Tuesday, January 6, 2009

New weapons and a shortage of body bags

Reuters: People in Gaza were in dire need of food and medical supplies, aid agencies said on Monday, but Israel's ground assault and air raids were hampering relief efforts. Freezing cold is compounding the misery of children... And body bags for victims are in short supply.

Unconventional weapons used against Gazans
Dr. Mads Gilbert: The findings about the uranium I cannot tell you much about, but 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. These weapons have an enormous power to explode... The power of the explosion dissipates very quickly and the strength does not travel long, maybe 10 meters, but those humans who are hit by this explosions, this pressure wave are cut in pieces. This was first used in Lebanon in 1006... On the long term, these weapons will have a cancer effect on those who survive. 'I saw a lot of women and children wheeled in, said Fares Ghanem, another hospital official. 'A lot of the wounded were missing limbs and a lot of the dead were in pieces.'

Reuters: Senior UN official said 350 people had been sheltering in the building. According to the Palestinian Health Ministry in the Gaza Strip, at least 631 Palestinians have been killed and more than 2,700 wounded since Israel began its offensive.

Neve Gordon, in The Nation: My mother, like most Israelis, is a devout news consumer, and last night I decided to keep her company in front of the TV... What did manage to unnerve me in the broadcast was one short sentence made by a reporter who covered the entry of a humanitarian aid convoy into the Gaza Strip on Friday... Explaining to those viewers who might be wondering why Israel allows humanitarian assistance to the other side during times of war, he declared that if a full-blown humanitarian catastrophe were to explode among the Palestinian civilian population, the international community would pressure Israel to stop the assault... Not unlike raising animals for slaughter on a farm, the Israeli government maintains that it is providing Palestinians with assistance so it can have a free hand in attacking them.

Robert Fisk, The Independent: Using the old 'enclosed military area' excuse to prevent coverage of its occupation of Palestinian land has been going on for years... The Israelis are so ruthless that the reasons for the ban on journalism may be easily explained: that so many Israeli soldiers are going to kill so many innocents that images of the slaughter would be too much to tolerate... 

But the result is that Palestinian voices -- as opposed to those of Western reporters -- are now dominating the airwaves. The men and women who are under air and artillery attack by the Israelis are now telling their own story on television and radio and in the papers as they have never been able to tell it before, without the artificial 'balance' which so much television reporting imposes on live reporting...

There is also a darker side. Israel's version of events has been given so much credence by the dying Bush administration that the ban on journalists entering Gaza may simply be of little importance to the Israeli army. By the time we investigate, whatever they are trying to hide will have been overtaken by another crisis.