Israel turns Gaza into weapon testing lab?

Israel has turned Gaza into a research laboratory to test out its new "extremely nasty" weapons on Palestinians, say on the scene medics.

After working for 10 days at the Shifa Hospital in the war-torn Palestinian territory, Dr. Mads Gilbert, a member of a Norwegian triage medical team in Gaza, blasted Israel for conducting experimental military work in the impoverished strip.

"There's a very strong suspicion I think that Gaza is now being used as a test laboratory for new weapons," Gilbert told reporters at Oslo's Gardermoen airport upon his return home on Monday.

Dr. Gilbert said the kinds of injuries he and his colleague Erik Fosse had seen during their ten-day aid work in Gaza had proven that Dense Inert Metal Explosives (DIME) was being used in the embattled territory.

DIME, which is an experimental kind of explosive, is believed to have strong biological effects in those who are hit by the "low lethality" weapons.

Survivors close to the lethal range may have their limbs amputated as their soft tissues and bones are shredded to pieces. The victims may also subsequently contract cancer from the micro-shrapnel embedded in their body tissue within just four to six months.

"This is a new generation of very powerful small explosives that detonates with an extreme power and dissipates its power within a range of five to 10 meters (16-98 feet)," said Gilbert.

"We have not seen the casualties affected directly by the bomb because they are normally torn to pieces and do not survive, but we have seen a number of very brutal amputations... without shrapnel injuries which we strongly suspect must have been caused by the DIME weapons," he added.

The weapon "causes the tissue to be torn from the flesh. It looks very different (from a shrapnel injury). I have seen and treated a lot of different injuries for the last 30 years in different war zones, and this looks completely different," said Fosse, 58.

"If you are in the immediate (vicinity of) a DIME weapon, it's like your legs get torn off. It's an enormous pressure wave and there is no shrapnel," he explained.

Israel had also used the weapon in the 2006 war with Lebanon and previously in Gaza.

"We are not soft-skinned when it comes to war injuries, but these amputations are really extremely nasty and for many of the patients not survivable," he added.

Following reports on the use of suspected chemical weapons in Gaza, the United Nations Human Rights Council decided to dispatch a fact-finding mission to investigate human rights violations committed in the territory.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said on Tuesday that "Accountability must be ensured for violations of international law," suggesting that the Council consider a mission to assess violations committed by both sides in the conflict.

The latest casualty figures according to Health officials have topped 940 since the operation began on 27 December, while some 4,400 others have been wounded.

Senior United Nations officials have expressed grave concern about reports that over 40 per cent of the Palestinians killed in the Israeli offensive, and almost half of the wounded, are women and children.

The new report comes on top of earlier reports which revealed the Israeli military had used controversial white phosphorus shells on Gazans.

The Times said on Thursday that it had identified stockpiles of M825A1, a US-made White Phosphorus munition, from high-resolution pictures taken from Israeli artillery units on the Gaza border.

A phenomenon characteristic of the chemical -- also known by the military as WP or Willie Pete is that it can burn through flesh to the bone and leave bodies "entirely shriveled with black-green skin."

Earlier last week, Gilbert's team, told Press TV that medics had found depleted uraniumin some Gaza residents.

The reports of profound human sufferings come as Israel continues to reject the fact that it has imposed a humanitarian crisis among the battle-hardened 1.5 million population of Gaza.

Israel feels hurt by global condemnation
Israel's foreign minister expresses Tel Aviv's grave concern over "a wave of anti-Semitism" sparked by the Israeli offensive in Gaza.

In a statement released by her office on Monday, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni expressed "Israel's concern about the current wave of anti-Semitic attacks in various parts of the world."

Israel's 17-day-old offensive in the Gaza Strip has so far claimed the lives of at least 919 Palestinians, while some 4,100 others have been wounded.

UN figures show that the majority of casualties and injuries are civilian.

The operation has sparked widespread outrage around the globe, with many people and leaders condemning the Israeli acts and urging for an immediate halt in bombardment of the densely-populated strip.

"We have received with great concern and revulsion many reports of physical, moral, verbal and other manifestations of anti-Semitic attacks towards Jews and Israeli citizens in many parts of the world," read the foreign ministry statement, according to AFP.

Tel Aviv launched Operation Cast Lead on Dec. 27 to put an end to rocket attacks against southern Israel.

At least 10 Israeli soldiers have been killed by resistance fighters in Gaza, while three Israelis have died in retaliatory rocket attacks by the Hamas movement.

The UN Security Council adopted a resolution on Thursday, calling for an immediate end to the ongoing crisis. Both sides, however, have rejected the resolution.

Hamas, the democratically-elected ruler of the impoverished Gaza Strip, demands a cessation of an 18-month Israeli blockade on the coastal enclave -- home to some 1.5 million Palestinians -- before its fighters suspend retaliatory rocket attacks.

13 Jan 2009

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