Goldstone member: Israel’s toxic munitions could leave Gaza uninhabitable

on 60 Comments

While AIPAC maneuvers Congress into the trained seal position to condemn the Goldstone Report, it’s really important to disseminate some of what the report actually found. Ken Silverstein’s interview in Harpers with retired Irish colonel Desmond Travers, a member of the commission, offers a short, great take on the report. It speaks for itself, especially the last paragraph. If Congress votes to denounce Goldstone with the Pyongyang-type margins AIPAC can typically muster, it will be an historically dark day in that institution.

Travers’s last answer:

We were disturbed by the lethality and toxicity of weapons used in Gaza, some of which have been in Western arsenals since the Cold War, such as white phosphorous, which incinerated 14 people, including several children in one attack; flechettes, small darts that are designed to tumble upon entering human flesh in order to cause maximum damage, strictly in breach of the Geneva Convention; and highly carcinogenic tungsten shrapnel and dime [Dense Inert Metal Explosive] munitions, which contain tungsten in powder form. There is also a whole cocktail of other problematic munitions suspected to have been used.

There are a number of other post-conflict issues in Gaza that need to be addressed. The land is dying. There are toxic deposits from all the munitions that have been dropped. There are serious issues with water—its depletion and its contamination. There is a high instance of nitrates in the soil that is especially dangerous to children. If these issues are not addressed, Gaza may not even be habitable by World Health Organization norms.

About Scott McConnell

Scott McConnell is a founding editor of the American Conservative. The former editorial page editor of The New York Post, he has written for Fortune, The New Criterion, National Review, Commentary and many other publications.

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60 Responses

  1. Richard Witty
    November 1, 2009, 1:51 pm

    What can improve the situation?

    Does complaining about Goldstone, change the toxicity? It seems skew.

    Why not urge that Congress do something in fact for the Gazan Palestinians.

    • Chaos4700
      November 1, 2009, 2:00 pm

      Like maybe send the US Navy to drive off the Israeli ships enforcing the total blockade that is leaving the Gazans starving, isolated and destitute? I know! We can call it “Operation Liberty Returns”

      • potsherd
        November 1, 2009, 9:27 pm

        Great idea! Why don’t you mention it to Barack Obama, who could do the thing with a single wave of his pen.

    • Chaos4700
      November 1, 2009, 2:02 pm

      Additionally, how exactly are we supposed to address the toxicity when the Zionist lobby is calling for the Goldstone report to be declared a fraud? What exactly are you doing about that?

      • Citizen
        November 1, 2009, 2:14 pm

        Chaos, you forgot Witty never acknowleges the reality of what W & M call the Israel Lobby. Witty’s imaginative POV is of two boxers in the ring–Witty never acknowleges the oppressive power of AIPAC.

    • James
      November 1, 2009, 3:33 pm

      acknowledging the goldstone report would be a first step.. unfortunately people like yourself are unwilling to do even this…

    • Citizen
      November 1, 2009, 5:55 pm

      Witty, our congress just voted to ignore G0ldstone, and also to cut off Iran’s refined oil supply. Remember Imperial Japan?

    • James Bradley
      November 1, 2009, 8:59 pm

      The Goldstone report addresses the toxicity issue. It brings the issue to the international level.

      The Goldstone report was made so that we DO something about whats happening in Gaza.

      If congress passes a bill saying that the Goldstone report is a farce, then all the horrible things that happened in Gaza, that continue to occur in Gaza, and see no future of being remedied will continue to go unabated all because of people like Witty who don’t believe we are allowed to do anything to help the Palestinians that would involve criticizing the people who brutally murder and occupy them.

      Have a heart Richard, for once in your life, the kids of Gaza are going to die because you and others like you are afraid of slapping Israel on the wrist for perpetrating crimes against humanity.

  2. Call Me Ishmael
    November 1, 2009, 1:57 pm

    Gaza and its people will be systematically destroyed by Israel unless the Israel Lobby and its fellow travelers can be defeated within the American political system. Where will the power to defeat that pernicious Lobby, which advocates for pure evil, come from?

