Israel Again Breaches Geneva Convention

I’d like your opinions.

Israel today shelled the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) with white phosphorus:

Mr Ban (Ki Moon) told reporters in Tel Aviv that he had expressed “strong protest and outrage” to the Israeli Government over the shelling of the compound and was demanding an investigation. He said that Ehud Barak, the Israeli Defence Minister, had told him it was “a grave mistake”.

UNWRA, which looks after some four million Palestinian refugees around the region, suspended its operations in Gaza after the attack, in which it said three of its employees had been injured.

Chris Gunness, an UNRWA spokesman, said that the building had been used to shelter hundreds of people fleeing Israel’s 20-day offensive in Gaza. He said that pallets with supplies desperately needed by Palestinians in Gaza were on fire.

“What more stark symbolism do you need?” he said. “You can’t put out white phosphorus with traditional methods such as fire extinguishers. You need sand, we don’t have sand.”

The Israeli military has denied using white phosphorus shells in the Gaza offensive, although an investigation by The Times has revealed that dozens of Palestinians in Gaza have sustained serious injuries from the substance, which burns at extremely high temperatures.

The Geneva Convention of 1980 proscribes the use of white phosphorus as a weapon of war in civilian areas, although it can be used to create a smokescreen. The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said today that all weapons used in Gaza were “within the scope of international law”.

A grave mistake eh? Like the shelling of Palestinians the IDF had themselves led to shelter? Like the shelling of UN-run schools, which by every account had no involvement in shelling Israel or its forces? I don’t think the IDF makes mistakes – I think past history shows it does as it pleases, and human rights or even human decency be damned.

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29 responses to “Israel Again Breaches Geneva Convention

  1. I’ll bet you don’t publish this one,
    But I’ll write it anyway just to make you read it!
    HAMAS is using the UN compounds as weapons stores. it’s been documented thousands of times over the years,
    Hamas uses UN and Red Cressent ambulances as APC’s (Armored personel carriers) to move terrorists from one place to the next along with loads of ammo and using the redcross as a sheild.
    they have also used Ambulances to transport bombs, and bombers into Israel many times.
    Hamas uses UN school compounds as launch sites while the kids are in the place using them as human sandbags,
    soi who broke what laws?
    well it must be easier for you to blame the Jews

  2. in answer to your claim of using WP
    here comes the official paper on it

    Israelis Use of White Phosphorous Airburst Smoke Screening in Gaza
    Accrding to IHS Jane’s Weapons Technology Analyst commenting on the discussions surrounding the Israeli use of white phosherous agents in Gaza, “The round so far specified as being fired are the M825A1 which is purely an air-burst white phosherous smoke projectile.” the analyst said. ‘It’s construction and function is highly elaborate and I would say deliberately so to make it inappropriate for anti-personnel use’. M825A1 shell is not defined as an incendiary weapon by the Third Protocol to the Convention on Conventional Weapons because its principal use is to produce smoke to protect troops. White Phosphorous weapons banned by theprotocol are ground or low level burst weapons designed primarily for anti-personnel use. The primary function of the M825A1 is for the rapid creation of a highly effective, but short lived visible and infrared smoke screen.

    During the opening stages of Cast Lead land campaign, these munitions were employed at relatively low altitude, creating optimal obscuration for extended period of time. However, at the later stages, smoke screens were activated at higher elevation, thus eliminating much of the risk of collateral damage to non combatants. The activation height is determined by setting the time delay fuse for shorter activation.
    According to the London Times, Israel is using white phosphorus shells. The Times claimed these shells are clearly seen on stockpiles used by Israel’s artillery units operating near Gaza. The newspaper said Palestinian citizens had suffered burns caused by the weapons, claiming ‘The use of WP against civilians is prohibited under international law”. Phosphorus ignites on contact with oxygen and, according to the Times, is being used by the Israeli military to create smokescreens to allow its ground forces to operate.
    Israeli military spokeswoman referred to the projectile identified by the Times as a ‘quiet shell’. “It is empty, it has no explosives and no white phosphorus. There is nothing inside it… We shoot it to mark the target before we launch a real shell. We launch two or three of the quiet shells which are empty so that the real shells will be accurate. It’s not for killing people.”

