February 7, 2015
In Blog Letters To Finkelstein News
There was an informative article published recently in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health by Manduca, Naim, and Signoriello. It reported a study on the association between metals delivered by IDF weaponry during Cast Lead and birth defects in Gazan newborns born 20-25 months after the attack. The investigators compared the metal content of the hair of 48 newborns with birth defects to the hair of 12 newborns without birth defects, and found significantly higher levels of selenium, mercury, and tin in most of the babies with birth defects compared to the normal controls. That’s not surprising, but what was unexpected is that newborns with birth defects whose parents were directly exposed to attacks during Cast Lead (meaning they were in a building that was attacked, next to a building that was attacked, or they searched through rubble immediately after an attack) did not have significantly different levels of mercury, selenium or tin than newborns with birth defects whose parents were not directly exposed. Furthermore, newborns with birth defects whose parents were not directly exposed to attacks had significantly higher levels of mercury, selenium, and tin than normal newborns.
What all of that means is that toxic and teratogenic metals delivered by IDF weaponry contaminated large parts of Gaza: even mothers who weren’t directly exposed to Israeli bombings during Cast Lead gave birth to newborns with birth defects and with the same elevated levels of selenium, mercury, and tin as mothers who were directly exposed. There is the very real possibility that Cast Lead (and no doubt the following attacks) contaminated large parts of Gaza with teratogenic and toxic metals, and that Gazan children will be born with birth defects at higher rates well into the future.
Prior research has shown that mercury and tin (along with other teratogens and toxic metals like lead, uranium, aluminum, titanium, copper, barium, cobalt, cesium, and vanadium) were delivered by IDF attacks. Selenium has not been tested for before in bomb craters. As you know, Human Rights Watch (“Rain of Fire”) reported that all white phosphorous shells found in Gaza were supplied by the United States. As far as I know there is little information available on DIME weapons, but Amnesty International (“Fuelling Conflict”) reported that 1000 GBU-39s (suspected DIME weapons) were ordered by Israel from Boeing in September 2008.