its story before people stop taking it seriously? And at each stage the Hasbara moonies parrot whatever happens to be the current version!

Will somebody explain to me why anybody should give any credence to what the IDF spokesperson says – even if it happens to be true?

By the way, there is evidence that there were other cases of use of white phosphorus besides the one referred to here

Read this mind-blowing article from Haaretz here.


Israel suspects two IDF officers guilty of Gaza war crimes

By Anshel Pfeffer


Internal IDF probe into Gaza UNRWA facility shelling finds the two jeopardized civilian lives.

An Israel Defense Forces brigadier general and another officer with the rank of colonel endangered human life during last year's military campaign in the Gaza Strip by firing white phosphorous munitions in the direction of a compound run by UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the Israeli government says.

The finding acknowledges, at least in part, allegations by international organizations. It was contained in a report that the government provided to the United Nations over the weekend in response to last September's Goldstone Commission report.

Gaza Division Commander Brig. Gen. Eyal Eisenberg and Givati Brigade Commander Col. Ilan Malka, were the subject of disciplinary action by GOC Southern Command Maj. Gen. Yoav Gallant after headquarters staff found that the men exceeded their authority in approving the use of phosphorus shells that endangered human life, the Israeli government report said.

The incident in question occurred on January 15 of last year, two days before the end of Operation Cast Lead, in the southern Gaza City neighborhood of Tel al-Hawa, at a time when the Givati brigade and other Israeli forces were in the area.

In the course of engagement with a Hamas squad, which according to IDF intelligence possessed advanced anti-tank missiles, it was decided to use phosphorus smoke munitions to create cover that would make it harder for the Hamas fighters to see the IDF soldiers.

According to Israeli intelligence, the Hamas forces were stationed in a commanding location from which they could easily see the soldiers and the UNRWA compound that was located between the Israeli forces and the Hamas position.

The munitions disperse hundreds of pieces of felt impregnated with phosphorus and at least some of the pieces fell into the UNRWA compound, causing injury to an UNRWA employee there as well as to two Palestinian civilians who took cover at the location.

Many human rights organizations said that the IDF had illegally used the phosphorus munitions, which are shot from 155 mm. cannon, and that the material caused many burn injuries among the Palestinian population. The IDF responded that the munitions were permitted under international conventions and that similar shells are in use by other Western armies. The army also contended that the munitions were used in locations remote from heavily -populated areas.

With the conclusion of Operation Cast Lead, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi ordered the convening of five special investigative committees each headed by an officer with the rank of colonel to examine some of the serious allegations leveled against the army. One of the committees examined the use of phosphorus shells.

After three months, at the end of April of last year, then deputy chief of staff Maj. Gen. Dan Harel presented the committees' findings and with respect to phosphorus munitions said that they had found no instances in which shells were fired in violation of orders and in any event, they were fired in open areas.

Nonetheless, the report that the Israeli government gave to the United Nations last Friday explicitly states that the two senior officers were disciplined after one of the investigating committees noted among its findings that they approved the firing of phosphorus shells at Tel al-Hawa "exceeding their authority in a manner that jeopardized the lives of others."

1 comment:

pabelmont said...

So, the two officers "exceeded their authority in approving the use of phosphorus shells that endangered human life, the Israeli government report said."

One very much would like to read what their authority actually was. Hasbara (in Israel as in the US) makes such statements highly suspect. Were they ordered "never to use WP"? "Not to use WP on civilian targets"? Perhaps not. "Not to shoot WP at THIS target"? Could be. Or is the alleged "authority" w.r.t. WP weapons an after-the-fact invention?