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Saturday, 17 January 2009

White phosphorous

From Eva Bartlett, a freelancer and volunteer for ISM in Gaza: Read the rest here, including photos.

At 4 pm on January 4th, Lada 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 Lada. At the time, she was sitting with Mara, her 3 year old daughter, who survived the blast with equally disfiguring and painful burns. A swirl of angry red burn beards Mara’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 Lada’s father (44), 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 Lada’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.

And here, from the Guardian, the news we just do not get

The Palestinians say: "This is a war of extermination." They describe bombs which break into 16 parts, each part splintering into 116 fragments, the white phosphorus which water cannot put out; which seems to die and then flares up again.

No one I spoke to has any doubt that the Israelis are committing war crimes. According to the medics here, to reports from doctors inside the Gaza Strip and to Palestinian eye-witnesses, more than 95% of the dead and injured are civilians. Many more will probably be found when the siege is lifted and the rubble is cleared. The doctors speak of a disproportionate number of head injuries - specifically of shrapnel lodged in the brain.

They also speak of the extensive burns of white phosphorus. These injuries are, as they put it, 'incompatible with life'. They are also receiving large numbers of amputees. This is because the damage done to the bone by explosive bullets is so extensive that the only way the doctors in Gaza can save lives is by amputating.

One of the nurses said to me that the nurses and paramedics were horrified by what they were seeing. "We deal with cases all the time," she said. "But what we're seeing these days we've never seen before or imagined."

Upstairs a professor of economics, accompanying his brother, sees me staring at my notes and says: "Exaggerate. Whatever you write will not be as bad as the truth."

In the silence that followed someone put a mobile in my hand.

"Look!" On a rubble-strewn street lay the body of a roasted and charred child. Two bones were sticking out where her thighs had been. "The dogs ate her legs," he explains. For a moment I put a hand over my eyes. The phone goes round the table, each man gravely contemplating the burned child on the screen. Then someone asks: "What will it take to make the Israelis stop?"

• Ahdaf Soueif is a writer whose novel The Map of Love was shortlisted for the 1999 Booker prize


Anonymous said...


What will it take? Once these chemical war tools have been made to use against each other? They are here and they are real.... when will our turn come?

Here in the US we are killing each other for "material belongings!" Each and every person on this earth needs to pay attention to the things that have been going on. The monster of chemical warfare is not new,but just the idea that we have created this Monsterous way of dealing with each other makes me feel so helpless. This is all so very sad. The innocent lives,those poor babies. Thank You Sue for sharing what you have learned with anyone who wants to see..... ♥

Love to you Sue,

lizardrinking said...

Fan, your turn probably won't come except in the form of twin towers and so on, scary as it is.

The weapons are bought with US money by Israel and they also have access to US weaponry technology.

But, yes, it is terrifying. Why so many horrible ways to kill people? Of course, any form of killing is abhorrent, but some seem a hell of a lot worse than others.

Plus, I don't know that we are helpless. Of course we cannot fight chemical warfare if it lands on our doorstep, but we can write to our politicians and do some form of protest and comment and just let people know we are not happy with situations. Though it may not change things, we do not that we tried.

Thanks so much for dropping by, Jane ♥

lizardrinking said...

Oops, mistake about. It should read, 'Though it may not change thngs, we do know that we tried' LOL.

this cutie was taken by Crazyegg95 in 2005 and is from flickr