LIVE UPDATES: Israeli weapons with shrapnel designed to maximise casualties, doctors say

Surgeons volunteering in Gaza have reported catastrophic injuries among children caused by Israeli-made weapons designed to maximise shrapnel dispersion, resulting in severe casualties, according to The Guardian on Thursday.

July 2, 2024 at 8:40 am

A Palestinian child receives medical treatment at Al Ahli Baptist Hospital after getting severely injured in an Israeli attack over Rimal neighborhood in Gaza City, Gaza on July 07, 2024. [Dawoud Abo Alkas – Anadolu Agency]

Surgeons who worked in European and al-Aqsa hospitals describe extensive wounds caused by ‘fragmentation’ shrapnel experts say is designed to maximize casualties

Israeli-made weapons designed to spray high levels of shrapnel are causing horrific injuries to civilians in Gaza and disproportionately harming children, foreign surgeons who worked in the territory in recent months have told the Guardian.

The doctors say many of the deaths, amputations and life changing wounds to children they have treated came from the firing of missiles and shells – in areas crowded with civilians – packed with additional metal designed to fragment into tiny pieces of shrapnel.

Volunteer doctors at two Gaza hospitals said that a majority of their operations were on children hit by small pieces of shrapnel that leave barely discernible entry wounds but create extensive destruction inside the body. Amnesty International has said that the weapons appear designed to maximise casualties.

Feroze Sidhwa, a trauma surgeon from California, worked at the European hospital in southern Gaza in April.

“About half of the injuries I took care of were in young kids. We saw a lot of so-called splinter injuries that were very, very small to the point that you easily missed them while examining a patient. Much, much smaller than anything I’ve seen before but they caused tremendous damage on the inside,” he said.

Weapons experts said the shrapnel and wounds are consistent with Israeli-made weapons designed to create large numbers of casualties unlike more conventional weapons used to destroy buildings. The experts question why they are being fired into areas packed with civilians.

an x-ray showing damage from fragmentation shrapnel
X-ray of the damage done to a 15-year-old’s leg by fragmentation shrapnel, some of which is still lodged in the bone. The surgeon said: “The shrapnel entered from the left into the tibia bone and exited through the fibula to the right of the image. Our word for very smashed bone is ‘comminuted’. Bone comminution does not get greater than this.” The surgeon has put in a stainless steel plate screwed into the tibia. Photograph: The Guardian

The Guardian spoke to six foreign doctors who have worked at two hospitals in Gaza, the European and al-Aqsa, in the last three months. All of them described encountering extensive wounds caused by “fragmentation” weapons, which they said have contributed to alarming rates of amputations since the war began. They said the injuries were seen in adults and children but that the damage done was likely to be more severe to younger bodies.

“Children are more vulnerable to any penetrating injury because they have smaller bodies. Their vital parts are smaller and easier to disrupt. When children have lacerated blood vessels, their blood vessels are already so small it’s very hard to put them back together. The artery that feeds the leg, the femoral artery, is only the thickness of a noodle in a small child. It’s very, very small. So repairing it and keeping the kid’s limb attached to them is very difficult,” Sidhwa said.

Mark Perlmutter, an orthopaedic surgeon from North Carolina, worked at the same hospital as Sidhwa.

“By far the most common wounds are one or two millimetre entry and exit wounds,” he said.

“X-rays showed demolished bones with a pinhole wound on one side, a pinhole on the other, and a bone that looks like a tractor trailer drove over it. The children we operated on, most of them had these small entrance and exit points.”

Perlmutter said children hit by multiple pieces of tiny shards often died and many of those who survived lost limbs.

“Most of the kids that survived had neurologic injuries and vascular injuries, a major cause of amputation. The blood vessels or the nerves get hit, and they come in a day later and the leg is dead or the arm is dead,” he said.

