Jump to content

White phosphorus used on Gaza civillians by Israel provided by US


bascule
 Share

Recommended Posts

I think searing the flesh off enemy civilians merely for expediting troop movements should be illegal, but maybe that's just me.

 

As do I, but you have yet to show that this is what the IDF did. As I said, you are welcome to your opinions. My opinion is that accidents happen in war, and some people burned themselves on flares, and the IDF did not intend for that to happen. Once we leave the realm of opinion and enter the realm of law, we have "innocent until proven guilty". Please quit insinuating that your opinions of the intent of the IDF is any kind of legal evidence.


Merged post follows:

Consecutive posts merged

Oh, and appeals to emotion are also not evidence, regardless of how emotive the images that you can conjure are.

Edited by Mr Skeptic
Consecutive posts merged.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

After you lied about what I said and put words in my mouth, never quoting me?

Then I'll quote you again. (From the OP)

Why are we giving military aid to countries perpetrating war crimes?

You didn't say it "should be" a war crime, you said they were committing a crime. There is no mention of opinion there, you stated quite clearly that the Israelis were committing war crimes.

 

Pangloss then said;

I haven't seen any evidence that they used it for the chemical effect on humans, rather than as an incidental part of their normal weaponry, e.g. smoke grenades.

And linked to the Convention. You replied with a link to AI and asked;

Is Amnesty International wrong?

You then further quoted Pangloss;

How is it "potentially a war crime" if it's a secondary effect as part of existing, established weaponry, and not banned by the Chemical Weapons Convention even though it's been in use since the 1920s?

And replied with the extract from the convention;

Article 1 of Protocol III of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons defines an incendiary weapon as 'any weapon or munition which is primarily designed to set fire to objects or to cause burn injury to persons through the action of flame, heat, or combination thereof, produced by a chemical reaction of a substance delivered on the target'. The same protocol also prohibits the use of incendiary weapons against civilians (already forbidden by the Geneva Conventions) or in civilian areas. This protocol is only binding upon those who have signed it; the United States, along with the other major military powers, has not signed or agreed to Protocol III and is not bound by it.

 

However, the use against military targets outside civilian areas is not explicitly banned by any treaty. There is a debate on whether white phosphorus should be considered a chemical weapon and thus be outlawed by the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) which went into effect in April 1997. The convention is meant to prohibit weapons that are "dependent on the use of the toxic properties of chemicals as a method of warfare" (Article II, Definitions, 9, "Purposes not Prohibited" c.).

Adding;

Does that answer your questions?

Again there is no ambiguity. You were backing up what you said in the OP, where you said the Israelis were perpetrating war crimes.

You also said;

Amnesty International's argument would seem to be that the intent was' date=' at least in certain cases, to burn the flesh of Palestinian civilians, as opposed to using it for a smokescreen. Israel's response has been "we didn't use white phosphorus" followed by "no comment" followed by "we used it for a smokescreen".

 

Who's right?[/quote']

Note here that if AIs accusation was correct, then it would be a war crime as defined under the Convention. As you said in the OP that Israel was "perpetrating war crimes" it's not an unreasonable thing to conclude that you think AI is right and that the Israelis are "perpetrating war crimes".

 

Now silly me, I made an assumption. I assumed that if somebody was perpetrating a crime, they must have broken a law. And if they were perpetrating war crimes, then they must have broken International Laws or Conventions. I have this idea that people should only be charged with a crime if it's actually against a law, but maybe that's just me.

 

Now you are saying that;

3) I believe the way it was used by the Palestinians should be construed as a war crime

Even though the use of WP is not banned and even though you cannot show any evidence that the way it was used by the Israelis contravened any Convention in any way.

What are you accusing me of? Having an opinion?

You're entitled to your opinion, however that doesn't make it fact.

 

Further, if it's only your "opinion" then it wold be much better not to start a thread by stating that a nation is committing war crimes.

 

Having said all that.

 

I add that I must commend bascule for his concern for civillian casualties. He argues from the heart and his honest care for the wellbeing of civillians in a war zone. I may not agree with his conclusions, but I concur emotionally.

