International Volunteer Ambulance Worker

January 11, 2009

In News

tales to tell – from Gaza 2008

01.10.2009 |

Sun 11: Watching the phosphorous fall

Posted January 11, 2009 by talestotell

From Ramattan window, 4pm – over Jabalia

I am again at Ramattan watching these wierd phospherous bombs falling on the city.

“There were indications last night that Palestinian civilians have been injured by the bombs, which burn intensely. Hassan Khalass, a doctor at al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City, told The Times that he had been dealing with patients who he suspected had been burnt by white phosphorus. Muhammad Azayzeh, 28, an emergency medical technician in the city, said: “The burns are very unusual. They don’t look like burns we have normally seen. They are third-level burns that we can’t seem to control.”

Victims with embedded WP particles in their flesh have to have the affected areas flushed with water. Particles that cannot be removed with tweezers are covered with a saline-soaked dressing.

Nafez Abu Shaban, the head of the burns unit at al-Shifa hospital, said: “I am not familiar with phosphorus but many of the patients wounded in the past weeks have strange burns. They are very deep and not like burns we used to see.” Read more…

“The Geneva Treaty of 1980 stipulates that white phosphorus should not be used as a weapon of war in civilian areas, but there is no blanket ban under international law on its use as a smokescreen or for illumination. However, Charles Heyman, a military expert and former major in the British Army, said: “If white phosphorus was deliberately fired at a crowd of people someone would end up in The Hague. White phosphorus is also a terror weapon. The descending blobs of phosphorus will burn when in contact with skin.”
Read more…

Footage here:

Mo has just been speaking to his sister, his family were receiving the phosphorous bombs all night last night, in Khuza’a, east of Khan Younis, she said the bombs smell like sewerage. She said just in their area there were 110 injuries from the phosphorous. Today they fled their house and went to relatives. We called the Ministry of Health to ask if they have analysed the substances involved, but they said that unfortunately they simply don’t have the resources to do so and have to wait on outside confirmation.

Osama from the Jabalia medics appeared briefly yesterday at Al Quds, with an ambulance with bullet holes in. It had been shot at by an Israeli sniper apparently on Friday between 1.30 and 2pm, and had to turn back without reaching its call-out. Five shots were fired, Osama said.

“Please take care of yourselves,” I said to him.
“If we die, it’s ok.” he said. “What will be left? I think no-one will help us.”

Apartments targetted by rocket in Shayjaiee area

Last night I stayed near Al Quds but at a friend’s house – they have no water. It was another night of heavy shelling, with shells falling near the hospital, constant rockets, and Apache shooting. By the early hours of the morning there was shooting between the Israeli army and the Palestinian resistance very near, so that local people were coming to take refuge in the hospital. They left in the morning, but a steady stream of people, escaping their houses near the fighting, began to trickle past Al Quds.

The Israeli army refused the Red Cross permission for more evacuations from Zaytoun and other cut-off areas yesterday and today.

I went home to get my things so that if we in the hospital are cut off by the army, I’ll have most of what I need. This could happen tonight, or this whole thing could drag on for days…

Dr Halid has managed to get to his family in Khan Younis, the first time he has seen them since their house fell down around them. He will try to get back as soon as possible since now Al Quds ICU has only one staff nurse running it. The little boy who he was caring for the other night when I posted died several hours later. His place has been filled by another explosion victim.

Referring to the shooting of medic Hassan Al Attal, you can see the footage ISMers
took here.