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White Phosphorus Bombs, a Legacy of Suffering ( + VIDEO)

April 3rd, 2009

Yousef Al-Helou

Includes a Salem-News.com video produced by Tim King, on the Israeli attack on Gaza.

During Israel's 3-week long offensive on Gaza launched on December 27th, the Israeli army used internationally banned weapons according to foreign military and medical experts.

American made white phosphorus shells were used in populated areas across the Gaza strip, home to about 1.5 million people.

Nafez Abu Shaban, head of burns department at Shifa Hospital, Gaza's largest medical center, has treated dozens of patients who suffered sever burns, he is keeping a piece of phosphorus covered under sand in jar to prevent it from exposing to oxygen.

"Of course at the beginning of the war, we thought it was normal burns, but then patients came back to the hospital suffering from sever pain, and even some patients died, patients who suffer from 15% surface burns area should not die, so we started to ask why? Some of the doctors who came to Gaza to help us seemed to have experience said these burns as a result of the use of white phosphorus bombs," Doctor Nafez said.

More than 3 moths have passed since Israel ended its war, but it has left legacies of suffering and sad memories.

Life has returned to normality for many people; Sabah Abu Halima who was brunt from head to toe and lost her husband and 4 children is still in pain. She has weekly physiotherapy sessions at Shifa hospital. We visited her at her house in the northern Gaza strip town of Seyafa about 1 km from the strip's northern border with Israel.

She showed us around her house which was burnt as a result of the white phosphorus shells that fell on her family's 16 members through the roof.

"We had a happy home, I lived in this house in security with my husband and children. I was the happiest person in the world, but all of that changed when on January 4th the Israeli army entered our village and fired 2 phosphorus shells (that) penetrated our roof and brunt us while we were having our lunch, the fire was like lava, my family were burnt and their bodies turned to crisps." Sabah said.

The mournful mother who is still unable to walk or talk properly since her house was completely engulfed in flames, believes she is lucky to have found a photo of her youngest daughter, Shahed, who was only 15 months old. I asked her to comment on this writing which was left on the wall of her bedroom that reads "from the Israeli defense force, we are sorry!"

"I demand the whole world and international human rights organizations to sue the killers of my family, they killed so many innocent people who tried to rescue us, what was the guilt of my children and my baby Shahad? Their 'sorry' will not bring back my family. I'm still physiologically and mentally in pain. I can't even pick up a cup of tea now; my life will never be the same", Sabah answered with tears in her eyes.

Recently some Israeli soldiers admitted they killed civilians under the so-called rules of engagement. Acts of vandalism, violating medical ethics, using civilians as human shields and indiscriminate killing was obvious through the use of lethal force.

The use of internationally banned weapons by Israeli forces will leave many with long-term illnesses and it's believed that the area will remain contaminated, putting locals at risk of contracting sickness.

"We need to know to know, was uranium used? Were others banned weapons used? We need to know the long complication, will these weapons cause cancer? It’s the duty of the international community to investigate this matter. Now we hear many people are still afraid to eat vegetables planted in areas phosphorus was used because it might be contaminated with radiation" Dr. Nafiz added.

The war has changed the lives of many people like Sabah and left a story in every house in besieged Gaza, more than killed 1400 Palestinians were killed, most of whom were civilians including 313 children, and about 5500 were injured.

Sabah's tragedy is one of many documented by many international lawyers and fact finding missions, but weather those behind these crimes will be brought to justice remains to be seen!


This is the site for Michael Heart's: SONG FOR GAZA "We will not go down" which is used in the video.

Here is site for Yusuf Islam: yusufislam.com. Two songs from Yusuf, formerly known as Cat Stevens, are included in this video.

Yousef Al-Helou is a freelance journalist based in Gaza, you can reach him at this email address: ydamadan@hotmail.com. We at Salem-News.com greatly appreciate Yousef's contribution for our readers. The siege of Gaza is one of the most upsetting and seemingly avoidable military events since the dawn of the new Millennium. Having someone in the field there able to send fresh reports to us offers our viewers the freshest perspective from the scene that they are likely to find in western media.

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Source: http://www.salem-news.com/articles/april022009/yousef_willypete_4-2-09.php

Photo: Sabah Abu Halima lost her husband and 4 children during the Israeli attacks on Gaza. Photo: Yousef Al-Helou

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1965412184554229687&ei=3OPVSZ_iMJr22wK-g4XNDA&q=Gaza+Tim+King&hl=en ("Images of Gaza")

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