Edited by JohnB
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 10 months later...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8490646.stm

 

Israel has revealed it has reprimanded two top army officers for authorising an artillery attack which hit a UN compound in Gaza last year.

 

In the attack on 15 January 2009 the compound was set ablaze by white phosphorus shells.

 

The admission is contained in the Israeli response to the UN's Goldstone report, which concluded both Israel and Hamas had committed war crimes.

 

Photo of said attack can be found in the first post of this thread.

 

To quote Colbert... I CALLED IT!!!

Edited by bascule
Link to comment
Share on other sites

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8490646.stm

 

A Hamas spokesman said the disciplinary action was "further admission of Israel's guilt" over alleged war crimes.

 

But he said he did not expect any further action to be taken against military officers.

 

He said Israel had paid the United Nations $10.5 million (£6.6 million) in damages to repair their compounds, which he called "hush money".

 

Ohhhh! Hamas says Israel is bad and there is a conspiracy to keep things quiet. Stop the presses!

 

I wonder if Hamas will admit to any wrongdoing, such as having military personnel stationed in civilian areas? The report asked questions of both Israel and Hamas.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

To quote Colbert... I CALLED IT!!!

I would hardly think that "calling" the findings of a biased investigation noteworthy. :rolleyes:

 

Given that;

1. The resolution that set up the "fact finding" mission was clearly biased. Full text here. It is noteworthy that only Israel was to be investigated. It is also noteworthy that number of UN member States with strong histories on Human Rights refused to support the resolution.

 

2. At least one member of the "fact finding" team had publicly stated that Israel was guilty of "war crimes" before joining the mission. Letter to Times Online, January 11, 2009. In any even remotely fair system, the mission member would have been recused as predjudiced.

 

3. Mary Robinson (former High Commissioner for Human Rights) refused to chair the mission stating “I am afraid the resolution is not balanced because it focuses on what Israel did, without calling for an investigation on the launch of the rockets by Hamas. This is unfortunately a practice by the Council: adopting resolutions guided not by human rights but by politics. This is very regrettable."

 

4. The mission acted as if they were getting honest information even though; "The Mission notes that those interviewed in Gaza appeared reluctant to speak about the presence of or conduct of hostilities by the Palestinian armed groups. Whatever the reasons for their reluctance, the Mission does not discount that the interviewees’ reluctance may have stemmed from a fear of reprisals." Paragraph 438.

 

5. The mission in particular excluded as an expert witness Colonel Richard Kemp, a world recognised authority on urban warfare. Justice Goldstone stated; "There was no reliance on Col. Kemp mainly because in our Report we did not deal with the issues he raised regarding the problems of conducting military operations in civilian areas and second-guessing decisions made by soldiers and their commanding officers "in the fog of war". We avoided having to do so in the incidents we decided to investigate." It must be fascinating to investigate an urban conflict without actually listening to the experts in urban conflict.

 

Or could it have been the good Colonel's statement on the BBC; "There has never been a time in the history of warfare when any army has made more efforts to reduce civilian casualties and death, than the IDF is doing today in Gaza."

 

6. Because of 2. the fact finding mission itself was in contavention of UN General Assembly Resolution A/Res/46/59. "Declaration on Fact-finding by the United Nations in the Field of the Maintenance of International Peace and Security." Text here.

 

Section 1 Paragraph 3 clearly states that : "Fact-finding should be comprehensive, objective, impartial and timely." Due to the pre admitted biases of members of the mission it can in no way be construed as either "objective" or "impartial".

 

7. To quote Paragraph 25 of the Missions report; "The findings do not attempt to identify the individuals responsible for the commission of offences nor do they pretend to reach the standard of proof applicable in criminal trials." Oh goody, they don't have enough for a court of law, so I guess public opinion will have to do.

 

8. The mission strongly crticises the Israeli legal system while ignoring the fact that said system is roughly the same in all western nations. It also ignores that Israeli Legal Authorities are currently investigating over 100 cases of possible abuse that have been referred to them. Such actions can only be seen as an attempt to predjudice the outcomes of those investigations. I'm sure that Justice Goldstone would not hesitate to come down heavily on an "inquiry" probing an ongoing police investigation in his own land.

