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I invite my visitors and readers to join me at Open Salon where I have a blog and at World Can't Wait. Signing up to comment or start your own blog at OS is very easy and fast and even easier at WCW.
I have for now, at least, migrated to OS and WCW rather like someone who has relocated their offices from one location to a new one. I will continue to have dennisloo.blospot.com, but for the indefinite future I will not be posting new things here.
There are close to 500 postings here at dennisloo.blogspot and it's therefore an archive of quite a bit of work. Feel free as always to explore it. Thanks!
Posted by Dennis Loo at 11:31 AM
Thursday, January 8, 2009
Monday, January 5, 2009
Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty Images
Israel rains fire on Gaza with phosphorus shells
From Times Online January 5, 2009
Israel is believed to be using controversial white phosphorus shells to screen its assault on the heavily populated Gaza Strip yesterday. The weapon, used by British and US forces in Iraq, can cause horrific burns but is not illegal if used as a smokescreen.
As the Israeli army stormed to the edges of Gaza City and the Palestinian death toll topped 500, the tell-tale shells could be seen spreading tentacles of thick white smoke to cover the troops’ advance. “These explosions are fantastic looking, and produce a great deal of smoke that blinds the enemy so that our forces can move in,” said one Israeli security expert. Burning blobs of phosphorus would cause severe injuries to anyone caught beneath them and force would-be snipers or operators of remote-controlled booby traps to take cover. Israel admitted using white phosphorus during its 2006 war with Lebanon.
The use of the weapon in the Gaza Strip, one of the world’s mostly densely population areas, is likely to ignite yet more controversy over Israel’s offensive, in which more than 2,300 Palestinians have been wounded.
The Geneva Treaty of 1980 stipulates that white phosphorus should not be used as a weapon of war in civilian areas, but there is no blanket ban under international law on its use as a smokescreen or for illumination. However, Charles Heyman, a military expert and former major in the British Army, said: “If white phosphorus was deliberately fired at a crowd of people someone would end up in The Hague. White phosphorus is also a terror weapon. The descending blobs of phosphorus will burn when in contact with skin.”
The Israeli military last night denied using phosphorus, but refused to say what had been deployed. “Israel uses munitions that are allowed for under international law,” said Captain Ishai David, spokesman for the Israel Defence Forces. “We are pressing ahead with the second stage of operations, entering troops in the Gaza Strip to seize areas from which rockets are being launched into Israel.”
The civilian toll in the first 24 hours of the ground offensive — launched after a week of bombardment from air, land and sea— was at least 64 dead. Among those killed were five members of a family who died when an Israeli tank shell hit their car and a paramedic who died when a tank blasted his ambulance. Doctors at Gaza City’s main hospital said many women and children were among the dead and wounded.
The Israeli army also suffered its first fatality of the offensive when one of its soldiers was killed by mortar fire. More than 30 soldiers were wounded by mortars, mines and sniper fire.
Israel has brushed aside calls for a ceasefire to allow humanitarian aid into the besieged territory, where medical supplies are running short.
With increasingly angry anti-Israeli protests spreading around the world, Gordon Brown described the violence in Gaza as “a dangerous moment”.
White phosphorus: the smoke-screen chemical that can burn to the bone
— White phosphorus bursts into a deep-yellow flame when it is exposed to oxygen, producing a thick white smoke
— It is used as a smokescreen or for incendiary devices, but can also be deployed as an anti-personnel flame compound capable of causing potentially fatal burns
— Phosphorus burns are almost always second or third-degree because the particles do not stop burning on contact with skin until they have entirely disappeared — it is not unknown for them to reach the bone
— Geneva conventions ban the use of phosphorus as an offensive weapon against civilians, but its use as a smokescreen is not prohibited by international law
— Israel previously used white phosphorus during its war with Lebanon in 2006
— It has been used frequently by British and US forces in recent wars, notably during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Its use was criticised widely
— White phosphorus has the slang name “Willy Pete”, which dates from the First World War. It was commonly used in the Vietnam era
Source: Times archives
And see this story too:
"Amid the tidal wave of human misery swamping Gaza City’s central hospital a horrified Norwegian volunteer doctor found a minute to type a text message on his mobile phone to friends back home.
“We are wading in death, blood, and amputees. Many children. A pregnant woman. I have never experienced anything so terrible. Now we hear tanks. Pass it on, send it around, shout it out. Anything. DO SOMETHING! DO MORE! We are living in a history book now, all of us.' It was signed Mads Gilbert, one of two Norwegian doctors toiling relentlessly alongside exhausted Palestinian medics."
Posted by Dennis Loo at 7:28 PM
Friday, January 2, 2009
From Press TV, 12/31/08:
Former top US diplomat John Bolton says Israeli strikes on Gaza have ignited a multi-front war which could lead to a US attack on Iran.
Bolton, a former US ambassador to the UN, accused Iran of supplying arms and equipment to Hamas and making efforts to develop a nuclear bomb.
"I don't think there's anything at this point standing between Iran and nuclear weapons other than the possibility of the use of military force possibly by the United States, possibly by Israel," Bolton told FoxNews.
"So while our focus obviously is on Gaza right now, this could turn out to be a much larger conflict," said the hawkish US official, adding, "We're looking at potentially a multi-front war."
Bolton made the allegations about Iran's nuclear program after the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), which represented the consensus of the 16 US intelligence agencies, concluded "with high confidence" that Iran halted its "nuclear weapons program" in 2003 and that the program remains frozen.
The controversial intelligence contradicted longstanding claims that Tehran was "working relentlessly toward building a nuclear bomb" and came as a blow to advocates of a military strike against Iran like Bolton.
When asked if Israel would be capable of taking out Iran's nuclear facilities, Bolton said he believed "Israel could destroy enough of Iran's program to give us three, four years, which puts time back on our side to look for a longer term solution."
Israel continues to mass its forces along the Gaza border in preparation for a ground offensive. More than 370 Palestinians have so far been killed in the assaults among which at least 62 were women and children.
Bolton's remarks came as speculation has been rife that an Israeli go-it-alone strike on Iran is in the offing. However, many analysts believe an Israeli attack on Iran would not be possible without a US green light.
Despite Israeli pressure for a military option against Iran, many US foreign policy experts have advised the President-elect Barack Obama to engage Iran with diplomacy -- a move which would not be well-received among powerful pro-Israeli lobbies in Washington.
Israel after five straight days of air attacks, on Wednesday rejected a proposal for a temporary ceasefire in its military onslaught in the Gaza Strip.
Israeli military is also gathering its gunboats near the Gaza port and its ground forces along the border in preparation for a possible ground offensive.
Earlier on Monday, a senior Iranian commander floated the idea that the time has come for Muslims to militarily stop Israeli crimes in Gaza.
"Only the military aid can save Gaza," said Brigadier General Mir-Faisal Baqerzadeh, Head of the Foundation for the Remembrance of the Holy Defense.
Posted by Dennis Loo at 5:22 PM