  3. given Hamas’s consistent, and well documented efforts to use schools, hospitals, factories, and homes for their bases. I think it is entirely believable to that they did indeed use the compound for shelter and fighting.
    Your use of the Geneva convention is somewhat troubling as we have previously discussed that the entire point of the Convention was to protect civilians by making the penalties for non uniformed combatants especially high, so that they would leave civilian populations alone and fight in the countryside. Hamas strategy all along has been to hide in homes, mosques and hospitals and than milk the new reels of collateral damage for sympathy. The civilian deaths are entirely on the heads of Hamas in this conflict and arguing otherwise simply reinforces their strategy of using human shields.

  4. I often wonder whether modern Israeli policy towards the Palestinians is coloured by the Torah’s record of the destruction of the Canaanites:

    “When the Lord your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations…then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them and show them no mercy.” Deuteronomy 7:1-2,

    “…do not leave alive anything that breaths. Completely destroy them…as the Lord your God has commanded you…” Deuteronomy 20:16

  5. The civilian deaths are entirely on the heads of Hamas in this conflict and arguing otherwise simply reinforces their strategy of using human shields.

    Such an ill-informed, straw man argument which justifies unlimited aggression by Israel against innocent civilians. And they have a long, proud track record of milking it to their best advantage too.

    It has been widely documented that no such behaviour was conducted at the UN institutions in question, and I wonder where that leaves your argument.

  6. @Robert – The moment you can provide evidence to back up your argument, I’ll be pleased to take it further.

    Noone here is saying Hamas are a bunch of angels – far from it. Living somewhere run by Hamas must be quite horrific, but their election was democratic, and the way Blair has presented Fatah’s West Bank regime as the complete opposite is a complete fantasy. Neither fact justifies the wanton massacre of innocent civilians.

  7. 1 look at my page the proof is there.
    as for the statements from Janes they have a web site as well

  8. Strawman argument? Name one attack in which Hamas members were killed in which civilians were not also hit? Calling something a “strawman argument” does not refute if Jason. Your casual acceptance of Hamas’s tactics leaves you as morally culpable as them by defending it.
    http://tinyurl.com/88odtm
    http://tinyurl.com/83eu98
    http://tinyurl.com/7kwem9
    and if they are the democratically elected rulers of Gaza, than their rocket fire into Israel is a declaration of war and than Israel is fully justified in using the army to route them. Unless you are saying the discharge of thousands of rockets into your neighboring country is an act of peace? If you wanted to take your argument further, the fair election of Hamas makes the Palestinian people fully culpable as well, since this is an expression of their voting will…

  9. Here’s some answers from moderate US Jews :-
    What could Israel have done instead?
    http://www.jstreet.org/page/what-could-israel-have-done-instead

    I would note three things.
    1/ the IDF has been found guilty of using human shields in Israeli courts and this has also been documented in Gaza.
    2/ The point of the Gaza campaign is to ‘terrorise’ Gazans, to make them turn away from Hamas.
    3/ A range of very new weapons are essentially being tested by Israel and will give useful info to their arms manufacturers and their American partners.

    + see this video by an ex-Israeli soldier if you want to know about the reality of occupation:- http://paulcanning.blogspot.com/2009/01/citizen-journalism-reality-of.html

  10. to answer paul
    if I’m puching you in the face every day for a couple of years , are you going to sit back and take it when i start kicking you in the balls? and hte face?
    I doubt it if you are human.
    as for the found guilty? where the hell was that and what if it did happen in the past have to do with this past operation where hamas came out ands stated to the world that they were using the people of gaza as human sheilds?
    what new weapons? the bunker busters? they ain’t new they is just improved!

  11. Robert

    As I suggest, look at the j-street text on how to deal with this ‘puching you in the face’ scenario. War is not always the answer and these jews have other solutions for the Hamas rockets I assume you’re talking about.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/4333982.stm
    on the 2005 Israeli supreme court – a decision the IDF appealed as they wanted to keep doing it.

    And see Breaking the Silence, a former Israeli soldier group, for testimony on how they are still doing it (and worse) http://www.breakingthesilence.org.il/

    Read about White Phosphorus etc here (an Israeli newspaper)
    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1055927.html

  12. I’ll stick with the facts.
    Janes is the offical source for anything military in the world. they aren’t looking for readers and the rest like a newspaper is,
    as for stopping the rockets “YOUR WAY” i’d love to see you try….

  13. Er, it’s not my way – I’m pointing to a big slice of American jewish opinion, which Jstreet represents. And the specific link is to what could have been done – but wasn’t. This situation was not inevitable.

