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[ Presenting plain-text part of multi-format email ] On the iac-discussions mailinglist this article was posted: Sent: Monday, November 20, 2000 9:46 PM Subject: [iac-disc.] ISRAEL USES DU SHELLS: ISRAEL USES DU SHELLS: ANTI-WAR GROUP DEMANDS INVESTIGATION 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 occupation. 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." PENTAGON HID DU USE 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 shells. 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." ISRAELI AUTHORITIES SEIZED IAC'S MATERIALS "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 dangerous. 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. A REASON TO REFUSE DUTY 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' children. 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 www.iacenter.org or read the book Metal of Dishonor, which can be ordered on-line from www.leftbooks.com. _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk