Saturday, January 24, 2009


Go here for part one.

A slide-show of the shelling of the Beit Lahiya school – with commentary by the United Nation's John Ging – is available at the Guardian site. Ging says two shells exploded in the air, showering the school with white phosphorus (as discussed in my earlier post); two shells of the four shell volley exploding close to the school. A single high explosive shell struck the school three minutes later – this explosion causing fatalities (two children). Thus, if the IDF wanted to maximize casualties at the school its gunners would have dispensed with the white phosphorus rounds, shelling the school exclusively with much more lethal high explosives.

A Jonathan Miller video (UK, Channel 4) showing damage at the school is now available as well. The scenario's much the same except that the fatalities were caused not by a high explosive round but rather by an intact white phosphorus round hitting the school and then exploding – Miller holds up shell remnants as proof. This seems, well, odd considering that the M825A1 white phosphorus round is not an explosive round. The M825A1 is not designed to kill and isn't an effective weapon.

A second Miller video is broader in scope, covering not only white phosphorus but flechettes and dense inert metal explosive (DIME) bombs. Dr Nafez Abu Shaban, director of the burns unit at Shifa hospital, says that putting water on active phosphorus in a wound actually makes the flame worse. This is a common misconception but an unusual mistake for a burns specialist. Here's what the Emergency Response Guidebook says about phosphorus burns:
In case of contact with substance, keep exposed skin areas immersed in water or covered with wet bandages until medical attention is received.
Maybe it's some sort of special Jew phosphorus. Miller then moves on to DIME bombs and the tiny fragments they produce, introducing Human Rights Watch's Marc Garlasco as a former "top munitions expert at the Pentagon". If Human Rights Watch's bio is to believed, Miller overstated Garlasco's qualifications just a tad:
Before joining Human Rights Watch, he covered Iraq as a senior intelligence analyst at the Pentagon. Garlasco has a B.A. in government from St. John's University and an M.A. in International Relations from the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University.
A brief speculative frenzy ensues before Miller moves on to flechettes – the US used them in Vietnam so they must be really bad. Anyway, watch the video and decide for yourself how much of it is factual.

My conclusion: the IDF was probably right to exclude journalists while operations were underway; the more reporters there are on the scene, the greater the volume of misinformation produced.


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