 

9. The report states in Para 1209 "There is, in particular, a lack of clarity about the concept of promoting “terrorist activity”: since Israel claims there is no real division between civilian and military activities and it considers Hamas to be a terrorist organization, it would appear that anyone who supports Hamas in any way may be considered as promoting its terrorist activity." While it is factually true that Israel considers Hamas to be a terrorist organisation, well, so does the rest of the civilised world.

 

10. Even though the mission agreed to the phenomenal amounts of phone call, radio broadcasts and leaflet drops (Para 498) it found these insufficient. You be the judge:

• The Israeli armed forces made 20,000 calls on 27 December and 10,000 on 29 December 2008;

• 300,000 warning notes were dropped over the whole of the Gaza Strip on 28

December;

• 80,000 leaflets were dropped in Rafah on 29 December;

• In the context of the beginning of ground operations on 3 January, 300,000 leaflets were dropped in the entire Gaza Strip, especially in the northern and eastern parts;

• On 5 January, 300,000 leaflets were dropped in Gaza City, Khan Yunis and Rafah;

• In total some 165,000 telephone calls were made throughout the military

operations;348

• In total some 2,500,000 leaflets were dropped.

 

11. For some reason known only to itself the mission has applied the standards of the "International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights" to a war zone. As the Israelis correctly point out, applying Article 6 to a combat zone for the purposes of determining war crimes is nonsense. That a civillian casualty be considered as being "arbitrarily deprived of his life" under Article 6 has grave repercussions for any nation engaged in conflict.

 

So no, "calling" a pretty much forgone concluion from a biased investigation is not hard, is it?

 

For those interested, the full pdf of the Goldstone Report is here.

 

And Israels response is here.

 

Both are worth reading.

 

As a bit of background.

 

WP smoke shells were used by the IDF in the vicinity of the UN compound because their armour came under fire from anti tank missiles. As such weapons are line of sight, it can only be called "standard practice" to attempt to blind them. The mission did not find any evidence that the AT missiles weren't being used, only the UN workers "didn't hear them".

 

The contention that the IDF should have somehow known (perhaps telepathically?) exactly what weapons would be used against them in a given area and therefore should have had alternative means of dealing with them is patently absurd.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

WP smoke shells were used by the IDF in the vicinity of the UN compound because their armour came under fire from anti tank missiles. As such weapons are line of sight, it can only be called "standard practice" to attempt to blind them. The mission did not find any evidence that the AT missiles weren't being used, only the UN workers "didn't hear them".

 

The contention that the IDF should have somehow known (perhaps telepathically?) exactly what weapons would be used against them in a given area and therefore should have had alternative means of dealing with them is patently absurd.

 

International law prohibits the use of white phosphorus in heavily populated civilian areas, but allows it in open areas to be used as cover for troops.

 

I think that sums it up. Also, most tanks I know of can generate their own smoke cover if necessary. Usually they have smoke grenade canisters on the sides of the turret and can drip diesel fuel onto the exhaust manifold to create a nice white smoke cloud.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think that sums it up. Also, most tanks I know of can generate their own smoke cover if necessary. Usually they have smoke grenade canisters on the sides of the turret and can drip diesel fuel onto the exhaust manifold to create a nice white smoke cloud.

 

I don't think it is as conclusive as you say. What constitutes an "open area"? Thankfully, the original picture (post # 1) is still up. I see what looks like a parking lot/basketball court with possibly more open area behind and to the sides of where the flares are dropping (maybe this is where the IDF are retreating? Or maybe they are retreating behind the photographer?). Is there a definition of "open area"? I'll grant that this sure looks like a place where civilians could be found, but is also about as open as you will probably find in a city. Especially considering the fact that Hamas will only fight in urban areas?

 

Just to play devils advocate a bit, I'd also like to point out that smoke cover would be much more effective between the tanks and the attackers, than simply on top of the retreating tanks. If you are in the tank being shot at, I bet you'd personally want every possible advantage you could get to get the H-LL out of the crossfire. I know I would.

