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US Arms Used for War Crimes in Gaza

Israel’s repeated firing of US-made white phosphorus shells over densely populated areas of Gaza during its recent military campaign was indiscriminate and is evidence of war crimes, Human Rights Watch said in a report released March 25, 2009.The seventy-one-page report, “Rain of Fire: Israel’s Unlawful Use of White Phosphorus in Gaza,” provides witness accounts of the devastating effects that white phosphorus munitions had on civilians and civilian property in Gaza. Human Rights Watch researchers found spent shells, canister liners, and dozens of burnt felt wedges containing white phosphorus on city streets, apartment roofs, residential courtyards, and at a United Nations school in Gaza immediately after hostilities ended in January. Militaries officially use white phosphorus to obscure their operations on the ground by creating thick smoke. It has also been used as an incendiary weapon, though such use constitutes a war crime. “In Gaza, the Israeli military didn’t just use white phosphorus in open areas as a screen for its troops,” said Fred Abrahams, senior emergencies researcher at Human Rights Watch and co-author of the report. “It fired white phosphorus repeatedly over densely populated areas, even when its troops weren’t in the area and safer smoke shells were available. As a result, civilians needlessly suffered and died.” The report documents a pattern or policy of white phosphorus use that Human Rights Watch says must have required the approval of senior military officers. The devastating Israeli firepower, unleashed largely on Palestinian civilians in Gaza during the three-week attack starting December 27, 2008 was fueled by US-supplied weapons paid for with US tax dollars. Washington provided F-16 fighter planes, Apache helicopters, tactical missiles, and a wide array of munitions, including white phosphorus and DIME. The weapons required for the Israeli assault were decided upon in June 2008, and the transfer of 1,000 bunker-buster GPS-guided Small Diameter Guided Bomb Units 39 (GBU-39) were approved by Congress in September. The GBU 39 bombs were delivered to Israel in November (prior to any claims of Hamas cease fire violation) for use in the initial air raids on Gaza. Researchers in Gaza found several weapon fragments after the attacks. One came from a 500lb (227kg) Mark-82 fin guided bomb, which had markings indicating parts were made by the US company Raytheon. They also found fragments of US-made white phosphorus artillery shells, marked M825 A1. CLIP

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