Sanjay Adusumilli⁩, an Australian surgeon who worked at the al-Aqsa hospital in central Gaza in April, recovered shrapnel made up of small metal cubes about three millimetres wide while operating on a young boy. He described wounds from fragmentation weapons distinguished by the shards of shrapnel destroying bone and organs while leaving just a scratch on the skin.

Explosives experts who reviewed pictures of the shrapnel and the doctors’ descriptions of the wounds said they were consistent with bombs and shells fitted with a “fragmentation sleeve” around the explosive warhead in order to maximise casualties. Their use has also been documented in past Israeli offensives in Gaza.

Trevor Ball, a former US army explosive ordnance disposal technician, said the explosive sprays out tungsten cubes and ball bearings that are far more lethal than the blast itself.

“These balls and cubes are the main fragmentation effect from these munitions, with the munition casing providing a much smaller portion of the fragmentation effect. Most traditional artillery rounds and bombs rely on the munition casing itself rather than added fragmentation liners,” he said.

Cubes removed from a child by Sanjay Adusumilli, an Australian surgeon working at the al-Aqsa hospital in central Gaza.
Cubes removed from a child by Sanjay Adusumilli, an Australian surgeon working at the al-Aqsa hospital in central Gaza. Photograph: Obtained by The Guardian

Ball said the metal cubes recovered by Adusumilli are typically found in Israeli-made weapons such as certain types of Spike missiles fired from drones. He said the doctors’ accounts of tiny entry wounds are also consistent with glide bombs and tank rounds fitted with fragmentation sleeves such as the M329 APAM shell, which is designed to penetrate buildings, and the M339 round which its manufacturer, Elbit Systems of Haifa, describes as “highly lethal against dismounted infantry”.

Some of the weapons are designed to penetrate buildings and kill everyone within the walls. But when they are dropped onto streets or among tents, there is no such containment.

“The issue comes with how these small munitions are being employed,” said Ball. “Even a relatively small munition employed in a crowded space, especially a space with little to no protection against fragmentation, such as a refugee camp with tents, can lead to significant deaths and injuries.”

Amnesty International first identified ammunition packed with the metal cubes used in Spike missiles in Gaza in 2009.

“They appear designed to cause maximum injury and, in some respects, seem to be a more sophisticated version of the ball-bearings or nails and bolts which armed groups often pack into crude rockets and suicide bombs,” Amnesty said in a report at the time.

Ball said that weapons fitted with fragmentation sleeves are “relatively small munitions” compared with the bombs that have a wide blast area and have damaged or destroyed more than half the buildings in Gaza. But because they are packed with additional metal, they are very deadly in the immediate vicinity. The shrapnel from a Spike missile typically kills and severely wounds over a 20-metre (65-ft) radius.

Another weapons expert, who declined to be named because he sometimes works for the US government, questioned the use of such weapons in areas of Gaza crowded with civilians.

“The claim is that these weapons are more precise and limit casualties to a smaller area. But when they are fired into areas with high concentrations of civilians living in the open with nowhere to shelter, the military knows that most of the casualties will be those civilians,” he said.

In response to questions about the use of fragmentation weapons in areas with concentrations of civilians, the Israel Defense Forces said that military commanders are required “to consider the various means of warfare that are equally capable of achieving a defined military objective, and to choose the means that is expected to cause the least incidental damage under the circumstances.

“The IDF makes various efforts to reduce harm to civilians to the extent feasible in the operational circumstances ruling at the time of the strike,” it said.

“The IDF reviews targets before strikes and chooses the proper munition in accordance with operational and humanitarian considerations, taking into account an assessment of the relevant structural and geographical features of the target, the target’s environment, possible effects on nearby civilians, critical infrastructure in the vicinity, and more.”

The UN children’s agency, Unicef has said that “staggering” numbers of children have been wounded in Israel’s assault on Gaza. The United Nations estimates that Israel has killed more than 38,000 people in Gaza in the present war of which at least 8,000 are confirmed to be children, although the actual figure is likely to be much higher. Tens of thousands have been wounded.