    • VR
      November 1, 2009, 5:27 pm

      Call Me Ismael, it is going to take a bit more than what the population is currently used to doing. AIPAC is nothing but a symptom of a system that has gone awry, it is not what it claims to be – of, for, and by the people. It has to come from the people, it will not come from an “alternative” that is more of the same with a smile, and it is certainly not going to be stopped by constant dialogue. So what we have here is a double effort, one that is going to have address this gaping hole of how the people are being routed through powerful lobbies, and the will of the people can best be displayed by their willingness to take on this particular lobby. What you cannot afford to do is to try to take it on not acknowledging the entire context of the problem.

      • Citizen
        November 1, 2009, 6:21 pm

        so it’s like mac and pc, each building new programs, and you have no choice–the old car industry is now the info vehicle industry

  3. Richard Witty
    November 1, 2009, 2:04 pm

    On the blockade, the only current possibility is international management of the port, consented by Israel.

    Why not argue for that?

    • Citizen
      November 1, 2009, 2:25 pm

      Sounds good, Witty, international management of the port–how realistic is this idea in the context of what has happened to the little international boats sent in by those supporting Gaza’s survival? “Consented to by Israel?” Witty, you are a really bad joke. You are not American in spirit, that’s for sure.

      • VR
        November 1, 2009, 11:48 pm

        We will send Witty on a small boat from Cyprus to negotiate…

    • Chaos4700
      November 1, 2009, 2:30 pm

      So Palestinian sovereignty is out of the question?

      I vote we treat the Israeli pirates the same way we treat the Somali ones. It’s only fair.

      • Donald
        November 1, 2009, 6:13 pm

        Yeah, this is Witty tacitly arguing for the legitimacy of Israel’s blockade–it can only end with Israel’s consent and with Palestinians giving up sovereignty. But nothing like this can be imposed on Israel–it would be an act of hatred, you see, to prevent weapons from arriving in their ports, let alone to impose the sort of draconian sanctions that would prevent any construction of any houses from occurring. Witty will help alleviate Palestinian suffering, but it has to be on terms that lets Israel off the hook, morally and legally. He’s sincere about wanting to end suffering, but he is in deadly earnest that it has to be on his terms. And if we don’t agree with his terms, it’s not because they are unjust, but because we’re vengeful, driven by anger.

        It’d be a more interesting thing to discuss if we first acknowledged just what we are talking about–Israel is committing a sadistic act of collective punishment against the Gazans in order to drive a wedge between the ordinary Gazans and Hamas. Ethan Bronner regularly reports this in exactly those terms in the NYT (though I think he is open about what is going on because, like Witty, he doesn’t see anything fundamentally wrong with it.) So maybe the only way to end this blockade is to admit that because there is no chance that the US government will stand up to Israel on this matter, so to help the Palestinians we have to concede to Israeli demands and hope that they will respond by magnamiously refraining from further acts of collective punishment.

      • James
        November 1, 2009, 8:30 pm

        but donald, you haven’t given you full name and therefore you aren’t a legitimate voice according to richard witty who signs his full name…. you see, the type of insanity you are trying to communicate with is very over the top and always above reproach…

    • James Bradley
      November 1, 2009, 9:01 pm

      Why not end the blockade? Why must we continue the blockade? Its against international law, its brutal, its inhumane, its medieval.

      Why do you insist that the blockade remain? Are you even human Witty?

    • potsherd
      November 1, 2009, 9:29 pm

      You go call up Netanyahu and tell him that, how about?

    • Shingo
      November 2, 2009, 4:25 am

      Why not the management of the Gazan Port by the democratically elected leadership of Gaza? I know it’s a radical proposition, the idea of Palestinians having self determination and all…

      If you are serious about an international presence, why not argue about one in the occupied territories?

