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Apr-02-2009 07:25printcomments

White Phosphorus Bombs, a Legacy of Suffering (VIDEO)

Includes a video produced by Tim King, on the Israeli attack on Gaza.

Deadly white phosphorus rains down the the people of Gaza
Sabah Abu Halima lost her husband and 4 children during the Israeli attacks on Gaza. Photo: Yousef Al-Helou

(GAZA CITY) - During Israel's 3-week long offensive on Gaza launched on December 27th, the Israeli army used internationally banned weapons according to foreign military and medical experts.

American made white phosphorus shells were used in populated areas across the Gaza strip, home to about 1.5 million people.

Nafez Abu Shaban, head of burns department at Shifa Hospital, Gaza's largest medical center, has treated dozens of patients who suffered sever burns, he is keeping a piece of phosphorus covered under sand in jar to prevent it from exposing to oxygen.

"Of course at the beginning of the war, we thought it was normal burns, but then patients came back to the hospital suffering from severe pain, and even some patients died, patients who suffer from 15% surface burns area should not die, so we started to ask why? Some of the doctors who came to Gaza to help us seemed to have experience said these burns as a result of the use of white phosphorus bombs," Doctor Nafez said.

More than 3 months have passed since Israel ended its war, but it has left legacies of suffering and sad memories.

Life has returned to normality for many people; Sabah Abu Halima who was brunt from head to toe and lost her husband and 4 children is still in pain. She has weekly physiotherapy sessions at Shifa hospital. We visited her at her house in the northern Gaza strip town of Seyafa about 1 km from the strip's northern border with Israel.

She showed us around her house which was burnt as a result of the white phosphorus shells that fell on her family's 16 members through the roof.

"We had a happy home, I lived in this house in security with my husband and children. I was the happiest person in the world, but all of that changed when on January 4th the Israeli army entered our village and fired 2 phosphorus shells (that) penetrated our roof and brunt us while we were having our lunch, the fire was like lava, my family were burnt and their bodies turned to crisps." Sabah said.

The mournful mother who is still unable to walk or talk properly since her house was completely engulfed in flames, believes she is lucky to have found a photo of her youngest daughter, Shahed, who was only 15 months old. I asked her to comment on this writing which was left on the wall of her bedroom that reads "from the Israeli defense force, we are sorry!"

Nafez Abu Shaban, head of the Burns Department at Shifa hospital, Gaza's
largest medical center, says the Israeli attacks will lead to health-related
problems in the future. Photo: Yousef Al-Helou

"I demand the whole world and international human rights organizations to sue the killers of my family, they killed so many innocent people who tried to rescue us, what was the guilt of my children and my baby Shahad? Their 'sorry' will not bring back my family. I'm still physiologically and mentally in pain. I can't even pick up a cup of tea now; my life will never be the same", Sabah answered with tears in her eyes.

Recently some Israeli soldiers admitted they killed civilians under the so-called rules of engagement. Acts of vandalism, violating medical ethics, using civilians as human shields and indiscriminate killing was obvious through the use of lethal force.

The use of internationally banned weapons by Israeli forces will leave many with long-term illnesses and it's believed that the area will remain contaminated, putting locals at risk of contracting sickness.

"We need to know to know, was uranium used? Were others banned weapons used? We need to know the long complication, will these weapons cause cancer? It’s the duty of the international community to investigate this matter. Now we hear many people are still afraid to eat vegetables planted in areas phosphorus was used because it might be contaminated with radiation" Dr. Nafiz added.

The war has changed the lives of many people like Sabah and left a story in every house in besieged Gaza, more than killed 1400 Palestinians were killed, most of whom were civilians including 313 children, and about 5500 were injured.

Sabah's tragedy is one of many documented by many international lawyers and fact finding missions, but weather those behind these crimes will be brought to justice remains to be seen!

This is the site for Michael Heart's: SONG FOR GAZA "We will not go down" which is used in the video.

Here is site for Yusuf Islam: Two songs from Yusuf, formerly known as Cat Stevens, are included in this video.

Video: The Real Images of Gaza by Tim King

Please be forewarned that this video contains extremely graphic images of the Israeli attack on Gaza, including children who were killed.


Yousef Al-Helou is a freelance journalist based in Gaza, you can reach him at this email address: We at greatly appreciate Yousef's contribution for our readers. The siege of Gaza is one of the most upsetting and seemingly avoidable military events since the dawn of the new Millennium. Having someone in the field there able to send fresh reports to us offers our viewers the freshest perspective from the scene that they are likely to find in western media.

Comments Leave a comment on this story.

All comments and messages are approved by people and self promotional links or unacceptable comments are denied.

Rod Driver, RI state representative July 8, 2010 3:42 pm (Pacific time)

Practically no other mainstream American media outlet dares to tell the truth about Israel's treatment of the Palestinians. Americans should learn how the billions of dollars and sophisticated weapons systems we give Israel are being used. Our politicians either don't know or they pretend they don't know. Thank you Salem-News,com for the courage to publish this report.

Editor: Thanks Rod, we appreciate that, and thanks for your service to your state.

Vic April 6, 2009 8:15 am (Pacific time)

So if we bombed Tel Aviv, the dead Israei children would not be our fault, but the fault of the Israelis for living in the same towns and houses as they do? We would be guiltless because they would be using their children as "shields"? Hiding among their families and children? Do you Zionist apologists even faintly realize how stupid that sounds? Racist hatemongers never cease to amaze me with their moral contortions. I suppose those FBI cowards at the Edward Murrow bldg were doing the same thing..even bringing their children to work to shield themselves. THEY must be the ones to blame for their children's deaths.

Daniel April 5, 2009 4:49 pm (Pacific time)

Anonymous When you give aid and comfort to the enemy you become a legitimate target , is the mindset of the militant hamas member . If Hamas was capable of killing off Israeli leadership as Israel kills off theirs, they would not be shooting rockets mostly into mud . I think if this was the case Israeli leadership would be very hesitant in their actions of killing civilians . I support Israelis right to exists as a country in peace with its neighbors , time is running out . Israelis overreacting policy set a very negative example in the arab world . Time and technology are not in Israeli favor . Their current government , with the militant Russian leberman is worse than the last incarnation . Let us pray Clinton can act as a peacemaker in a very volatile part of the world .

Anonymous April 3, 2009 1:04 pm (Pacific time)

When you give aid and comfort to the enemy you become a legitimate target. If you don't want you or your children to die, stop hiding hamas. Force them into the open. Then Isreal can go after them alone. Continue hiding them and your children continue dieing. Sad thing that children die because of the stupid choices of the adults.

Put it on utube!!! April 3, 2009 11:02 am (Pacific time)

or on Google Video. This way folks can grab a copy for safekeeping.

Anonymous April 3, 2009 12:18 am (Pacific time)

And where is the video killing the people of Israel? Suicide bombers, Kassam rockets despite the cease fire? Oh these terrible people of Israel. And we poor poor people of
Gaza, we are so innocent. And no word about the killers named Hamas. At least see both sides of the story and be fair.

Editor: Are you joking?  The jig is up, the news is out... Here's the score: a total of 13 Israeli's killed during the Gaza conflict, four from friendly fire, and over 1,400 Gazans killed by Israel's murderous bombs.  The news for you is that western media agencies are finally locating the courage to tell the truth about Israel and the country's murderous approach.  Why did Israel initially break the truce with Hamas anyway, do you know?  

Sad but Hopeful April 2, 2009 4:12 pm (Pacific time)

Terribly sad but there is hope, thanks you Yousef for sharing your first-hand perspective.

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.