In June, the UN added Israel to a list of states committing violations against children during conflict, describing the scale of killing in Gaza as “an unprecedented scale and intensity of grave violations against children”, principally by Israeli forces.

Many of the cases recalled by the surgeons involved children severely injured when missiles landed in or near areas where hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are living in tents after being driven from their homes by the Israeli assault.

an x-ray shows shrapnel lodged in a body
An X-ray of a man with tiny pieces of shrapnel (the white specks) in his body. Photograph: The Guardian

Perlmutter described repeatedly encountering similar wounds.

“Most of our patients were under 16,” he said. “The exit wound is only a couple millimetres big. The entrance wound is that big or smaller. But you can see it is extremely high velocity because of the damage it does on the inside. When you have multiple small fragments travelling at insane speeds, it does soft tissue damage that far outweighs the size of the fragment.”

Adusumilli⁩ described treating a six-year-old boy who arrived at the hospital after an Israeli missile strike close to the tent where his family was living after fleeing their home under Israeli bombardment. The surgeon said the child had pinhole wounds that gave no indication of the scale of the damage beneath the skin.

“I had to open his abdomen and chest. He had lacerations to his lung, to his heart, and holes throughout his intestine. We had to repair everything. He was lucky that there was a bed in the intensive care unit. But, despite that, that young boy died two days later,” he said.

An American emergency room doctor now working in central Gaza, who did not want to be named for fear of jeopardising his work there, said that medics continue to treat deeply penetrating wounds created by fragmentation shards. The doctor said he had just worked on a child who suffered wounds to his heart and major blood vessels, and a build up of blood between his ribs and lungs that made it difficult to breathe.

Sidhwa said that “about half of the patients that we took care of were children”. He kept notes on several, including a nine year-old girl, Jouri, who was severely injured by shards of shrapnel in an air strike on Rafah.

“We found Jouri dying of sepsis in a corner. We took her to the operating room and found that both of her buttocks had been completely flayed open. The lowest bone in her pelvis was actually exposed to the skin. These wounds were covered in maggots. Her left leg she was missing a big chunk of the the muscles on the front and back of the leg, and then about two inches of her femur. The bone in the leg was just gone,” he said.

Sidhwa said doctors were able to save Jouri’s life and treat septic shock. But in order to save what remained of her leg, the surgeons shortened it during repeated operations.

The problem, said Sidhwa, is that Jouri will need constant care for years to come and she’s unlikely to find it in Gaza.

“She needs advanced surgical intervention every one to two years years as she grows to bring her left femur back to the length it needs to be to match her right leg, otherwise walking will be impossible,” he said.

“If she does not get out of Gaza, if she survives at all, she will be permanently and completely crippled.”

Adusumilli⁩ said fragmentation weapons resulted in high numbers of amputations among children who survived.

“It was unbelievable the number of amputations we had to do, especially on children, he said. “The option you’ve got to save their life is to amputate their leg or their hands or their arms. It was a constant flow of amputations every day.”

Adusumilli operated on a seven year-old girl who was hit by shrapnel from a missile that landed near her family’s tent.

A 15-year-old malnourished boy with a pinhole wound in the middle of his chest.
A 15-year-old malnourished boy with a pinhole wound in the middle of his chest. Photograph: The Guardian

“She came in with her left arm completely blown off. Her family brought the arm in wrapped in a towel and in a bag. She had shrapnel injuries to her abdomen so I had to open up her abdomen and control the bleeding. She ended up having her left arm amputated,” he said.

“She survived but the reason I remember her is because as I was rushing into the operating theatre, she reminded me of my own daughter and it sort of it was very difficult to accept emotionally.”

Unicef estimated that in the first 10 weeks of the conflict alone about 1,000 children lost one or both of their legs to amputations.