Edited by SH3RL0CK
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The white phosphorus was deployed by artillery. I doubt you can find artillery that can drop a white phosphorus shell into a convenient 100m square, rather than hitting buildings or civilians.

 

So I'd say an open square with a basketball court and a building around it probably counts as a "civilian area." From the first page of the thread:

 

The same protocol also prohibits the use of incendiary weapons against civilians (already forbidden by the Geneva Conventions) or in civilian areas.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The white phosphorus was deployed by artillery. I doubt you can find artillery that can drop a white phosphorus shell into a convenient 100m square, rather than hitting buildings or civilians.

 

So I'd say an open square with a basketball court and a building around it probably counts as a "civilian area." From the first page of the thread:

 

 

What kind of artillery? I bet they could easily be droped within 100m by 100m (or did you mean 10 m by 10m?). Either way, it appears from the picture the shells landed in the basketball court where they were intended as no buildings appear hit...

 

Deployment means aside, what size officiallyqualifies as an "open area"? I really don't know if/where these terms are defined, so until we have a definition in the treaty or convention, its just a matter of opinion (which is why I bolded part of your statement).

 

For what its worth, I agree that the use of WP this close to what are apparently civilian apartments does have a significant risk of civilian casualties. I'm not at all comfortable with that and I do tend to agree they should not have been used here.

 

But I think we must also take into consideration the difficult position the IDF are in, their choices range from bad to worse considering Hamas deliberately engages in urban warfare to generate these exact ethical dilemas. Its one thing to sit in our safe chairs behind the computer and speculate about possible alternatives to avoid injuring the civilians intentionally dragged into the conflict by Hamas. Its quite another to be calling a mother, father, wife, daughter, etc. to regretfully inform them their loved one has been killed (or captured and tortured) in combat. Then to further have to explain that although the use of WP might have saved their life, probably even without hurting any Palestinian civilians, you just couldn't take that risk.

 

Its an impossible choice either way.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here's the relevant part of the treaty:

 

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/policy/int/convention_conventional-wpns_prot-iii.htm

 

"Concentration of civilians" means any concentration of civilians, be it permanent or temporary, such as in inhabited parts of cities, or inhabited towns or villages, or as in camps or columns of refugees or evacuees, or groups of nomads.
It is prohibited in all circumstances to make any military objective located within a concentration of civilians the object of attack by air-delivered incendiary weapons.

 

It is further prohibited to make any military objective located within a concentration of civilians the object of attack by means of incendiary weapons other than air-delivered incendiary weapons, except when such military objective is clearly separated from the concentration of civilians and all feasible precautions are taken with a view to limiting the incendiary effects to the military objective and to avoiding, and in any event to minimizing, incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians and damage to civilian objects.

 

"All feasible precautions" makes this pretty broad, unfortunately.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

Incendiary weapon" means any weapon or munition which is
primarily
designed to set fire to objects or to cause burn injury to persons through the action of flame, heat, or combination thereof, produced by a chemical reaction of a substance delivered on the target. (a) Incendiary weapons can take the form of, for example, flame throwers, fougasses, shells, rockets, grenades, mines, bombs and other containers of incendiary substances.

(b) Incendiary weapons do not include:

(i) Munitions which may have incidental incendiary effects, such as illuminants, tracers,
smoke
or signalling systems;

 

I'm pretty sure white phosphorous weapons used as incendiary devices would look significantly different than those used for smoke production.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dunno. The smoke devices often just use a small charge to blast the phosphorus into the air, and white phosphorus burns intensely in air. So the smoke protection devices are effectively incendiaries as well, if there's anything nearby. They may try to fragment the phosphorus into smaller pieces so it burns up quickly, though.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just a few points.

 

1. The M825 WP shell is not an incendiary device as defined by the conventions as it is not "primarily" designed to burn things. It is a smoke shell. It does not discharge chunks of phosphorus, but 116 wedges of phosphorus impregnated felt.

