U.S. White Phosphorus Weapons Approved for Use Against Gaza by War Criminal

 By Larry Jones 

Lt. Col. David Benjamin was born in South Africa but for the past 17 years he has been in Israel serving as a military advisor to their military. As such he was in violation of South Africa's Foreign Military Assistance Act. Perhaps even worse, he was one of the main people who planned Israel attack on Gaza and approved the use of the deadly white phosphorus.
 
On January 22, in a Bloomberg news interview, Benjamin stated that "The Gaza campaign was a long time in the works, and we were intimately involved in the planning. Approval of targets which can be attacked, methods of warfare ... it has all gone through us."

A Death Ratio of 1400 to 12

 
According to ISM/Yahya`s Political blog of July 31 - August 8   “The Gaza onslaught resulted in the deaths of 1400 Palestinians, the majority of whom were civilians. Of these approximately 40 % were women and children. More than 5400 Palestinians were seriously injured, many with the most horrific wounds, burns and amputations and countless others are psychologically, physically and mentally traumatized. This is in comparison to 10 Israeli soldiers killed (four by own fire and 2 Israeli citizens.” 
 
Other sources have reported that 50,000 people in Gaza have been left homeless. Israel’s continued blockade of the Gaza coast and the destruction of a number of the tunnels between Gaza and Egypt have made rebuilding next to impossible.
 
President-elect Barack Obama said in early January: "I’m very concerned with the conflict taking place there … The loss of civilian life in Gaza and in Israel is a source of deep concern to me, and after January 20th I’ll have plenty to say about the issue." He further stated that "starting at the beginning of our administration, we’re going to engage effectively and consistently in trying to resolve the conflict in the Middle East."
 
Has that effective engagement simply been put on the back burner, or have the media simply kept quiet about it in favor of heath care news, or is it both? With some, but not much, mainstream media reportage Secretary of Stated Hillary Clinton has criticized both the Hamas government in Gaza as extremist and the Israeli government of hardliner Benjamin Netanyahu for not granting aid to the Gaza citizenry, destroying Arab homes in East Jerusalem, and continuing to build settlements on Arab land.
 
Hamas is certainly no progressive government with policies that truly benefit the people of Gaza. But Israel has been intransigent in its long range plans ever since the U.N. partition of 1948 to claim all of the former Palestine as given to them by God. Israel has been the consistent ally of the U.S., which has granted it billions of dollars in aid each year, much of it in military supplies.
 
Benjamin Approved Use of Illegal Weapons
 
This brings us back to Lt. Col. Benjamin. Many of the weapons used by Israel, and approved by Benjamin, were made in the U.S., including the white phosphorus bombs. According to Amnesty International their researchers in Gaza found weapon fragments, including one from a 500lb (227kg) Mark-82 fin-guided bomb made by Raytheon, whose global headquarters are in Massachusetts. They also found fragments of US-made white phosphorus artillery shells made by the Pine Bluff Arsenal of Arkansas.
 
In mid-January Israel fired white phosphorus shells into the HQ of the UN Relief and Works Agency in Gaza city, destroying medicine, food and aid. Wedges of the deadly substance were found which, if they come in contact with human skin,can burn clear to the bone. "In Gaza, the Israeli military didn't just use white phosphorus in open areas as a screen for its troops," said Fred Abrahams, a senior Human Rights Watch researcher. "It fired white phosphorus repeatedly over densely populated areas, even when its troops weren't in the area and safe smoke shells were available. As a result, civilians needlessly suffered and died." All of this violated international conventions, to which Israel is not a signatory. So Israel claims it did not violate international law.
 
Many human rights organizations have criticized Israel for using excessive force in the Gaza attacks, including flame-generating chemical munitions in densely populated areas during its aerial, naval and ground assaults. The approval of the use of these horror weapons is part of the list of war crimes which have been brought by University of Johannesburg Professor Farid Esack and Palestine Solidarity Committee members who filed war crimes charges at the Johannesburg Central Police station against Benjamin.
 
Another complaint was filed with the help of international law professors John Dugard and Max du Plessis. which called on the National Directorate of Public Prosecutions in South Africa to investigate war crimes by numerous Israelis involved in the Gaza massacre.
 
Protests Mounted Against Benjamin’s Speaking
 
At the beginning of August, Benjamin visited South Africa. He is a native of South Africa and obtained a law degree there in 1989. A Jewish cultural and educational group known as Limmud asked Benjamin to speak at their annual conference which was to include prominent South African Jewish scholars. A major controversy broke out and groups such as the Palestinian Solidarity Committee, the Muslim Judicial Council and the South African Congress of Trade Unions demanded that Benjamin not be allowed to speak because they consider Benjamin a war criminal. Limmud would not back down.
 
Benjamin did speak on August 9 at the university in Johannesburg, as well as at the University of the Witwatersrand on August 12. There students were prepared to mount a protest designed to prevent him from speaking, but the university hired a private security guard company made up largely of young white men to keep protestors off campus. According to student reports broadcast by South Africa’s News 24.com. there was racial profiling by the guards which led to Blacks and Indians being refused entry on campus.
 
It is important that we are enlightened about the dark underbelly of current U.S. policy toward Israel. Why have not the talking heads of either political party cried out in horror? It’s clear that Obama is not going to use his bully pulpit to call for real justice in the Middle East.

 

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World Can't Wait mobilizes people living in the United States to stand up and stop war on the world, repression and torture carried out by the US government. We take action, regardless of which political party holds power, to expose the crimes of our government, from war crimes to systematic mass incarceration, and to put humanity and the planet first.