The doctors said that many of the limbs could be saved in more normal circumstances but that shortages of medicines and operating theatres limited surgeons to carrying out emergency procedures to save lives. Some children endured amputations without anaesthetic or painkillers afterwards which hindered their recovery alongside the challenges of rampant infections because of unsanitary conditions and lack of antibiotics.

Adusumilli said that, as a result, some children saved on the operating table died later when they could have been saved in different conditions.

“The sad part is that you do what you can to try and help these kids. But at the end of the day, the fact that the hospital is so overcrowded and doesn’t have the resources in intensive care, they just end up dying later on.”

articolo pubblicato BMJ. english -italian


December 3, 2023

Dear  Editor, 

you aptly illustrated that UN bodies asked for full stop of the military operations on Gaza, appealed to the ICC, in view of a carnage of women and children (70% of the 15.000 plus victims) as never before in the century and targeting of health infrastructures and personnel. 

After a pause, this is just starting again.

Calls to protect health personnel by medical professionals, were not echoed by the Israeli Medical Association, national medical associations, and the World Medical Association; they remained silent, regardless of clear targeting of health services. They ignored the sacrifice in lives (plus 160 victims) of medical teams and expressed no solidarity and support for their abnegation in the dire situation. 

The ethical dilemmas of Gaza professionals lacking means for proper anesthesia, pain relief and for reducing post trauma infections, should interrogate medical professionals and be ground for requesting protection and accounting. Hundreds more children’s and adult’s lives were lost in hospitals, adding to those killed by the weapons. 

It was not proven that Al Shifa was the location of central command of Hamas, and anyhow how this implies attacks on all (29/35) health facilities in the North of Gaza? 

Since October 8, all were strangled by cutting water, electricity, fuel, food and all medical supplies, menaced if did not close, then directly hit and personnel arrested or displaced forcibly out of the facility. 

Summarizing major events: October  17 Alhi hospital courtyard bombed; Turkish friendship cancer, Eyes, Wada, Pediatric Nasser and Rantissi hospitals hit and forced to close, the last with forcible displacement of the personnel and families, while not transportable babies were left unattended; Awda hospital and the Aqsa hospital repeatedly damaged by hits, whit many victims; Indonesia hospital and Shifa -both hit many times destroying whole sections, killing attending nurses and others. Essential machinery, surgical theaters, oxygen generator, solar panels, and ICUs directly hit; personnel kept captive while bodies of the dead accumulated in their premises, when hospital had become shelter for thousands of displaced people. 

Regardless of abnegation of personnel, no fully functional medical facilities and maternities remain in the North of Gaza. 52 out of 75 primary care clinics and adult not communicable disease and dialysis services forced to close. The medical and science faculties in Gaza were destroyed.  More than 100 UNWRA personnel was killed. More than 50 ambulances taken off use.

Worse, this is not totally new or unexpected: since 2014 IDF attacked hospitals and education structures, impairing survival and future for all. During the 17 years siege of Gaza, health services were constantly impaired through denial of instruments and supplies, restricting permits for training and of access for foreign professionals, as documented by UN, major NGOs (1). Since 2021 this ban was the tightest, and the economic crisis due to the blockade induced decrease in the number of university medicine and science students.

The temporary ceasefire showed the immense devastation also of hospitals, made more sad because attacks on hospital was recommended also by 100 Israeli doctors (2) in contravention with any international law and ethics.

Should not all professionals and their associations, finally chorally ask a full unconditional and long lasting ceasefire, condemn the destruction of health structure which multiplies deaths, recognize the abnegation of the Gaza colleagues, appreciate that a war crime has been committed and lament also the forced dispersal of accumulated work, experience and labor invested in the Gaza’s health system which can hardly be reconstructed in short time? should they not uphold the inalienable human right of care for the people of Gaza? should they not help by standing strongly to go beyond temporary charity and advocate for stable resolutions?

