Israel is believed to be using controversial white phosphorus shells to screen its assault on the heavily populated Gaza Strip yesterday. The weapon, used by British and US forces in Iraq, can cause horrific burns but is not illegal if used as a smokescreen.
As the Israeli army stormed to the edges of Gaza City and the Palestinian death toll topped 500, the tell-tale shells could be seen spreading tentacles of thick white smoke to cover the troops’ advance. “These explosions are fantastic looking, and produce a great deal of smoke that blinds the enemy so that our forces can move in,” said one Israeli security expert. Burning blobs of phosphorus would cause severe injuries to anyone caught beneath them and force would-be snipers or operators of remote-controlled booby traps to take cover. Israel admitted using white phosphorus during its 2006 war with Lebanon.
The use of the weapon in the Gaza Strip, one of the world’s mostly densely population areas, is likely to ignite yet more controversy over Israel’s offensive, in which more than 2,300 Palestinians have been wounded.
The Geneva Treaty of 1980 stipulates that white phosphorus should not be used as a weapon of war in civilian areas, but there is no blanket ban under international law on its use as a smokescreen or for illumination. However, Charles Heyman, a military expert and former major in the British Army, said: “If white phosphorus was deliberately fired at a crowd of people someone would end up in The Hague. White phosphorus is also a terror weapon. The descending blobs of phosphorus will burn when in contact with skin.”
The Israeli military last night denied using phosphorus, but refused to say what had been deployed. “Israel uses munitions that are allowed for under international law,” said Captain Ishai David, spokesman for the Israel Defence Forces. “We are pressing ahead with the second stage of operations, entering troops in the Gaza Strip to seize areas from which rockets are being launched into Israel.”
The civilian toll in the first 24 hours of the ground offensive — launched after a week of bombardment from air, land and sea— was at least 64 dead. Among those killed were five members of a family who died when an Israeli tank shell hit their car and a paramedic who died when a tank blasted his ambulance. Doctors at Gaza City’s main hospital said many women and children were among the dead and wounded.
The Israeli army also suffered its first fatality of the offensive when one of its soldiers was killed by mortar fire. More than 30 soldiers were wounded by mortars, mines and sniper fire.
Israel has brushed aside calls for a ceasefire to allow humanitarian aid into the besieged territory, where medical supplies are running short.
With increasingly angry anti-Israeli protests spreading around the world, Gordon Brown described the violence in Gaza as “a dangerous moment”.
White phosphorus: the smoke-screen chemical that can burn to the bone
— White phosphorus bursts into a deep-yellow flame when it is exposed to oxygen, producing a thick white smoke
— It is used as a smokescreen or for incendiary devices, but can also be deployed as an anti-personnel flame compound capable of causing potentially fatal burns
— Phosphorus burns are almost always second or third-degree because the particles do not stop burning on contact with skin until they have entirely disappeared — it is not unknown for them to reach the bone
— Geneva conventions ban the use of phosphorus as an offensive weapon against civilians, but its use as a smokescreen is not prohibited by international law
— Israel previously used white phosphorus during its war with Lebanon in 2006
— It has been used frequently by British and US forces in recent wars, notably during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Its use was criticised widely
— White phosphorus has the slang name “Willy Pete”, which dates from the First World War. It was commonly used in the Vietnam era
In a state where racially biased policing is the norm, Westchester County stands out as one of the worst offenders. Between 2013 and 2017, Black and Latino people were vastly overrepresented among tho...
Nick has suggested that we organize a day long vigil in solidarity with the HVCC Caravan to DC and as a means to collectively express our outrage regarding the human rights violations that are taking place at the border (United Nations Convenant on the Rights of the Child) and here in Westchester County (children losing parents in ICE raids). We have consulted with Luis and are moving forward. It is short notice but we are asking people to commit to one hour slots tomorrow Wednesday in front the of the Federal Courthouse on 300 Quarropas Street in White Plains where HVCC organized a rally a couple of weeks ago. We will be checking in with the Caravan in DC during the day and will be sending them our love and solidarity as they meet with representatives for family reunification both here and at the border. I will bring placards but please feel free to bring your own. For those with health conditions, it should be cooler and cloudy tomorrow.