 

2. It is an artillery shell and is therefore not "air delivered" and so again is not covered by the convention.

 

3. Israel is not a signatory to Prorocol III. (Neither is the US, BTW.)

 

So, Israel used a weapon that was not illegal in a way that is not illegal, according to the rules of a treaty that they didn't sign.

 

Can things be any more one sided?

 

Within the rules of warfare there is always a tradeoff. A balance has to be found between achieving the military objective and causing "unreasonable" damage to civillian property or persons. Carried too far, then a military force would be in the position of being fired upon but not being able to respond due to the proximity of civillians. Such an outcome is untenable.

 

I quote Para 451 of the UN report.

451. According to the International Crisis Group, for instance, a fighter for Islamic Jihad stated in an interview that “the most important thing is achieving our military goals. We stay away from the houses if we can, but that’s often impossible”, which suggests the absence of intent. The same NGO also reports an interview with three Palestinian combatants in January

2009 in which the fighters reportedly stated that rockets and mortars were launched in close proximity to homes and alleyways “in the hope that nearby civilians would deter Israel from responding”.

(Emphasis mine.)

 

The thing with using civillians as shields is that such practices are illegal. This is because, as it is not illegal to fire on human shields, it places the civillians in the direct line of fire.

 

Being very blunt about it. If civillians are deliberately placed so as to impede a military objective, then they die. The attacker should take steps to minimise the casualties, but if they die, they die. The defender, not the attacker is held legally and morally responsible for the deaths.

 

It can of course be argued that as HAMAS is not signatory to the Geneva Conventions they cannot be applied to the actions of HAMAS. This simply points out the glaring double standard of attempting to hold Israel to Protocols which they are not signatory to.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The M825 WP shell is not an incendiary device as defined by the conventions as it is not "primarily" designed to burn things. It is a smoke shell.

 

...that burns through human flesh

 

So, Israel used a weapon that was not illegal in a way that is not illegal, according to the rules of a treaty that they didn't sign.

 

Can things be any more one sided?

 

Whatever the "rules" may be, it doesn't change the fact that these weapons burn through human flesh (warning: graphic) and Israel fired them into urban areas where civilians were present.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hm, so the first argument was that the Israelis were committing "war crimes" or acting "against the rules of warfare".

 

Since that has been shown to be untrue, it now doesn't matter what the "rules" are, the Israelis are wrong anyway.

 

For someone who is usually so big on reason and logic, your arguments have been entirely emotional. Are you an anti semite, or just anti Israel?

 

Bascule, emotionally I happen to agree with you. It is a terrible thing that these weapons have to be used near civillians. It's always bad when civillians get caught between warring parties. But you are blaming the wrong people.

 

If HAMAS came out in the open and fought like men instead of hiding behind civillians these injuries would not occur. The IDF cannot legally or morally be expected to take fire from people positioning themselves near civillians and not return fire.

 

The IDF came under fire and used smoke shells to allow them to break the engagement. Are you suggesting that they should have withdrawn while still under fire and without cover? Are you suggesting that they should not have returned fire?

 

You're quick to condemn. So come on General, your troops are under fire and you want to get them out. What are you going to do? Tell me what the Israelis should have done.

 

And BTW, if you're really so pissed about it, read up on the "Shake and Bake" tactics used by the US in Iraq. These tactics are not illegal because America hasn't signed Protocol III either.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Whatever the "rules" may be, it doesn't change the fact that these weapons burn through human flesh and Israel fired them into urban areas where civilians were present.

 

That is true, but so what? Hamas launches rockets, not towards military targets which might be near civilians, but directly at civilians. Shall I put up graphic links to show how people (i.e. Israeli children) might be hurt by these?

 

As has repeatedly been pointed out in this thread, there is very clearly a difference in intent between Hamas and Israel regarding civilians. Yet for some people it is Israel who are considered evil while Hamas receives no condemnation at all. Certainly there is room to criticise the IDF here, but the context is that the IDF is in a no-win situation regardless of what they do. Had they not used WP, I'm sure they would have been criticised for using lead, rather than rubber bullets. Or for using guns and bullets rather than flowers and feathers to retaliate...