  4. Nolan
    November 1, 2009, 2:32 pm

    DIME bombs are designed to sever parts of the lower body as they impact the ground. Many Palestinian children had their legs destroyed by these and had to have them amputated. Bear in mind there were more than 5,000 wounded Palestinians during last winter’s massacre, that’s in addition to the 1400 dead.

    The flechettes are small in size, they are packed by the thousands into exploding bombs, when the bombs go off, the dart-like flechettes scatter in all directions producing sever internal damage, that is worse than the shrapnel of a regular bomb.

    Tungsten shrapnel causes long term damage as it is very difficult to remove from the body and the remaining microscopic fragments lead to flechettes cancer tumors throughout the body.

    • Taxi
      November 2, 2009, 12:59 am

      Actually, Nolan, dime bombs explode some 3-4 feet before hitting the ground, assuring loss of limbs and decapitation.

  5. Nolan
    November 1, 2009, 2:34 pm


    Tungsten shrapnel causes long term damage as it is very difficult to remove from the body and the remaining microscopic fragments lead to flechettes cancer tumors throughout the body.

    • VR
      November 1, 2009, 5:36 pm

      The use of this experimental weaponry is nothing new, I was talking about it back in 2006 on my blog. There was a special done on this in Italy – rainews24, it is approximately 18 minutes long, but it delievers quite a bit of information. Needless to say this has not been covered in the US media –


      • Citizen
        November 1, 2009, 6:00 pm

        Yeah, well, a Palestinian kid’s life is not worth a USA dime. Gee, who can we thank for such ethics?

      • VR
        November 1, 2009, 6:32 pm

        You are right Citizen, and this is nothing but further exposure of the fact that the Israelis do not consider the life of Palestinians worth anything. They try to say that the use of DIME is humane, but what it does is insure death within a smaller radius to human beings with a minimum of structural damage. What the Israelis say is send you’re experimental weapons here, we will use them on these human being which they consider animals – if they do not die immediately they can die a slow cancerous death later. Than they try to capitalize on how other countries can oppress their own “undesirable populations,” this is why it is so important for them to maintain the lie that all that they are doing is “security” – so they can repackage it, and at the same time continue the REAL goal of the genocide of the Palestinian population.

  6. Cheryl
    November 1, 2009, 5:55 pm

    Does anyone know if any of the weapons used in Gaza and mentioned in this paragraph are manufactured in the U.S. ? (“white phosphorous, which incinerated 14 people, including several children in one attack; flechettes, small darts that are designed to tumble upon entering human flesh in order to cause maximum damage, strictly in breach of the Geneva Convention; and highly carcinogenic tungsten shrapnel and dime [Dense Inert Metal Explosive] munitions, which contain tungsten in powder form. There is also a whole cocktail of other problematic munitions suspected to have been used.”)

  7. Cheryl
    November 1, 2009, 7:04 pm

    So, if by some crazy change of events the U.S. changed course and backed the Goldstone Report, and Israel is found guilty of Geneva convention/war crimes and the U.S. Congress supplied the weapons does Congress get thrown into jail somewhere? Or, in reverse, while most critics have suggested that the reason Susan Rice and the U.S. called the report biased and did not support it was because Israel threatened to walk away from the ever-present peace talks which Obama has set as a high priority on his international agenda, could it be simply U.S. self-preservation: not wanting to get called up as an accomplice to war crimes.

    • VR
      November 1, 2009, 7:26 pm

      That could be part of the equation Cheryl, because if you keep supplying weapons to a serial killer you become an accomplice. Along with this you have the classic foreign aid circle jerk which I have mentioned before – the “foreign aid” which is the peoples money goes to the country, in Israel’s case it is demanded that 85% of it is spent on weaponry made in the USA, and that way you’re money goes back surreptitiously into the packets of the elite few in the military industrial complex – a complete circle jerk. The guaranteed losers are not only the Palestinians but the American people, and than people wonder why so much “aid” is sent to Israel –


      So there is definitely confluence of interest. That is because those in power in the USA really do not care how many innocent people are killed, how many babies are bombed. Plus Israel is only too happy to oblige because they fulfill their demented dreams of genocide.

