As it declares a unilateral ceasefire, Jerusalem faces a UN call for a war crimes investigation
By Raymond Whitaker
Sunday, 18 January 2009
A Palestinian woman with severe facial injuries from a Dime bomb
"Israel was facing demands for war crimes investigations as it declared a unilateral ceasefire in Gaza last night after a 22-day assault in which more than 1,200 Palestinians, a third of them children, were killed and 13 Israelis died.
Two children were killed yesterday when Israeli tanks shelled a UN school in which families were sheltering, leading a UN spokesman, Chris Gunness, to say: "There has to be an investigation to determine whether a war crime has been committed.".....
...But among numerous allegations of disproportionate use of force, questions are also multiplying about the use of unconventional weapons by Israel, including a new type of bomb that causes injuries that doctors have not seen before, and which they find impossible to treat.......
.....the UN is not the only international body insisting that inquiries must be held as soon as possible into the tactics and weapons used by Israel. Erik Fosse, a Norwegian doctor who worked in Gaza's hospitals during the conflict, said that Israel was using so-called Dime (dense inert metal explosive) bombs designed to produce an intense explosion in a small space. The bombs are packed with tungsten powder, which has the effect of shrapnel but often dissolves in human tissue, making it difficult to discover the cause of injuries.
Dr Fosse said he had seen a number of patients with extensive injuries to their lower bodies. "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." However, the injuries matched photographs and descriptions in medical literature of the effects of Dime bombs.
"All the patients I saw had been hit by bombs fired from unmanned drones," said Dr Fosse, head of the Norwegian Aid Committee. "The bomb hit the ground near them and exploded." His colleague, Mads Gilbert, accused Israel of using the territory as a testing ground for a new, "extremely nasty" type of explosive. "This is a new generation of small explosive that detonates with extreme power and dissipates its power within a range of five to 10 metres," he said.......
While the loudest controversy has been over accusations that white phosphorus was illegally used, other foreign doctors working in Gaza have reported injuries they cannot explain. Professor Mohammed Sayed Khalifa, a cardiac consultant from Sudan, said that two of his patients had had uncontrollable bleeding. "One had a chest operation, and continued bleeding even after having been given large quantities of plasma," he said. "The other had what seemed to be a minor leg injury, but collapsed with profuse bleeding. Something was interfering with the clotting process. I have never seen such a thing before."
Dr Ahmed Almi, an Egyptian cardio-thoracic consultant at al-Nasser hospital in Khan Younis in southern Gaza, said he had seen a number of patients with inexplicable injuries. A boy of 14 had a small puncture wound in his head, but extensive damage to his brain, making it impossible to save his life. "I don't know the nature or type of these weapons that make a very small [entry wound] and go on and make massive destruction in the tissues," he said........"