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
Forwarded from a few folks working on criminal justice reform. Please call your legislative reps and the Governor. Scroll down for open letter from Jalil A. Muntaqim:
DOCCS (NY State Department of Corrections) Is Trying to Steal Christmas
The NY State Department of Corrections has posted an order that will sharply restrict food packages to prisoners and steeply raise the cost to their families. We need to call state officials and let them know someone is watching. Here are some details (and there is more information in a letter below from in-prison organizer Jalil Muntaqim:
1. The food served in NYS prisons is barely edible. (The state spends less than $3.00/day to feed an inmate. Those who can rely either on the food packages their families send them or purchase food in the commissary and cook for themselves. 2. DOCCS will now prohibit food packages that include fresh food, directly affecting the diets of prisoners who don't have any source other than food packages for fresh food and is requiring that families order food from a vendor chosen by DOCCS. We've been down this road with telephone calls where families are forced to pay exorbitant phone charges to speak to their loved ones because the prison system has chosen to profiteer from families' efforts to stay connected to their loved ones. Without a choice of vendors or shipping, you can bet the costs will be very high. 3. Prisoners are frequently transferred from one prison to another. With this new order they will not be able to take many of their personal items with them.
NYS has one of the highest costs per prisoner in the country. The vast majority of cost relates to the personnel operating prisons. These costs have continued to go up even as the prison population has significantly declined. This DOCCS order is an effort to reduce costs at the expense of the people incarcerated and their families rather than addressing the underlying issue -- we need to close prisons.
Please call (518) 474-8390 or email (www.governor.ny.gov/content/governor-contact-form) Governor Cuomo to protest this order (DOCCS #4911) and call your state representative as well. We need to treat all our citizens, even the incarcerated and their families, as human beings.
---------- Forwarded message ---------- From: [email protected] <[email protected]> Date: Wed, Dec 13, 2017 at 11:25 PM Subject: Open Letter to the Community from Jalil A. Muntaqim
Jalil requests that the following Open Letter be shared widely.
“OPEN LETTER TO THE COMMUNITY”
The New Directive #4911-A is Anti-Family Support
The principle problem with DOCCS new Directive #4911-A is that it is pro-business and anti-family. It will increase revenue for those businesses DOCCS has designated as approved venders, with alleged kick-backs in the contract. Also, it will be more expensive for families to support their incarcerated loved ones. Directive #4911-A restricts the ability of the incarcerated to maintain any semblance of societal normalcy; rather it serves to dehumanize the incarcerated into a collective of uniformity, and denies any sense of individuality.
DOCCS has been incrementally taking away all of the gains won by those who sacrificed their lives during the Attica insurrection. It is time for family, friends and the community to resist and prohibit the implementation of Directive #4911-A.
Here I am listing the most noticeable changes in comparison with the January 1, 2014 issue of Directive #4911.
1. The Directive #4911-A totally eliminates any food or any packages being brought to the facility by family or friends during visiting hours.
2. The weight of packages ordered from DOCCS-approved vendors has been reduced to 30 pounds from 35 pounds per month. However, families/friends may order up to three times per month to accumulate the amount of 30 pounds. A 35-pound package of food has been severely restricted to only 8 pounds of food per package. The resulting effect is a family member or friend would have to spend additional shipping and handling for the equivalent of 24 pounds of food for the month.
3. The purchase of Bread(s), Canned Foods, Fresh or Dried Fruit and Fresh Vegetables is PROHIBITED!
4. No item with a logo will be permitted, including clothing, plastic containers, etc. Prior to the new Directive, clothing could have a logo no larger than 1 inch.
5. Clothing: The maximum cost of clothes has increased from $50 to $80 an item. The colors of clothing have been severely restricted to WHITE, PINK, TAN and GREEN solid colors. Previously, the only restricted colors were Blue, Black, Gray and Orange. The restrictions now include: Yellow, Gold, Brown, Burgundy, Purple, Maroon, Red—essentially every color that is not white, pink, tan or green. All briefs and underwear must be white, with the exception of the waistband. The same for thermals—no more underwear with colors, all must be white. Furthermore, all footwear must now be a solid color; no more multi-colored sneakers or shoes, which restricts the selection of footwear of any kind.
6. Belts of any size are no longer permitted.
7. Sweatshirts and Sweatpants: No more hooded sweatshirts, no more sweats with a stripe down the side, no sweats with a logo or with a zipper, and only in the colors of white, pink, tan or green.
8. No longer able to receive carbon paper, a clip board, scotch or masking tape.
9. Women are no longer permitted to order a hair/blow dryer. All Incarcerated Persons are no longer able to have key chains, extension cords, floor rugs (with the exception of a prayer rug), no linens (sheets, pillow cases, blankets, towels, washcloths).
10. All religious items permitted in Directive #4911 have been removed, with the exception of a prayer rug, religious chain w/pendant.
Because of the limited vendors, there is no indication from where or how incarcerated persons can obtain books, magazines, newspapers and other reading materials. Furthermore, there is no indication that clothing, footwear and other items currently possessed by the incarcerated person will be permitted to be kept or must either be sent home, donated or destroyed or if, upon transfer to another facility, they will be confiscated as contraband.
The issue of DOCCS eliminating many of the hard fought and won possessions of incarcerated persons serves to negate to what extent formerly incarcerated persons fought to achieve the humanization of the prison system. It also further establishes DOCCS intends to develop business relationships which will prove exploitative to the family and friends of the incarcerated person(s).
This issue is not insignificant or minor in NYS DOCCS, rather it points to efforts to further undermine incarcerated families’ ties, and generally create a system in which the majority of interactions will be business transactions. Similar to how DOCCS sought to restrict visiting to weekends only, and having already removed hooded sweatshirts from the population, this is another DOCCS conservative attempt to isolate, alienate and eventually eliminate all family and community relationships between incarcerated persons and the outside community.
This nefarious effort by DOCCS must be vehemently opposed by every segment of the community, and to further demand any future proposed changes MUST be based on advice and consent by the community.
Keep in mind, it is the community that will have to deal with the end product of DOCCS alleged mandate to rehabilitate the incarcerated person. Therefore, it is the community that must be engaged in this process to ensure the rehabilitation process is successful.
I ask that this open letter to the community be widely distributed and given serious consideration in opposition to the implementation of DOCCS Directive #4911-A.
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