Nick and I will be sending off the Caravan of Hope tomorrow at 5am at the Sleepy Hollow Senior Center (55 Elm Street) and Vitalah and Helen will be part of the welcome home crew at 9pm in the same place. I believe there is also a rally in Tarrytown at 7:30pm tomorrow for those unable to make day time slots (details to follow).
The news from the border is very distressing regarding children being forcibly separated from their parents.
Here in Westchester County, children continue to be separated from their parents in ICE raids.
Luis Yumbla with the Hudson Valley Community Coalition is organizing a Caravan of Hope, Solidarity and Freedom to reunify families both at the border and here in Westchester County. They will travel to Washington, DC, this Wednesday, June 20th. He is bringing seven local families who have family members detained by ICE to meet with our Senator Gillibrand in her DC office and to also meet with other representatives.
He is asking for us to gather at 5am on Wednesday at the Sleepy Hollow Senior Center located at 55 Elm Street in Sleepy Hollow with signs: KEEP FAMILIES TOGETHER to help with the morale of the families boarding the bus to DC. I will bring the signs from the WESPAC office and will help with media outreach. Please join me, either for the send off or to get on the bus if you can. There are seats available on the bus if people would like to travel down with the family members.
Funds are also still needed to pay for the bus.
Luis also says that calls to our Congressional representatives should continue (Nita Lowey, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand) to stop this massive violation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
I hope to see many of you on Wednesday early morning. It really helps the families not to feel so alone. There should also be a welcoming crew when they return around 9pm that same day. Let us know if you would like to bottom line the evening welcoming crew. Luis can be reached at [email protected] . ... See MoreSee Less
Art Journaling at WESPAC to Combat "Outrage Fatigue" with Susan Sheppard:Art Journaling at WESPAC to Combat "Outrage Fatigue": Based on Gayle Dunkelberger's successful sketching and water colors at WESPAC, the board would like to continue this type of programming at our social justice center to compliment community forums and planning meetings. Susan Sheppard spent her career with the Greenburgh Central School District as a teacher and has also taught art to teachers at Mercy College. This class will take place once a week for a 90 minute session starting in July. If you are interested, please RSVP to [email protected] by Monday, June 18th and I will then send out a doodle poll to all interested participants so that we can schedule the day and time of the week for this art series based on people's availability. $20 per class. All contributions to support WESPAC and no one will be turned away for lack of funds:
From Susan: An art journal is a “visual diary.” In addition to (or maybe in place of ) words, the journal keeper uses visual images to portray his/her thoughts and feelings. During these very stressful times an art journal can serve as a little haven in a world of madness.
My vision of this class is having the participants create an art journal over a series of workshops with or without the guidance of prompts combined with a variety of art techniques. For example, for the first class I would like to prepare the first few pages for future work and creating a self-portrait using collage. The prompt would be “The Me Nobody Knows.” The class would occur over several weeks depending on interest. Each participant would have to provide a “journal” (water color pad, composition book, or a hard cover book) , magazines and images that appeal to them, and writing tools of their choice. I would provide other tools and materials.
Some techniques are collage, printing, stenciling, drawing, painting, Zentangle, etc. The prompts can be whole class , personal to the participants, or pulled from a jar.
Dear Nada, Here are a few photos. It is hard to see the “moving parts” from photos. The first one is a cover, the others are pages. There are pockets, niches, and pull outs to hold secret thoughts. ... See MoreSee Less
BUS TO ALBANY 6/4: If you are interested in joining us on the Bus to Albany on MONDAY JUNE 4th please let RSVP to [email protected] ASAP. The bus will be departing from The Scarsdale Congregational Church UCC - 1 Heathcote Road, Scarsdale NY 10583 - at around 8AM. There is parking available and all are invited. Once we have 15 RSVP's we will secure the bus, otherwise we will be coordinating by carpool.
(If you think you would like to engage in civil disobedience in Albany, or would like to learn more about the PPC's rationale for and practice of civil disobedience, please let us know so that we can connect you with the necessary training beforehand.)
Thanks for all you do, and we look forward to being in touch -