Tuesday, January 6, 2009

IBCUW Statement on Gaza

Statement on Israel’s attack on Gaza

ICBUW is deeply concerned over the ongoing humanitarian crisis triggered by Israel’s attack on Gaza and calls for an immediate ceasefire to protect civilians caught up by the conflict. ICBUW condemns the overwhelming use of force in a crowded civilian environment.


Of additional concern are reports that indiscriminate and new weapons are being used by Israeli forces, including White Phosphorous and Dense Inert Metal Explosives (DIME). Contrary to reports by some media agencies, ICBUW is yet to see clear evidence that uranium munitions are being used in Gaza. The use of uranium weapons in a built-up civilian area would constitute a grave breach of International Humanitarian Law.

A report originating from Iranian Press TV claiming that uranium weapons have been used has, we believe, confused uranium munitions with tungsten DIME weapons. Interviews by Al-Jazeera with a Norwegian medical volunteer Dr Mads Gilbert, who was also quoted by Press TV, showed him blaming the use of DIME munitions containing tungsten for horrific civilian injuries; he then added that tungsten was radioactive. This is not the case.

In a later article Dr Gilbert stated that he didn’t know anything about the use of uranium weapons but went into additional detail about the use of DIME munitions (http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=80685§ionid=3510302).

Thus far two weapons, DIME explosives and GBU-39 bunker busters, have come under scrutiny by campaigners and to the best of our knowledge neither weapons use uranium. (See below)

ICBUW will continue to monitor the situation closely and is seeking links with NGOs working on the ground in Gaza for further information.

GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb

Israel recently purchased 1000 GBU-39 bombs from the US. The bomb was developed as a means of producing the penetrative impact of a much larger bomb in a relatively small weapon. Some campaigners have suspected that the bomb uses uranium in its casing or warhead but as yet we have no compelling evidence to support these claims. There are claims that this weapon is being used to attack buried targets in Gaza. Furthermore Boeing has developed a version of the GBU-39 that utilises a DIME warhead however it is though that Israel only has the conventional version.
US Defence Security Cooperation Agency Notification:

DIME (Dense Inert Metal Explosives)

DIME weapons were developed to reduce the collateral damage produced by conventional explosive charges. Their use by Israel was first reported in Lebanon in 2006. In order to reduce the impact radius of shrapnel, DIME weapons have a carbon polymer case instead of steel, this disintegrates into fibres during the blast.

However the weapons also use finely powdered tungsten mixed with explosive to create a very focused blast. While this reduces the overall blast radius, victims caught within its sphere of impact suffer terrible wounds and physical contamination with fine tungsten particles.

Embedded tungsten particles have been shown to trigger the growth of aggressive cancers in rats. While this weapon was apparently produced to reduce civilian casualties, it is ironic that the few who survive its impact will face an uncertain future of tumours triggered by tungsten’s toxicity.
For more info see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dense_Inert_Metal_Explosive


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