    • potsherd
      November 1, 2009, 7:51 pm

      More than that, they want to avoid the precedent which could see the US next up in the dock for the war crimes it has perpetrated against Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Lebanon, ad infinitum.

      • Citizen
        November 2, 2009, 6:41 am

        Obama told us we should not look back, just move forward, both domestically and in foreign affairs. I guess in his mind history never repeats itself? Never saw old wine in new bottles?

  8. Les
    November 1, 2009, 7:43 pm

    It is not AIPAC but the US media which maneuvers Congress and the American public with its portrayal of Israel not as ethnic cleanser and occupier but as the victim of Palestinian terrorists which thus justifies even white phosphorous dropped on the Gazans. Such coverage of Israel/Palestine should remind everyone of the same role played by the German media during World War II.

    • Cheryl
      November 1, 2009, 8:01 pm

      But regarding the media, the question is why? Of course, some would say it is because of high representation of Jews in ownership/policy making positions. But in my experience with the press on this subject, it is almost unbelievable how intense the lobbying can be ( and I use AIPAC as the top of the umbrella but I am really talking about the various loosely knit groups that W/M discuss some who just send emails to all of their members to react and others who can get quite vicious in their attacks.) Several years ago I was in a Congressional office and their was a beautiful packet in the trash from a Jewish Women’s Group. I remember being told that once a year this group has thousands of members call into Congress just to remind them that they are out there…..I do not know if this is true or not. I suspect that any news source that criticizes Israel or presents anyone of Palestinian heritage in a favorable light without running the “balance” piece showing a good Israeli would suffer the severe consequence of having to wade through LOTS of letters, phone calls, threats of not supporting etc.

      • Les
        November 2, 2009, 1:55 pm

        Even if there was not a state of Israel, the US media would be just as Jewish (over time, especially at the upper levels) because of the anti-Semitism that limited occupations to such literate people. In a modern world where information is everything, especially because of the US domination of the information industry, this gives a relative handful of people unprecedented influence. Jews, whether religious or not, who are involved with our media and concerned about what Israel is doing in their name to Palestinians, should take notice of what their bosses at the top are doing, and report on it. Knowledge is power but you have to act on it.

        The Israel Lobby uses the US media as a lever to manipulate not just the American government but the American public as well. Those manipulated American Jews who respond to the media manufactured propaganda that Israel is an innocent party, with their support for any and every atrocity Israel commits, must be seen as much victims of our media as are the Palestinians who have the audacity to resist occupation and ethnic cleansing. When dealing with these Jewish victims of the US media, it makes sense to always keep in mind on which end of the lever they are.

  9. radii
    November 1, 2009, 11:14 pm

    israel’s most toxic munition is zionism itself

  10. cogit8
    November 2, 2009, 12:52 am

    Many have come before and came to the same conclusions. Here is Tony Cliff writing in 1947:

    What is the Character of the Kibbutzim?
    In order to prove the progressive character of the Haganah, L.L. finds it necessary to emphasize that the kibbutz (Jewish Collective farms) are the backbone of this organisation. For one who looks at Palestine not from the standpoint of the national and social emancipation of the Arab masses of the east (40-50 millions in number) but from the standpoint of the member of the kibbutz, who is in a closed economy, the kibbutz is really a most progressive element. In the propaganda of the Zionists, the kibbutz appears to be really a communist cell in the backward east – a torch lighting up the darkness.

