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[casi] re: DU in Israel

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On the iac-discussions mailinglist this article was posted:

Sent: Monday, November 20, 2000 9:46 PM
Subject: [iac-disc.] ISRAEL USES DU SHELLS:


By John Catalinotto

A major anti-war organization in the United States is
calling for an international investigation of Israeli use of
depleted uranium shells in its attempt to repress the Al-
Aqsa Intifada--the uprising of Palestinians against the

International Action Center Co-director Sara Flounders told
Workers World Nov. 12 that the IAC was calling upon
"international organizations, NGOs, environmental and health
organizations to investigate the Israeli military's use of
prohibited weapons in the West Bank and Gaza, and to
mobilize to stop it. These weapons include dumdum bullets,
CS gas and depleted uranium weapons."

Flounders was in occupied Palestine from Oct. 28-Nov. 2 as
part of a four-person IAC delegation. The delegation was on
a fact-finding mission and also delivered medical supplies
to Palestinian clinics and hospitals in the territories.

"Such use of DU weapons," says Flounders, "adds to the
crimes the Israeli forces are committing against the
Palestinian population. Israeli helicopter gun ships are
firing into densely populated areas. According to
international law these attacks on civilian areas are war
crimes, as is the long-term destruction of the environment
from depleted uranium contamination.

"The radioactive materials enter into the land, the water
and the whole food chain, contaminating the densely-
populated West Bank and Gaza, where water is a scarce
resource. The wanton radioactive contamination of this
region is a crime against all of humanity and a threat to
the entire region now and for generations to come.

"We urge scientists, doctors and soldiers who have handled
these weapons to come forward with information. Information
supplied this way in Puerto Rico, Okinawa and south Korea
recently have helped mobilize against DU use and put the
Pentagon on the defensive. This crime and its long-term
impact must be fully exposed and stopped."


The draft of a paper on DU the IAC intends to release Nov.
16 shows that in Vieques, Puerto Rico, and in Okinawa,
Panama and south Korea, the Pentagon had either kept secret
or denied using DU until popular organizations challenged
the U.S. military.

Following the protests, the Pentagon was forced to admit DU
use. In Okinawa the U.S. apologized and promised not only to
no longer use DU but also to begin to clean up spent DU

In addition, movements in France, Italy and other NATO
countries occupying Kosovo have sparked official
investigations of the dangers their troops face from
exposure to DU from shells fired by U.S. planes during the
1999 war. There are reports that the Portuguese government
will withdraw its troops because of DU dangers.

Flounders told how the IAC delegation witnessed "Israeli
attack helicopters, which people described to us as 'Apache'
helicopters from the U.S., firing shells and rockets at
targets in and around Ramallah. We then examined a small
office used by the Fatah organization that the projectiles
hit and destroyed."


"We also saw Israeli tanks and other armored vehicles firing
machine-gun rounds and larger projectiles at youthful
demonstrators in Ramallah," Flounders added. "We collected
some of the shell casings and metal fragments from the
different target areas to bring back to the United States
for evaluation and testing."

Flounders said: "As we were preparing to leave from Ben
Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, members of our delegation were
stopped, searched and interrogated. The shell casings and
metal fragments were confiscated. While this prevented us
from doing our own tests, it made us even more suspicious
that the Israeli forces were using DU shells."

A 1995 report from the U.S. Army Environmental Policy
Institute asserts that Israel is one of the countries with
DU munitions in its arsenal. Given Israel's own nuclear
program and well-developed military industry, the IAC
believes Israel is quite likely a manufacturer of its own
DU ammunition.

The "Apache" and the Cobra helicopters--both used by the
Israeli armed forces--are equipped to fire DU shells. Also,
the Israeli Sabra tank is modeled on the Abrams M1A1 tank,
which is also capable of firing DU shells.

DU is a waste product of the process that produces enriched
uranium for use in atomic weapons and nuclear power plants.
Because it is extremely dense, when turned into a metal DU
can be used to make a shell that penetrates steel. It's also
pyrophoric; that is, it burns when heated by friction when
it strikes steel.

When DU burns, it spews tiny particles of poisonous and
radioactive uranium oxide into the air. The small particles
can be ingested or inhaled by humans for miles around. Even
one particle, when lodged in a vital organ, can be

At least 600,000 pounds of DU and uranium dust was left
around Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia by U.S. and British
forces during the 1991 war against Iraq. A symposium in
Baghdad in December 1998 found higher rates of childhood
leukemia and other cancers in people living around Basra,
and attributed this to DU contamination. For some cancers
the rates were 5 to 10 times higher than normal.


DU is also considered at least a contributing cause to the
120,000 reported cases of "Gulf War Syndrome." Numerous
international studies in Britain, the United States and Iraq
have linked Gulf War Syndrome to the use of radioactive
weapons in the bombing. The chronic symptoms of this ailment
range from sharp increases in cancers to memory loss,
chronic pain, fatigue and birth defects in the veterans'

While the Pentagon continues to deny any great dangers from
DU, the 1995 U.S. Army Environmental Policy Institute study,
entitled "Health and Environmental Consequences of Depleted
Uranium in the U.S. Army," stated: "If DU enters the body,
it has the potential to generate significant medical
consequences. The risks associated with DU in the body are
both chemical and radiological.... Personnel inside or near
vehicles struck by DU penetrators could receive significant
internal exposures."

DU is also used to make tank armor and is used in heavily
armored Israeli vehicles. Exposure to radiation for those
remaining in the tanks for a long time or from handling wea
pons can be another source of danger.

"Like the U.S. generals who are the main supplier of Israeli
weapons," said Flounders, "the Israeli general staff are
indifferent to protecting the long-term health of their own
rank-and-file soldiers, not to speak of their racist
contempt for the Palestinians.

"For groups inside Israel who oppose the repression of
Palestinians, challenging DU use could increase the
conscientious resistance from individual Israeli troops that
has already surfaced."

For more information on the campaign against DU weapons,
visit the IAC Web site at or read the book
Metal of Dishonor, which can be ordered on-line from

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