  14. big slice? ROFLMFAO! the mainstream American jew supported Israel in this action and even now they continue to say should have gone all the way but it was smart to stop for the obama thing today as to keep him off the fire so early in the game .
    if it hadn’t been for today the American people as a whole would have said GO Israel.

  15. “Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.”

    “We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort — even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. “

  16. Paul, I have read the Jstreet report and think that it’s pretty optimistic about how much the attitude on the Palestinian street is going to change. However I agree that increased trade going to help the common man and keep them employed. However no one addressed the fact that Hamas ran off the EU border inspectors and even with the naval blockade have brought in thousands of rockets that they fired indiscriminately into Israel. Nor do they mention Egypt despite the fact that they don’t allow Palestinians to immigrate to Egypt if they want to get out. Or Egypt’s tacit support for Hamas re-arming. No the problem is that the jews are the only ones that can save Palestine, but the only people that the Palestinians would never trust. Take for example the farms that were quite expensively saved for the Palestinians when gaza was handed over and than stripped bare and ruined by the same Palestinians .

  17. if it hadn’t been for today the American people as a whole would have said GO Israel.

    Sorry but you have no evidence whatsoever to make such a preposterous claim.

  18. @Robert – I guess your argument is well and truly crushed:

    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.

    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.

  19. not crushed just misunderstood by a civilan who never served in the armed forces of any country,
    the shells are smoke shells as per JANES and the post i added to the comments here, the pics janes got from the conflict prve it as fact that it was WHITE SMOKE shells.

  20. once again for those that missed it

    Israelis Use of White Phosphorous Airburst Smoke Screening in Gaza
    Accrding to IHS Jane’s Weapons Technology Analyst commenting on the discussions surrounding the Israeli use of white phosherous agents in Gaza, “The round so far specified as being fired are the M825A1 which is purely an air-burst white phosherous smoke projectile.” the analyst said. ‘It’s construction and function is highly elaborate and I would say deliberately so to make it inappropriate for anti-personnel use’. M825A1 shell is not defined as an incendiary weapon by the Third Protocol to the Convention on Conventional Weapons because its principal use is to produce smoke to protect troops. White Phosphorous weapons banned by theprotocol are ground or low level burst weapons designed primarily for anti-personnel use. The primary function of the M825A1 is for the rapid creation of a highly effective, but short lived visible and infrared smoke screen.

    During the opening stages of Cast Lead land campaign, these munitions were employed at relatively low altitude, creating optimal obscuration for extended period of time. However, at the later stages, smoke screens were activated at higher elevation, thus eliminating much of the risk of collateral damage to non combatants. The activation height is determined by setting the time delay fuse for shorter activation.
    According to the London Times, Israel is using white phosphorus shells. The Times claimed these shells are clearly seen on stockpiles used by Israel’s artillery units operating near Gaza. The newspaper said Palestinian citizens had suffered burns caused by the weapons, claiming ‘The use of WP against civilians is prohibited under international law”. Phosphorus ignites on contact with oxygen and, according to the Times, is being used by the Israeli military to create smokescreens to allow its ground forces to operate.
    Israeli military spokeswoman referred to the projectile identified by the Times as a ‘quiet shell’. “It is empty, it has no explosives and no white phosphorus. There is nothing inside it… We shoot it to mark the target before we launch a real shell. We launch two or three of the quiet shells which are empty so that the real shells will be accurate. It’s not for killing people.”

  21. Jason, I don’t think that Hamas or Israel recognizes the GC so as a legal point I think it’s moot Jason.
    http://tinyurl.com/cypr3k

    Nor do I think so niceties ever survive the battle field, such as your not allowed to double tap, that is to say shoot someone on the ground to make sure they are dead. However this is standard practice for all militaries while clearing an area and being short of people. The point of the Geneva conventions was to penalize non uniformed combatants and to convince both sides to keep hostilities constrained to the militaries. Since Hamas chooses to fight exclusively as non uniformed combatants one might question the sanity of anyone who defends them as a fighting force, while quoting international law.
    Munitions are deadly, they are designed to be, and they are successful. The fact that Israel has to clear civilian territories of rocket launching platforms should raise questions to the agency that is overseeing them. Chiefly the UN, the same agency that has overseen their welfare since 1947 and has failed to both broker a fair peace, or find homes for the refugees that have quadrupled in size since the camps inception.