Paola Manduca, Geneticist, 

retired Associate Professor University of Genoa, Italy


Caro editore,

hai giustamente illustrato che gli organismi delle Nazioni Unite hanno chiesto la cessazione totale delle operazioni militari su Gaza, hanno fatto appello alla Corte penale internazionale, in vista di una carneficina di donne e bambini (il 70% delle oltre 15.000 vittime) come mai prima nel secolo e che ha preso di mira la salute infrastrutture e personale.

Dopo una pausa, tutto questo ricomincia.

Le richieste di protezione del personale sanitario da parte dei professionisti medici non hanno trovato eco nell’Associazione medica israeliana, nelle associazioni mediche nazionali e nella World Medical Association; sono rimasti in silenzio, nonostante la chiara presa di mira dei servizi sanitari. Hanno ignorato il sacrificio di vite umane (più di 160 vittime) delle équipe mediche e non hanno espresso solidarietà né sostegno per la loro abnegazione in una situazione disastrosa.

I dilemmi etici dei professionisti di Gaza, privi di mezzi per un’anestesia adeguata, per alleviare il dolore e per ridurre le infezioni post trauma, dovrebbero interrogare i professionisti medici e costituire la base per richiedere protezione e rendicontazione. Altre centinaia di bambini e adulti hanno perso la vita negli ospedali, aggiungendosi a quelli uccisi dalle armi.

Non è stato dimostrato che Al Shifa fosse la sede del comando centrale di Hamas, e comunque come ciò implica attacchi a tutte le (29/35) strutture sanitarie nel nord di Gaza?

Dall’8 ottobre, tutti sono stati strangolati tagliando acqua, elettricità, carburante, cibo e tutte le forniture mediche, minacciati se non venivano chiusi, poi colpiti direttamente e il personale arrestato o sfollato con la forza fuori dalla struttura.

Riassumendo i principali eventi: 17 ottobre bombardato il cortile dell’ospedale Alhi; Amici turchi per cancro, gli ospedali Eyes, Wada, Pediatric Nasser e Rantissi colpiti e costretti a chiudere, l’ultimo con sfollamento forzato del personale e delle famiglie, mentre i bambini non trasportabili sono stati lasciati incustoditi; l’ospedale di Awda e l’ospedale di Aqsa ripetutamente danneggiati dai colpi, con numerose vittime; L’ospedale indonesiano e quello di Shifa hanno entrambi colpito più volte distruggendo intere sezioni, uccidendo infermieri e altre persone. Colpiti direttamente macchinari essenziali, sale operatorie, generatori di ossigeno, pannelli solari e unità di terapia intensiva; il personale veniva tenuto prigioniero mentre i corpi dei morti si accumulavano nei loro locali, quando l’ospedale era diventato rifugio per migliaia di sfollati.

Nonostante l’abnegazione del personale, nel nord di Gaza non rimangono strutture mediche e maternità pienamente funzionanti. 52 su 75 ambulatori di assistenza primaria e servizi di dialisi e malattie non trasmissibili per adulti sono costretti a chiudere. Le facoltà di medicina e di scienze a Gaza sono state distrutte. Più di 100 membri del personale dell’UNWRA furono uccisi. Sono state dismesse più di 50 ambulanze.

Quel che è peggio, non è una cosa del tutto nuova o inaspettata: dal 2014 l’IDF ha attaccato ospedali e strutture educative, compromettendo la sopravvivenza e il futuro di tutti. Durante i 17 anni di assedio di Gaza, i servizi sanitari sono stati costantemente compromessi attraverso la negazione di strumenti e forniture, la limitazione dei permessi di formazione e di accesso per i professionisti stranieri, come documentato dalle Nazioni Unite e dalle principali ONG (1). Dal 2021 questo divieto è stato il più severo e la crisi economica dovuta al blocco ha provocato una diminuzione del numero degli studenti universitari di medicina e scienze.

Il cessate il fuoco temporaneo ha mostrato l’immensa devastazione anche degli ospedali, resa ancora più triste perché gli attacchi agli ospedali sono stati raccomandati anche da 100 medici israeliani (2) in violazione di qualsiasi diritto ed etica internazionale.