    But this is only a myth. The first question to be asked about these kibbutzim is: who finances them? The answer – the Zionist funds whose main source of income are the rich Jewish capitalists of USA, England and South Africa. What interest have capitalists in building communism? The fact that the Zionists built these kibbutzim is a result of the necessity to establish Jewish agriculture on the basis of 100 per cent Jewish labour. The collective form assured this much better than individual colonisation could. Jewish agricultural workers would not enthusiastically have supported the struggle for the conquest of land and the eviction of other tenants from it. Nor would Jewish agricultural wage earners have taken an active part in organising the struggle against Arab agricultural products. Besides this, a closed Jewish economy must undertake agriculture, but privately owned agricultural units based on Jewish labour would not yield satisfactory profits – hence the intervention of the national funds, and the construction of “labour settlements” (mainly kibbutzim).

    link to

    • Chaos4700
      November 2, 2009, 12:55 am

      This is why I despise it when Israel is touted as a socialist country. It’s not — it is, essentially, moreso a communist one. And there’s a difference, indeed.

      • Taxi
        November 2, 2009, 1:11 am

        In practice, Israel is a theocratic welfare-state sucking on the teat of us Americans.

        Religion means everything to zionism.

        Ironically, even Saddam Hussein believed in separation of mosque and state.

      • Taxi
        November 2, 2009, 1:13 am

        “Goldstone member: Israel’s toxic munitions could leave Gaza uninhabitable”.

        That’s why all Gazans should be immediately re-located to Jerusalem :-)

      • Chaos4700
        November 2, 2009, 4:19 pm

        Not religion, Taxi — religiosity. The actual moral tenets of Judaism don’t actually apply, one can see, merely the appearance that rituals and such are being adhered to.

      • Shmuel
        November 2, 2009, 5:25 pm


        Could you elaborate on why you think Israel is a communist country? Certain elements of socialism (even in the Leninist sense) were incorporated into the dominant stream of Zionism, mostly for show (as convincingly demonstrated by Sternhell), but even these have long since disappeared. Israel has a small communist party that has never been Zionist and has always been suspect and marginalised. A very small number of Zionists were admirers of Stalin (with the mustaches to prove it) until ’56. I can think of other communist-related curiosities having to do with Israel and Zionism (virtually all in the distant past), but none of them a communist state make.

        Anecdote time: Russian revolutionary and Zionist, Ber Borochov – who advocated a kind of national-communism – was once told by Lenin that if he tries to sit on the chairs of socialism and nationalism at the same time, he will end up falling in the crack between them.

    • Todd
      November 2, 2009, 11:43 am

      Cogit, my mother wasn’t even around in 1948, so I don’t know what the kibbutz experience was at that time. My kibbutz experience some 50 years later is that Jews did very little of the work, and what work was done, was mostly done by non-Jewish”volunteer” teens from Europe, or Druze. For the most part, the kibbutzniks were high-handed, bigoted and unfriendly brutes who pissed off their labor, and got tons of sabotage, purposeful laziness and general ill-will in return. The whole system seemed to be an unprofitable joke.

      It’s my understanding that many kibbutzim no longer accept volunteers, and rely on hispanic or other thirld-world labor to be shipped in and exploited. Israelis don’t confuse the willingness to perform migratory labor with citizenship, unless one is Jewish–and by my experience, Jews weren’t expected to perform migratory labor, or worry about citizenship status.

  11. cogit8
    November 2, 2009, 3:06 am

    As for the Goldstone Report, the United States has once again shamed itself and everything it stands for, for Israel. And the reason for this is?: MONEY.
    The whole world (especially the world without money) looks at America as having sold her soul for money. A bought and paid prostitute is a moral creature compared to our Congress passing motions which say “black is white – don’t pay attention to what you see with your own eyes”.
    I did not think in my lifetime I would ever see this country lieing and covering up the lies of others because it was bought and paid to do so.

  12. America First
    November 2, 2009, 4:54 am

    There have been many dark days but the darkest was when conservatives like Scott McConnell made common cause with the neocons and allowed them to destroy the only political force that might have been capable of resisting them. Did you really think that Trotskyites would remake themselves into a conserving force in society?

  13. America First
    November 2, 2009, 5:23 am

    What with the attention to Gaza recently, I predict a new deluge of Holocaust movies to focus the goy masses back on history’s one and only victims.