  22. January 22, 2009
    NEWS ANALYSIS
    At Arab Gathering on Development, the Talk Is All About Gaza
    By MICHAEL SLACKMAN
    New York Times
    KUWAIT — Two and a half years ago, a group of Arab leaders decided it was time to try to set aside their political differences and deal with what was ailing their countries: widespread illiteracy, ineffective schools, unemployment, inadequate water and food resources.
    So they called for an extraordinary summit meeting to be held in Kuwait City this week. The plan was for the 22 members of the Arab League to agree on concrete ways to improve the lives of their 330 million citizens. Instead, they bickered over how to handle the Gaza crisis.
    At nearly every turn, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict remains an obstacle to development in the Middle East. It inflames public emotions, serves as a convenient distraction for leaders unable or unwilling to reform their nations and is a tool in the hands of those seeking to promote their own regional standing, often at the expense of the Palestinians.
    “The Arab-Israeli conflict reinforces the puritanical, radical, traditional and also the authoritarian because everyone holds onto what they have and there is no third way,” said Shafeeq Ghabra, a political science professor at Kuwait University. “Basically, this is a region stuck in time, stuck in space and in history and in conflict.”
    When the presidents, kings and emirs arrived in Kuwait, they were scheduled to discuss regional cooperation to improve education, ease trade and travel barriers, improve food security and lift their citizens out of poverty. But they were barely talking to one another because of differences over how to deal with Israel’s offensive in Gaza.
    “Yes, milit ary occupation is a serious matter that needs to be addressed,” said Amr Moussa, the secretary general of the Arab League. “But backwardness in our societies needs to be taken care of.”
    There was a suffocating sense of despair hanging over the Kuwait meeting as the Gaza crisis eclipsed every other issue.
    “The Arab ship is sinking,” Mr. Moussa said on the first day of the conference.
    The Arab world has been in the same self-defeating fight for decades. In 1975 the Arab League took out an advertisement in The New York Times to celebrate its 30th anniversary. The headline said, “Political, economic and social unity in action.” The text said solving the Palestinian crisis was the group’s “first priority.”
    But that headline was as much an illusion then as the headlines declaring that Arab leaders had reconciled their differences after the20first day of the conference. The flash point has not always been Israel. But the victim has always been a unified effort to improve regional economic and social development.
    Arab leaders certainly have the ability to improve conditions at home, even amid the feuding. In that way, the Palestinian cause can become a useful distraction for authoritarian rulers reluctant to make changes that risk instability, or that might strengthen regional competitors.
    The need for regional cooperation rests on data. Prime Minister Fouad Siniora of Lebanon said that the Arab states would need to create 50 million jobs in the next 20 years simply to keep unemployment at current levels. He said Arab universities were collapsing and scientific research was almost nonexistent.
    By many measures, the Arab world is slipping further and further behind in its ability to compete globally. Perhaps the single greatest drag on the region, one that afflicts wealthy Persian Gulf states as well as poorer countries like Egypt, is the quality of schools. International trends in math and science among fourth- and eighth-grade students show that in math, for example, among fourth-graders, the bottom four nations out of 36 were Tunisia, Kuwait, Qatar and20Yemen. In science, eighth-grade students in Qatar placed second to last.
    Since the 1940s, Arab leaders have been promising the creation of an economic union along the lines of what the Europeans have achieved. They have repeatedly said that Arabs should invest in and trade with Arabs first.
    They were still talking about that this week.
    In Kuwait, there were complaints that the region had failed to coordinate its electric grids, transportation systems and customs regulations. But the Palestinian issue so consumed the meeting they barely had the chance to discuss such matters.
    “We have to be aware as Arabs that the absence of an Arab solution to the Palestinian issue also means the absence of continuous progress, major development, sustainable growth and agreement within our Arab world,” Mr. Siniora said at a conference in Kuwait before the summit meeting.
    While no one was arguing that the Arab states should stop fighting for a Palestinian homeland, the summit meeting’s participants virtually begge d leaders to separate political differences from common economic needs. Many speakers at the conference had said that economic, social and human development could only help bolster the region’s position in its confrontation with Israel. But no one actually offered a compromise on how to overcome those differences.
    The sense of urgency in addressing the developmental issues has been compounded by the economic crisis. At the opening of the summit meeting, officials said that Arab countries had so far lost about $2.5 trillion, and that 60 percent of the development projects in the oil-rich gulf had been postponed or canceled.
    There is no one who would argue that resolving the Palestinian issue would suddenly produce a united Arab world. But the issue continues to play havoc with agendas and expose hypocrisies.
    “We have written many times, ‘If Hezbollah loves the Palestinians so much they want to fight Israel, why can’t they fight to give the Palestinians human rights in L ebanon?’ ” said Mohammad al-Rumaihi, a newspaper editor in Kuwait. But pressure over the issue is relentless.
    “The masses,” he said, “their hearts are with the Palestinians.”
    .