Non dovrebbero tutti i professionisti e le loro associazioni chiedere finalmente in coro un cessate il fuoco totale, incondizionato e duraturo, condannare la distruzione delle strutture sanitarie che moltiplica le morti, riconoscere l’abnegazione dei colleghi di Gaza, apprezzare che è stato commesso un crimine di guerra e lamentare anche la forzata dispersione del lavoro accumulato, dell’esperienza e della manodopera investita nel sistema sanitario di Gaza che difficilmente può essere ricostruito in breve tempo? non dovrebbero forse sostenere il diritto umano inalienabile alla cura del popolo di Gaza? non dovrebbero forse aiutarli impegnandosi con forza ad andare oltre la carità temporanea e a sostenere risoluzioni stabili?

Paola Manduca, Geneticist, 

retired Associate Professor University of Genoa, Italy







The war we don’t see: metals and deformities

Marwa and Hameed have only one child who is still alive. In 2012, a little girl died in Marwa’s life – with a deformed head, without a brain. In 2013, Leyla was born, but she died half an hour after birth – without kidneys, with deformed arms. The neighbours, Nadia and Mohammad, had three children, but all three died shortly after birth. The fourth child was born in 2011, dead and deformed. We are in Fallujah, an old city with 300,000 inhabitants. Fallujah – the Mother of Mosques – was the base of the Iraqi resistance, and was slaughtered by the US Army in 2004. Twice, in April and in November, everything alive in Fallujah was the target of killers on rooftops and in cockpits. Two years later, more and more mothers in the city started to have abortions, and more and more children were born deformed. Just like in Basra in the South: the bombing of Basra began in the Gulf War in 1990 and continued for twenty years. In 1995, more abortions and malformations was observed. In 2013, the number tripled. As in Nangarhar, the province that took the most bombs during America’s revenge war against Afghanistan after the 11 September attack. In 2005, I (HH) was invited by colleagues at the provincial hospital in Jalalabad to study birth defects they had never seen before.

Is there a pattern here? Let’s look at Gaza: In Christmas 2008, Gaza was bombed day and night for three weeks. Local wars are opportune laboratories for testing “improved weapons”, and two months earlier Israel had received batches of new American high explosives. In the tissue samples from the wounds of the survivors of the Christmas War, our research team found aluminium, copper, mercury, barium, vanadium, nickel, manganese and cadmium – all metals in higher concentrations than in uninjured control subjects. In 2011, we analyzed hair samples from newborns with birth defects at Shifa hospital. The concentration of mercury and selenium was significantly higher in the deformed babies than in healthy controls. In hair samples from pregnant Gazan mothers after the 2014 war, we observed the same pattern. From 2006 to 2017, the frequency of congenital structural malformations has increased from 1.1 to 1.9% and preterm births from 1.1 to 7.9%. About 40% of these children will die during the first month of life. But it’s worse: Malformations of the heart are not included – add two percent. Diseases and system errors making their clinical debut later in life such as cancer, immune defects and behavioral disorders are not included – add at least five percent.

Epigenetics and metals

Our body is in constant change. From the time I attach myself to the wall of the warm womb until I die, I form new cells and discharge cells that are damaged or expired. New cells are created on the basis of the gene recipes stored in the previous generation. This is the river of life. It can be damaged in two ways. Either genetically – by messing with the recipe, the DNA molecule in the cell nucleus. Or epigenetically – by messing up the expression, transmission and understanding of the recipes, of the gene signals. Because cells are talking to each other, and they use estrogen channels for communication, both in girls and boys. A number of metals can interfere with the recipient cells’ estrogen receptors, thus creating incorrect signals into the cell nucleus. These false messengers – “metal estrogens” – do not work along a simple dose-response line, the more-brandy-the-more-drunk. Minimal quantities are enough to confuse the signaling system and thereby cell division, and the effects of the heavy metal cocktail are totally unpredictable. In the first weeks of life in the mother’s womb, while we are just a cluster of a few hundred stem cells, while the organs – and especially the nervous tissue – are in the making, a single reading error may trigger disaster.

