Bearing Witness

Stop Unlawful Use of White Phosphorus in Gaza

Israel should stop using white phosphorus in military operations in densely populated areas of Gaza, Human Rights Watch said today. On January 9 and 10, 2009, Human Rights Watch researchers in Israel observed multiple air-bursts of artillery-fired white phosphorus over what appeared to be the Gaza City/Jabaliya area.

Israel appeared to be using white phosphorus as an “obscurant” (a chemical used to hide military operations), a permissible use in principle under international humanitarian law (the laws of war). However, white phosphorus has a significant, incidental, incendiary effect that can severely burn people and set structures, fields, and other civilian objects in the vicinity on fire. The potential for harm to civilians is magnified by Gaza’s high population density, among the highest in the world.

“White phosphorous can burn down houses and cause horrific burns when it touches the skin,” said Marc Garlasco, senior military analyst at Human Rights Watch. “Israel should not use it in Gaza’s densely populated areas.”

Human Rights Watch believes that the use of white phosphorus in densely populated areas of Gaza violates the requirement under international humanitarian law to take all feasible precautions to avoid civilian injury and loss of life. This concern is amplified given the technique evidenced in media photographs of air-bursting white phosphorus projectiles. Air bursting of white phosphorus artillery spreads 116 burning wafers over an area between 125 and 250 meters in diameter, depending on the altitude of the burst, thereby exposing more civilians and civilian infrastructure to potential harm than a localized ground burst.

* this article was taken from Human Rights Watch @ www.hrw.org

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January 11, 2009 Posted by | Media | , | Leave a comment

Jordan

I am now in Amman, after traveling through Wadi Rum and Petra. Wadi Rum was spectacular, I spent the night in a Bedouin camp after doing a four wheel drive tour of the main sites including Lawrence house, the superb red sand dunes on the slopes of Jebel Umm Ulaydiyya and several rock bridges. Petra was truly aware inspiring. You enter through the  Siq, which is not a canyon but rather one block that has been ripped apart by tectonic force. Just as you start to think there’s no end to the Siq, you catch a breath taking view of the Al-Khazneh [the Treasury] which like all of Petra is carved out of the sandstone. From there I walk down the Streets of Facades, past the theatre and the Royal Tombs. Then I headed, to what I found the most impressive feature of Petra, Al-Deir[the Monastery] which is accessed by hiking up long rock-cut staircase – well worth the effort. I also hiked up to the High Place of Sacrifice which provides stunning view of the site and surrounding desert. Amazing ! however I was brought back to earth each night by the horrific footage streaming out of the Gaza Strip, devastating ! In Amman I took things a little slower I had several good meals with nice wine and checkout both art galleries, as well as seeing the Citadel and Roman Theater. The art galleries where the highlight, the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts had a great modern exibition called “Together” and the Darat-al-Funun had a moving installation about Al-Nakba. I would like to leave leave you with one of the quotes from the installation that demonstrates the connection Palestinians have with there homeland “I never went back to my village, ever. I am afraid that I might lose my sight especially now that it is becoming weaker and I can barley see what is in front of me. I wish I could go back even if I could not see it with my own eyes. I could still feel it and would see it with my heart and mind”.

My first view of the Treasury from the siq

My first view of the Treasury from the siq

The Monestry

The Monestry

Wadi Rum

Wadi Rum

January 11, 2009 Posted by | My Travels | , , , | Leave a comment

Sinai

Well I have left Nablus and have just finished two weeks traveling through the Sinai. I spent the first few days laying on the beach at Ras-A-Satan recovering from my mild “occupation” caused depression. However this was rudely interrupted by the Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip – to quote a friend “how do they get away with this shit” ! After Ras-A-Satan I headed for Dahab, where I did several day trips into the desert, including  climbing Mt Sinai  and doing a tour of Colored and White Canyons. I also snorkeled at the Blue Hole and went quad biking. The highlight was watching the sunset from the top of Mt Sinai [see below], but a close second was the hot showers that I took twice a day – much nicer than the cup and bucket routine in Nablus. It’s the little things in Life :]

Ras-A-Satan

Ras-A-Satan

Colored Canyon

Colored Canyon

Sunset on top of Mt Sinai

Sunset on top of Mt Sinai

January 11, 2009 Posted by | My Travels | , , , , | 1 Comment