  23. I think that all this back and forth arguing is pointless. FIRST of all, the Israelis should not even be on that land, they are breaking the codes of the Geneva Convention in doing so. SECOND even AFTER stealing land as halocaust retribution (perfectly legitimate, but to the extent in which their retribution has been given? I do NOT think so), they should expect resistance. I believe that both sides of this argument are completely guilty of murder and what not, but I have to say, I feel like the Palestinians are MUCH more justified in the DEFENSE of their rightful lands. In this conflict it is hard not to take a side, and I am doing my best, but I am slightly more in favor of the Palestinian side. Just remember, that the Israelis are JUST as much, if not MORE, of terrorists than the Palestinians, the only difference is, that they are RICH terrorists, thanks to the hard earned and obliviously donated American dollars. The Palestinian “terrorism” is merely a desperate attempt of a poor nation doing their best to pull together a military defense, to a military attack. YES I am on the Palestinians side, but that does not go to say I am for violence. I am for peace, I believe that BOTH sides of this conflict are responsible to putting down the weapons and attempting to mediate this horrible past. BUT the sad, sad, and very unfortunate truth, is that the colony of Israel, being 100% backed by imperialist America, is VERY unlikely to be willing to make any sacrifices in attempting to make peace.

  24. on what land are you talking about? we are in Israel. the land you talk about has been ours , the Gaza strip was egyptian and it has the same borders more or less that it did pre 67. when it was used as a base for egyptian funded raids.
    the Negev has been our far longer then you might think, and there was nothing where we are now when it wasn’t in our hands except for an old base or two

  25. @Calum, you probably need to do more research into the current history of Israel it’s more complicated that you are writing. Also you have no idea what the geneva convention is, the only thing Israel is in violation of is some UN resolutions. More importantly you fail to grasp the situation that the Arabs have created by using the Palestinians as pawns.

  26. Robert Goldman,

    Protocol III distinguishes between white phosphorous non-incendiary “munitions” and white phosphorous “weapons” . The use of the former is not unlawful in civilian areas providing certain criteria are met whereas the use of the latter is always illegal, if delivered by air, and usually illegal if delivered by ground.

    The first point regarding the M825A1 shell, as defined by Janes is that under Protocol III it is a non-incendiary white phosphorous munition.

    Thus wether it is lawful or not depends on the method of its use.

    According to recognised principles of customary international law:

    “Due care and attention must always be paid to ensuring that white phosphorous munitions do not cause harm to civilians or civilian structures, in line with the principle of distinction between combatants and non-combatants. There are of course no exceptions to this rule, and it applies even to the use of smoke-producing agents, illuminators, and attacks on military targets.”

    Thus, while the use of the non-incendiary M825A1 white phosphorous shell in a civilian area is not by itself unlawful, it is argued *air burst delivery* of these munitions cannot guarantee localisation or discrimination and therefore violates IHL. This is the method of delivery the IDF used.

    The second point to note is that the Israeli spokeswoman stated:

    “It is empty, it has no explosives and no white phosphorus. There is nothing inside it… We shoot it to mark the target before we launch a real shell. We launch two or three of the quiet shells which are empty so that the real shells will be accurate. It’s not for killing people.”

    She clearly is mistaken or not talking about the M825A1 shell since Janes categorically states it is a white phosphorous munition. In fact, the Times article citing Janes is a rebuttal of this staement.

  27. Then for god’s sake just SHARE the god damn land……

  28. we have been sharing. it’s just they don’t want to share they want it all. from the river to the sea….

  29. People used to say that all Germans were guilty of war crimes against the jews which was far from the truth but it is plain to see that Israeli jews who justify breaking the Geneva convention are nothing more than being War criminals themselves and I pray you will one day get your just deserts, it will be well justified however evil your end will be. War on terror is a sham, it is the terrorists who wage this war on civilians constantly. I hate my own country for not only being blind to this criminal activity but actually helping in carrying it out. It is so sickening. Your propaganda is not going to wash the guilt off you shouldnt be there so do us all a favour and stop destroying the world.

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