    • Citizen
      November 2, 2009, 6:50 am

      You can watch Brad Pitt in that fairly recent video game, er, I mean movie rip off of The Dirty Dozen–by the twerp who gave us Pulp Fiction.

  14. Awamori
    November 2, 2009, 7:46 am

    Every day dozens get killed in suicide bombers attacks in Iraq and Pakistan. All this is happening, after US has interfered there. But how cares, when we have “poor” Palestinians and “evil” Zionists?

  15. Citizen
    November 2, 2009, 8:33 am


    link to

    See also Part 2

    • potsherd
      November 2, 2009, 9:07 am

      I’m sure the US Congress averts its gaze from all of this evidence of Israeli war crimes.

      • Chaos4700
        November 2, 2009, 4:21 pm

        Well, I guess if Congress can pretend like torture, kidnapping, murder and kangaroo trials aren’t being done by our own government, pretending not to see it happen in Israel isn’t too much of a stretch.

  16. gmeyers
    November 2, 2009, 10:09 am

    As a chemist I’m a bit skeptical about the toxicity of residues of phosporus and vanadium. In large part because the producers, procurers and users of these weapons won’t in a million years pay for the highly expensive research needed to establish the toxicity/teratogenicity of their gadgets and without such research any assumptions remain inconclusive.

    But equally as a chemist I won’t hide the fact that I feel rather pleased that my family can comfortably live in an area of the world where such residues aren’t present.

    It’s rather typical of Western mentality that the merest whiff of lead in the paint of a child’s toy ‘Made in China’ can cause a panic but that we think nothing of spraying an entire (brownish) people with white phosphorus, vanadium shrapnel and DEU (in the case of Iraq).

  17. Mooser
    November 2, 2009, 10:53 am

    “As a chemist I’m a bit skeptical about the toxicity of residues of phosporus and vanadium. In large part because the producers, procurers and users of these weapons won’t in a million years pay for the highly expensive research needed to establish the toxicity/teratogenicity of their gadgets and without such research any assumptions remain inconclusive.”

    Logic like that, and you are a chemist? That’s the logic I would expect from an alchemist. So if the producers of the weapons won’t spend the money to prove that these weapons are in fact, dangerous even to those who use them against others, thab they can’t be proved dangerous, or carcinogenic? Sure, okay, and keep this guy away from the vinegar and baking soda!

    • VR
      November 2, 2009, 11:35 am

      It is just the language of self-interest Mooser, nothing more nothing less (chemist). We heard it voiced here, many times you do not get such honest statements, however skewed we think they are. Unfortunately this is what we are up against.

      • Donald
        November 2, 2009, 11:39 am

        It seems to me that neither you nor Mooser read what gmeyers said. He’s not defending the dropping of white phosphorus–look at the last sentence. Hell, reread his whole post.

        This is the sort of thing that makes one get tired of blog comment sections.

    • Donald
      November 2, 2009, 11:36 am

      There’s nothing wrong with his logic, Mooser–you’re just posturing. He’s saying they haven’t done the research, so we simply don’t know how toxic the materials might be, but he’s happy his family isn’t running the risk.

    • gmeyers
      November 2, 2009, 12:35 pm

      Yes, Mooser, in your attempt at being sharp you come across rather blunt on this occasion.

      I challenge anyone to provide conclusive proof that these substances are either toxic or innocuous, you probably won’t find it because the necessary research hasn’t been (and won’t be anytime soon) conducted yet.

      But in the absence of such results most of us (chemists included or perhaps even more so) will continue to take precautions to prevent contact, inhalation and possible transfer into soil or food of such materials. I manipulate vanadium based compounds regularly in my potting-shed lab and am very careful around them, even though they’re not known for their high toxicity.

      Not so some armies in the world that use this kind or related substances on civilian populations without consideration for any yet unknown health problems their residues may cause in the medium-long term…

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