Let’s trace the path to these metals: Thermobaric projectiles are used against apartment buildings and shelters/tunnels. Thermo(heat)-bar(pressure) explosives work by spreading a cloud of highly explosive gases which are then ignited in an ultra-fast explosion. No conventional explosive weapon creates equivalent heat and pressure. The latest generation thermobaric projectile uses aluminum dust as explosive gas. Microparticles of aluminum – 5 hundredths of a millimeter in size – with a coating of heavy metal are ignited and spread over the impact field. Colleague Ghassan Abusitta at Shifa hospital reported three weeks ago more and more burn patients, then the thermobaric weapon are in use.

The explosive dust spreads everywhere. The pulverization of buildings spreads the metals to the entire population. Mum breathes, drinks and eats – and is slowly poisoned. The metals pass from the mother’s blood, across the placental barrier and into the fetus’s blood, where they also cross the blood-brain barrier. Mother dilutes her own toxic reserves while poisoning her young. All the metals we found in the tissue samples in Gaza have documented epigenetic effects. If this is not chemical warfare, the authors of this chronicle have misunderstood the term.

The hardest thing to think about

Cells talk to each other, but they have memory as well: Nano-doses of heavy metals leave epigenetic traces in the fetal germ cells. These traces lie dormant, are activated during adolescence, and can then be passed on to grandchildren’s children.

What kind of future are we looking into?

Hans Husum is a surgeon with a doctorate in war surgery.

Paola Manduca is professor of genetics at the University of Genoa.

“Klassekampen”, December 1, 2023

Israel’s bullets leave wounds that won’t heal

Due to the still-spreading bacterial infection in what remains of Muhammad Hussein’s leg, he has been unable to be fitted with a prosthesis.

Abdallah al-Naami The Electronic Intifada

Over five years have passed since an Israeli sniper shot Muhammad Hussein in the knee.

On 11 May 2018, Hussein was participating in the Great March of Return in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip.

Thousands of Palestinians had been gathering every Friday at the boundary with Israel since March 2018. The protesters sought to claim their right to return to their land, which was taken by force by the Israeli occupation in the 1948 Nakba.

Hussein was filming the march as part of a university project.

Then, an Israeli sniper shot a young man in front of Hussein.

Hussein was in shock. A few seconds later, he was also shot.

He fell to the ground, in pain. The wound started bleeding profusely, and Hussein passed out as the paramedics were treating him. He was taken directly to the emergency room at the European Gaza Hospital in Khan Younis, where he underwent an eight-hour operation.

After the surgery, Hussein was optimistic but still in pain.

“I thought I had recovered from the injury and that I would be able to walk again soon,” Hussein said.

After two weeks in the hospital, the doctors decided to amputate Hussein’s leg from above the knee, as they discovered inflammation and gangrene in the area of the injury.

Initially, Hussein and his family were so shocked that they refused the operation.

But it was the only option.

The day after the amputation was Hussein’s 20th birthday.

“I can’t forget how I felt that day. I was supposed to be spending a happy day with my friends and family,” he said. “Instead, the Israeli occupation turned it into a day of pain and grief.”

Never-ending infections

The UN monitoring group OCHA estimates that over 35,000 were injured during the protests, from March 2018 to November 2019. Among those injured, nearly 8,000 were shot with live ammunition.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) described those gunshot injuries as “devastating” and “of an unusual severity,” noting that doctors were observing “an extreme level of destruction to bones and soft tissue, and large exit wounds that can be the size of a fist.”

About two weeks after the amputation, Hussein started to experience severe pain in the area of his injury. At the hospital, the doctors discovered a bacterial infection and performed an emergency operation to control it.

