Amnesty International: Gaza white phosphorus shells were US made


Palestinian civilians and medics run to safety during an Israeli strike over a UN school in Beit Lahia, Gaza (Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images)

White phosphorus bombs used by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip were produced and supplied by American arms manufacturers, according to an Amnesty International report that called for a comprehensive arms embargo on Israel.

The report documented dozens of weapons used by Israel and Hamas during the three-week offensive, concluding that both groups had carried out attacks on civilians constituting war crimes punishable by international law. The UN Security Council should impose an embargo until a mechanism was established to ensure that military equipment was not used to carry out such violations, said Amnesty.

Donatella Rovera, who headed the Amnesty fact-finding mission, said that the group had systematically collected and catalogued shells across Gaza, and traced serial numbers back to factory production lines in the US.

“All of the evidence points to the failure of America to exercise due oversight of what they sell to Israel, which is in breach of their own laws… which require that weapons will not be sold to a country where they will be misused. And the manner in which these weapons were used in Gaza is a war crime.”

The human rights group said that weapons experts in Gaza found white phosphorus artillery shells marked M825 A1 – a US-made munition – throughout the coastal strip. The Times published photographic evidence that Israel was using the M825 A1 shells on January 8. At that time, Israeli military spokesmen denied that the weapon was being used, saying: “This is what we call a quiet shell – it has no explosives and no white phosphorus”.

Read moreAmnesty International: Gaza white phosphorus shells were US made

Israel admits troops may have used phosphorus shells in Gaza

Amnesty warns Israel could be guilty of war crimes

White phosphorus shells
Israeli soldiers prepare white phosphorus 155mm artillery shells (light green) as troops keep position on the Israel-Gaza border. Photograph: Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images

Israel has admitted – after mounting pressure – that its troops may have used white phosphorus shells in contravention of international law, during its three-week offensive in the Gaza Strip.

One of the places most seriously affected by the use of white phosphorus was the main UN compound in Gaza City, which was hit by three shells on 15 January. The same munition was used in a strike on the al-Quds hospital in Gaza City the same day.

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Under review by Colonel Shai Alkalai is the use of white phosphorus by a reserve paratroop brigade in northern Israel.

According to army sources the brigade fired up to 20 phosphorus shells in a heavily built-up area around the Gaza township of Beit Lahiya, one of the worst hit areas of Gaza.

The internal inquiry – which the army says does not have the status of the full investigation demanded by human rights groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch – follows weeks of fighting in which Israel either denied outright that it was using phosphorus-based weapons, or insisted that what weapons it was using “were in line with international law”.


Dr Ahmed Almi from the al-Nasser hospital in Khan Yunis describes serious injuries and chemical burns, with victims covered in a white powder that continues to burn long after initial exposure

Phosphorus is a toxic chemical agent that burns on contact with air and creates thick white smokes in order to hide troop movements. However phosphorus shells are largely indiscriminate scattering large numbers of fragments over a large area, which can cause severe damage to both human tissue and property.

As the Guardian reported yesterday, Palestinian doctors have reported treating dozens of cases of suspected phosphorus burns.

Read moreIsrael admits troops may have used phosphorus shells in Gaza

Israeli use of white phosphorus ‘undeniable’: Amnesty International

AMNESTY International has said that Israel’s use during the Gaza offensive of white phosphorus – banned under international law for use near civilians – was “clear and undeniable”.

Tension eased in Gaza early yesterday as a fragile ceasefire entered its third day. There were no reports of shooting or rockets for the first time since Israel launched its massive assault on the besieged territory on December 27.

“Amnesty International delegates visiting the Gaza Strip found indisputable evidence of widespread use of white phosphorus in densely-populated residential areas in Gaza City and in the north,” the rights group said.

“We saw streets and alleyways littered with evidence of the use of white phosphorus, including still burning wedges and the remnants of the shells and canisters fired by the Israeli army,” said Christopher Cobb-Smith, a weapons expert touring Gaza as part of a four-person fact-finding team. Human rights groups and medics in Gaza reported treating dozens of people suffering burns caused by white phosphorus during Israel’s 22-day offensive in Gaza that killed more than 1300 people.

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Robert Fisk: So, I asked the UN secretary general, isn’t it time for a war crimes tribunal? (Independent)

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Under international law, white phosphorus is banned for use near civilians, but is permitted for creating a smokescreen.

Israel has insisted that all weapons used in its Gaza war were within the bounds of international law.

Donatella Rovera, Amnesty’s researcher on Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, said the use of white phosphorus could amount to a war crime.

Read moreIsraeli use of white phosphorus ‘undeniable’: Amnesty International

Paul Craig Roberts: Are You Ready to Face the Facts About Israel?

By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS:
Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review.

“On October 21 (1948) the Government of Israel took a decision that was to have a lasting and divisive effect on the rights and status of those Arabs who lived within its borders: the official establishment of military government in the areas where most of the inhabitants were Arabs.”
Martin Gilbert, Israel: A History

I had given up on finding an American with a moral conscience and the courage to go with it and was on the verge of retiring my keyboard when I met the Rev. Thomas L. Are.

Rev. Are is a Presbyterian pastor who used to tell his Atlanta, Georgia, congregation: “I am a Zionist.” Like most Americans, Rev. Are had been seduced by Israeli propaganda and helped to spread the propaganda among his congregation.

Around 1990 Rev. Are had an awakening for which he credits the Christian Canon of St. George’s Cathedral in Jerusalem and author Marc Ellis, co-editor of the book, Beyond Occupation.

Realizing that his ignorance of the situation on the ground had made him complicit in great crimes, Rev. Are wrote a book hoping to save others from his mistake and perhaps in part to make amends, Israeli Peace/Palestinian Justice, published in Canada in 1994.

Rev. Are researched his subject and wrote a brave book. Keep in mind that 1994 was long prior to Walt and Mearsheimer’s recent book, which exposed the power of the Israel Lobby and its ability to control the explanation Americans receive about the “Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Read morePaul Craig Roberts: Are You Ready to Face the Facts About Israel?

Eye scans, fingerprints to control NZ borders

Border control staff will be able to use iris scans and finger printing to check passengers’ identities under major changes to New Zealand immigration rules.

Despite criticism from Amnesty International at the level of secrecy permitted, the changes look set to become law, with the National Party pledging its support.

Read moreEye scans, fingerprints to control NZ borders

Amnesty International: Ethiopian troops commit atrocities in Somalia

Amnesty Internationall: Ethiopian troops in Somalia slit throats of civilians, gouged eyes, gang raped

A leading human rights group on Tuesday accused Ethiopian troops in Somalia of killing civilians and committing atrocities, including slitting people’s throats, gouging out eyes and gang-raping women.

In a new report, Amnesty International detailed chilling witness accounts of indiscriminate killings in the Horn of Africa country and called on the international community to stop the bloodshed.

Ethiopia’s government said the report was unbalanced and “categorically wrong.”

The London-based rights group said testimony it received suggested all parties to Somalia’s conflict have committed war crimes. But it singled out Ethiopian troops, who are in the country to back Somalia’s U.N.-sponsored government, for some of the worst violations.

Somalia’s shaky transitional government invited Ethiopian forces into the country to help it battle Islamic insurgents. Somalia has been torn apart by years of violence between the militias of rival clan warlords.

The rights group said it obtained scores of reports of killings by Ethiopian troops that Somalis have described as “slaughtering like goats.” In one case, “a young child’s throat was slit by Ethiopian soldiers in front of the child’s mother,” the report says.

Read moreAmnesty International: Ethiopian troops commit atrocities in Somalia

CIA has 7,000 documents relating to rendition, detention, and torture programs

Documents suggest CIA stonewalled Congress

The Central Intelligence Agency has acknowledged having 7,000 pages of documents pertaining to President George W. Bush’s secret rendition and detention programs, according to three international human rights groups.

Amnesty International USA, the Center for Constitutional Rights and the International Human Rights Clinic at NYU School of Law made the claim following a summary judgment motion by the agency this week to avoid a lawsuit that seeks to force the nation’s top spy outfit to make the documents public under a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

“Among other assertions, the CIA claimed that it did not have to release the documents because many consist of correspondence with the White House or top Bush administration officials, or because they are between parties seeking legal advice on the programs, including guidance on the legality of certain interrogation procedures,” the groups wrote in a release. “The CIA confirmed that it requested-and received-legal advice from attorneys at the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel concerning these procedures.”

“For the first time, the CIA has acknowledged that extensive records exist relating to its use of enforced disappearances and secret prisons,” Curt Goering, AIUSA senior deputy executive director, said in a statement. “Given what we already know about documents written by Bush administration officials trying to justify torture and other human rights crimes, one does not need a fertile imagination to conclude that the real reason for refusing to disclose these documents has more to do with avoiding disclosure of criminal activity than national security.”

RAW STORY was the first news outlet to identify the exact location of one of the sites in the CIA’s secret prison network, which was revealed first by the Washington Post. Raw Story identified a prison in northeastern Poland, Stare Kiejkuty, that was used as a transit point for terror suspects.

Read moreCIA has 7,000 documents relating to rendition, detention, and torture programs

PENTAGON CAMPAIGN: Retired officers have been used to shape terrorism coverage from inside the TV and radio networks


A PENTAGON CAMPAIGN
Retired officers have been used to shape terrorism coverage
from inside the TV and radio networks.

Behind TV Analysts, Pentagon’s Hidden Hand

Correction Appended

In the summer of 2005, the Bush administration confronted a fresh wave of criticism over Guantánamo Bay. The detention center had just been branded “the gulag of our times” by Amnesty International, there were new allegations of abuse from United Nations human rights experts and calls were mounting for its closure.

The administration’s communications experts responded swiftly. Early one Friday morning, they put a group of retired military officers on one of the jets normally used by Vice President Dick Cheney and flew them to Cuba for a carefully orchestrated tour of Guantánamo.

To the public, these men are members of a familiar fraternity, presented tens of thousands of times on television and radio as “military analysts” whose long service has equipped them to give authoritative and unfettered judgments about the most pressing issues of the post-Sept. 11 world.

Hidden behind that appearance of objectivity, though, is a Pentagon information apparatus that has used those analysts in a campaign to generate favorable news coverage of the administration’s wartime performance, an examination by The New York Times has found.

Read morePENTAGON CAMPAIGN: Retired officers have been used to shape terrorism coverage
from inside the TV and radio networks

China executes 9 people a week, says Amnesty

China is executing at least nine prisoners a week and sentencing a further 35 to death, according to Amnesty International.

In a report published today, the human rights group says that while China tries to keep the figures a state secret, the country put to death at least 470 people last year, making it the world’s most prolific executioner,

At least 1,252 people were executed in 24 different countries last year, while 3,347 were sentenced to death in 51 countries. Amnesty adds that some 27,500 people are now on death row around the world.

Second to China was Iran with 317 executions, followed by Saudi Arabia on 143, Pakistan on 135 and the United States on 42.

Read moreChina executes 9 people a week, says Amnesty