 

I understand your concern for civilians. But I really can't understand why you condemn the IDF so severely. Is there something personal about this?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hm, so the first argument was that the Israelis were committing "war crimes" or acting "against the rules of warfare".

 

Since that has been shown to be untrue

 

More like it's been shown you disagree with Goldstone report which said it was a war crime, but I digress...

 

it now doesn't matter what the "rules" are, the Israelis are wrong anyway.

 

For someone who is usually so big on reason and logic, your arguments have been entirely emotional. Are you an anti semite, or just anti Israel?

 

Uhh, perhaps there's another alternative you haven't considered: I'm anti-white phosphorus? Nice calling me a racist there though...

 

I'm not a big fan of firebombing. Now proceed with another few rounds of definition mincing about why white phosphorus isn't firebombing. Sure looks like firebombing to me...

 

And BTW, if you're really so pissed about it, read up on the "Shake and Bake" tactics used by the US in Iraq. These tactics are not illegal because America hasn't signed Protocol III either.

 

Believe me I was just as mad about America's use of white phosphorus during Iraq as I was about this. I'm also not a fan of depleted uranium.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not a big fan of firebombing. Now proceed with another few rounds of definition mincing about why white phosphorus isn't firebombing. Sure looks like firebombing to me...

 

I see more smoke than fire, but maybe that's just me. Also, I see the WP bouncing, also not how firebombing works. There's a reason they put sticky stuff into gasoline to make napalm.


Merged post follows:

Consecutive posts merged

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incendiary_bomb

Incendiary bombs, also known as firebombs, were used as an effective bombing weapon in World War II [1]. The large bomb casing was filled with small sticks of incendiaries (bomblets), and designed to open at altitude, scattering the bomblets in order to cover a wide area.
An explosive charge would then ignite the incendiary material
, often starting a raging fire.

 

That is how firebombs work.

Edited by Mr Skeptic
Consecutive posts merged.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Now proceed with another few rounds of definition mincing about why white phosphorus isn't firebombing.

 

I see more smoke than fire, but maybe that's just me. Also, I see the WP bouncing, also not how firebombing works. There's a reason they put sticky stuff into gasoline to make napalm.


Merged post follows:

Consecutive posts merged

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incendiary_bomb

Incendiary bombs, also known as firebombs, were used as an effective bombing weapon in World War II [1]. The large bomb casing was filled with small sticks of incendiaries (bomblets), and designed to open at altitude, scattering the bomblets in order to cover a wide area.
An explosive charge would then ignite the incendiary material
, often starting a raging fire.

 

That is how firebombs work.

 

Looks like I called it again...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

White phosphorus ignites on contact with air. There's no need for the explosive charge, although one is used to disperse the phosphorus bits.

I'm pretty sure you know that explosives are not used to set things ablaze.


Merged post follows:

Consecutive posts merged
Looks like I called it again...

 

Of course you called it... When you make a mistake, people call you on it.

Edited by Mr Skeptic
Consecutive posts merged.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Do you have any idea how much more damage that would do if the falling bits exploded on impact releasing sticky burning substances, rather than relatively harmless things that just bounce off of things then sit and smolder? It does not look like something designed to cause fire damage.

 

And all you have done is repeat yourself, without addressing anything I said.

 

Next, you'll be saying a car is designed to bludgeon pedestrians to death. There's even pictures!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Do you have any idea how much more damage that would do if the falling bits exploded on impact releasing sticky burning substances, rather than relatively harmless things that just bounce off of things then sit and smolder? It does not look like something designed to cause fire damage.

 

And all you have done is repeat yourself, without addressing anything I said.

 

Next, you'll be saying a car is designed to bludgeon pedestrians to death. There's even pictures!

 

*facepalm*

 

Hey, if you think weapons that can burn human flesh are "relatively harmless things" that's your prerogative. Absurd metaphors are great too... nuclear weapons just release a few relatively harmless free neutrons, what's the problem there?

 

Clearly this conversation is no longer productive.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.