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30 January 2009  |     mail this article   |     print   |   
Unconventional weapons used in Gaza, says Norwegian surgeon based in Gaza
By Daan de Wit
Translated into English by Ben Kearney

Israel has likely made use of unconventional weapons in the Gaza War. This according to the Norwegian surgeon Mads Gilbert speaking to the French press agency AFP. Gilbert worked in the Al Shifa hospital in Gaza during the war. In an interview [video] he says: 'I can tell you that we have clear evidence that the Israelis are using a new type of very high explosive weapons which are called Dense Inert Metal Explosive (DIME) and are made out of a tungsten alloy. [...] Almost all of the patients we have received have these severe amputations. They seem to have been affected by this kind of weapon'.

Gilberts view is supported by 'Paola Manduca, a genetics professor and member of the Genova based ‘New weapons committee’ comprising researchers from all over the world studying the effects of new weapons on individuals and populations': 'We are in contact with the doctors working in Gaza, we have seen the images, already studied the weapons used by Israel in Lebanon in 2006 and we have reached the conclusion that the wounds we are seeing in Gaza are identical to those seen in Lebanon; there DIME and white phosphorous weapons were used'.

According to Erik Fosse, a doctor who worked alongside Gilbert in Gaza, powder from the extra hard tungsten metal found in the weapon has the effect of metal schrapnel but is not easy to surgically trace in the patient. 'It was as if they had stepped on a mine, but there was no shrapnel in the wounds," he said. "Some had lost their legs. It looked as though they had been sliced off. I have been to war zones for 30 years, but I have never seen such injuries before', says Fosse. 'It seems to be some sort of explosive or shell that disperses tiny particles at around 1x1 or 2x1 millimetres that penetrate all organs, these miniature injuries, you are not able to attack them surgically', according to the German doctor Jan Brommundt.

Gilbert expects that survivors will develop cancer as a consequence of exposure to these weapons. According to Fosse, there is a known risk of contracting cancer through exposure to the tungsten powder and 'these patients should be followed up to see if there are any carcinogenic effects'.

The accusation against Israel of having used DIMEs in Gaza in not new. Italian RaiNews investigated the issue back in October of 2006 in an English language video on the attacks on Gaza in 2006: 'After a long research, the investigation team of Rai News 24 has identified the possible cause of these effects: it seems a new weapon dropped by unmanned drones, which is precisely teleguided to the target'. In the piece security expert and former Major General of the Israeli Air Force, Professor Isaac Ben-Israel of the University of Tel Aviv, describes [11:00] how DIMEs are designed for heavily populated areas.

The weapon, which upon explosion has a blast radius of about four meters, was developed [video] as a precision bomb by the American Air Force Research Laboratory in cooperation with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. 'The problem is that most of the patients I saw were children. If they [the Israelis] are trying to be accurate, it seems obvious these weapons were aimed at children', says Erik Fosse. Gilbert in an interview with Sky News: 'This is an all out war against the civilian Palestinian population in Gaza and we can prove that with the numbers and you have to remember that the average age of the Gaza inhabitant is 17-years'.

Gilbert's is seen by some as controversial. He is a member of the left-leaning political party Rødt [Red] and has said that he is in favor of a terrorist attack on the U.S. According to a man who knows Gilbert well - the editor-in-chief of the Norwegian daily Nordlys - the making of that statement is the 'stupidest thing that Mads has ever done'. 'Gilbert told FOXNews.com that he is neither anti-Israeli nor anti-American. "I did my Ph.D. research in the United States at the University of Iowa in Iowa City," Gilbert said. "I have hundreds of American friends and I have many, many Jewish friends. "I have nothing against the people of Israel. I have nothing against the Jews. In fact, I think that one of the worst things that happened in history was the Holocaust." But Gilbert said he and NORWAC do not hide their pro-Palestinian bias in the Hamas-Israel conflict. "We support the Palestinian people, and that's absolutely no secret that we have been supporting the Palestinian people for many years," Gilbert said. "We have been working tirelessly to improve the medical conditions through systematic training and teaching.... "I do not support the wall on the West Bank and I do not support the siege of Gaza," he said. "This is very simple. If that is biased, so be it. Call me biased."'
Cluster munitions
Just as in 2006 in Lebanon, the Israeli army has deployed cluster munitions against Gaza. During the 2006 attacks on Hezbollah, the Israeli army carried out Operation Summer Rains against Gaza at the same time, followed by Operation Autumn Clouds. With Summer Rains, the stated goal of the operation was the same as that of the Gaza War of 2008, namely to prevent Hamas from being able to continue to fire Qassam rockets.

Phosphorous weapons
Just as in 2006 against Hezbollah (and just like the U.S. in Fallujah), Israel is alleged to have deployed white phosphorous in the Gaza War as a weapon. When white phosphorous comes in contact with the skin, it doesn't stop burning until it is burnt out. 'It is not unknown for them to reach the bone'. A description of a 14 year-old victim from Gaza: 'There were bits of blood and skin all over him. We couldn't tell what was his and what was other people'. 'Amnesty International's delegates found still-burning white phosphorus wedges all around residential buildings on Sunday. These wedges were further endangering the residents and their property; streets and alleys are full of children playing, drawn to the detritus of war and often unaware of the danger. [...] "Yesterday, 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 who is in Gaza as part of the four-person Amnesty International team', writes Amnesty. Marc Garlasco, a weapons expert for Human Rights Watch, called on Israel midway through the war to halt its use of white phosphorous. 'Donatella Rovera, Amnesty's researcher on Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, said the use could amount to a war crime'. Charles Heyman, a military expert and former major in the British Army, calls white phosphorous a 'terror weapon': 'If white phosphorus was deliberately fired at a crowd of people someone would end up in The Hague'. Israel and the United States have withdrawn from the World Court.

Investigation into war crimes
The UN suspects Israel of having committed war crimes and is demanding an investigation. 'Neither white phosphorus nor Dime bombs are illegal, but campaigners say the way they have been used, especially in Gaza's densely packed urban areas, could constitute a war crime', writes The Independent. A spokesperson for the Israeli army: 'We used munitions according to international law. They (Hamas) were committing war crimes by putting the civilians in the frontline. [...] Anticipating widespread criticism of disproportionate force in a war that left more than 1,300 people dead, at least 400 of them children, and another 5,300 wounded, Israel put Welfare Minister Isaac Herzog in charge of coordinating the Jewish state's humanitarian response', writes AFP.

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