Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Everyone who's been paying the slightest attention to events in Gaza is aware Israel's Defense Forces committed war crimes in targeting Palestinian civilians with M825A1 white phosphorus artillery shells. The videos, photos and eyewitness accounts are everywhere. Unfortunately, most of the information that is available – both at blogs and news sites – is nothing more than ill-informed speculation, at best. Read on if you want to find out more about what's really going on. But, if your looking for either support for, or condemnation of, the IDF's use of white phosphorus you will be disappointed.

Some background for those who haven't paid attention. The U.S.-manufactured (of course) M825A1 projectile used by the IDF is not high explosive; it ejects 116 white phosphorus impregnated felt wedges, each wedge producing heavy screening smoke for up to 15 minutes. M825A1 projectiles are designed specifically so that they DO NOT release the engulfing shower of flaming phosphorus chunks and particles produced by incendiary weapons.

The M825A1 is not an anti-personnel weapon as such but can be combined with high explosive artillery in so called "shake and bake" operations. In one such scenario M825A1 projectiles are fired into an area where enemy forces are entrenched; the smoke and heat intended to force the enemy into the open where they are vulnerable to high explosive shells. It is also possible to use high explosive shells to shred and disperse the flaming wedges from previously fired M825A1 projectiles. This spreads little chunks of flaming phosphorus over a wide area and down into hiding places.

So far the IDF is accused of baking without the shaking: that is, of using the M825A1 as an anti-personnel weapon uncombined with high explosive artillery. For example, this excellent night video shows a number of M825A1 projectiles creating smoke without any follow-up high explosive artillery. It is argued nonetheless that such use is designed to kill and injure civilians. Canny Jews are highly unlikely to attempt to kill so inefficiently.

The two photos immediately below – obviously shot moments apart – show flaming phosphorus wedges showering a United Nations school.

Worth noting:
  • The phosphorus is in large flaming chunks (wedges);
  • The chunks remain largely intact after striking solid objects (roofs, vehicles, ground, etc);
  • The chunks have little penetrative power (bouncing off both the lightweight carport roof in the left background and the van in the right background, for example).
It seem likely that it would take a direct hit from one of these chunks to cause serious injury.

Now take a look at a screen grab from a subsequent BBC video of the same school yard (looking back from the far end of the yard):

No damage is visible: the carport roof is intact; the trees still stand; and the ground is unscorched and uncratered – the BBC video shows kids playing with what could be a white phosphorus remnant but shows no phosphorus damage at the school.

Lobbing a white phosphorus smoke shell into a nearly deserted school yard is not the way to maximise casualties. The whole white phosphorus war crimes scenario is a beat-up designed to appeal to the emotions, confirming Jews as killers of women and children.

Update: The controversy has broadened with the IDF apparently admitting to the use of white phosphorus mortar rounds. The circumstances are unclear but it's possible white phosphorus rounds were combined with high explosive rounds in a mini shake and bake scenario:
High-explosive [mortar] rounds are used to suppress or kill enemy dismounted infantry, mortars, and other supporting weapons, and to interdict the movement of men, vehicles and supplies in the enemy's forward area. Bursting WP rounds are often mixed with high-explosive rounds to enhance their suppressive and destructive effects.
The IDF needs to be open and honest about this.

The Guardian continues to speculate wildly:
As the Guardian reported yesterday, Palestinian doctors have reported treating dozens of cases of suspected phosphorus burns.
A video is attached:
Phosphorus bombs in Gaza – the evidence

On Tuesday 13 January Israeli forces attacked Khoza'a, a small rural community east of Khan Yunis in the south of the Gaza Strip. Missiles containing white phosphorus were deployed. Dr Ahmed Almi from the al-Nasser hospital in Khan Yunis describes serious injuries and chemical burns, with victims covered in a white powder that continues to burn long after initial exposure. Warning: contains graphic footage of war injuries
No evidence is offered with only seconds of the 5:46 video relating to possible phosphorus burns. Narrator Dr Ahmed Almi describes a laws-of-physics-defying white powder:
First it burns the exposed parts. Then after that the clothes are coated in the white phosphorus. Then after an hour it penetrates the clothes until it reaches the body and usually the whole body is burned. So this type of burn is the first time for us to see this type of chemical burn.
That's the Guardian's evidence. Most of the rest of the video describes mysterious shrapnel wounds – lacking phosphorus evidence Dr Almi veers off on the experimental Jew weapon tangent.

Update II: Go here for the latest.


Anonymous kae said...

Thank God they haven't latched onto tracer bullets.

8:34 AM  
Anonymous Toaf said...

JF, it doesn't look like night time in those photos. The sky is blue and there are white clouds. Do you know why WP was being used to illuminate the scene during daylight hours?

7:52 PM  
Anonymous Chuck A. Spear said...

Fair go, Damian. Beck seems to be an expert on weapons. He has obviously fired his own numerous times in a shake and bake scenario.

7:59 PM  
Anonymous Chuck A. Spear said...

And that last comment just shows how much you don't know about WP and smoke rounds, Beck.

8:07 PM  
Anonymous Chuck A. Spear said...

Thanks for sharing yours.

8:23 PM  
Anonymous Toaf said...

Minicapt, you're right. Anyone who suggests that a weapon that burns people to death is an incendiary and should not be used in civilian areas clearly has a problem with their mental faculties. Your position couldn't be stated more plainly. Thanks.

10:26 PM  

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