Dr. Fadel Naim, a consultant orthopedist in Gaza City, said that Gaza lacks the equipment needed to diagnose bacterial infections, due to the Israeli blockade.

Such laboratory equipment can detect and determine types of bacteria so doctors can prescribe the necessary antibiotic. Without the equipment, infections only worsen.

Over a thousand Palestinians in Gaza experienced bacterial infections in their gunshot wounds, according to MSF, and many of these infections are resistant to common antibiotics.

According to Naim, many infections did not respond to any of the antibiotics available in the Gaza Strip, and they had to resort to amputation as a last resort to stop the spread of infections.

But, in many cases, even amputation was not enough.

Wounds that won’t heal

Over five years, Hussein has undergone three amputations, but they have all failed to stop the infection. Today, only a few centimeters of his leg remain, and the infection continues to spread.

“The doctors told me that if the infection spreads to the pelvic joint, it could be life-threatening,” Hussein said.

In 2019, he applied for a permit to travel for treatment in hospitals in both Jerusalem and the West Bank, but the Israeli authorities refused his request.

“After every surgery I had, I had hope that my wound would heal and my suffering with the injury would finally end,” he said. “I was disappointed and devastated every time.”

Khamis Fojo has undergone 18 surgeries and eight amputations after an Israeli sniper shot him above the knee in July 2018.

Abdallah al-Naami The Electronic Intifada

Khamis Fojo, 33, has experienced a similar sense of devastation and disappointment since an Israeli sniper shot him on 27 July 2018 during the Great March of Return.

He was over a kilometer from the boundary fence when he was shot above the knee. The bullet caused severe internal bleeding, and Fojo was in a coma for two weeks at the European Gaza Hospital.

“The last thing I remember before I passed out is the sound of a bullet,” he said. “It sounded like an explosion.”

“I thought I was going to die.”

Due to the severity of his injury, doctors amputated Fojo’s leg.

Six months after the amputation, he developed a fever and felt intense pain in his leg. A bacterial infection had developed.

Antibiotics were not enough to stop the infection, and surgery was the only option. Over the past five years, Fojo has undergone 18 surgeries, including eight amputations.

“Despite all the surgeries, my injury kept getting worse and more painful,” said Fojo, who lives in Rafah with his wife and four children.

“I still live in pain every day, especially at night,” he continued.

Fojo recently stopped taking painkillers, as they are no longer effective.

The Israeli authorities refused to grant Fojo a permit to travel for treatment in the West Bank or Jerusalem. He was rejected more than 10 times for a permit to enter Egypt until finally, in 2022 and 2023, he was allowed to travel there.

“The Egyptian doctors were shocked to see how bad my injury was,” he said. “They told me that they had never seen a case like mine before, and that the weapons that caused my injury should be internationally banned.”

Mental toll

Before the injury, Fojo was an active person, but now, he experiences anxiety and is quick to anger. He rarely leaves the house.

Muhammad Hussein has endured similar bouts of depression. “It was difficult for me to accept and cope with my disability and my constantly deteriorating injury,” he said.

Yet he obtained a degree in multimedia studies from Palestine Technical College in Deir al-Balah in 2021. And, eventually, he returned to weightlifting and physical training, but these are not activities that he can do with regularity.

As his infection spreads throughout the remainder of his leg, he has to take breaks for surgeries and to rest.

In 2021, Hussein undertook the necessary steps to get fitted for a prosthetic leg from Hamad Hospital for Rehabilitation and Prosthetics in Gaza. But the nerves in the injured leg still cause it to involuntarily twitch, especially during the night, which is frightening to Hussein.

Due to the bacteria spreading to the bone and the constant pain, a prosthesis was not possible.

Abdallah al-Naami is a journalist and photographer living in Gaza.

How do people with disabilities cope when Israel bombs Gaza?

When Israel invaded southern Gaza in 2014, Alaa al-Nahal, who is deaf, could not hear the Israeli attacks but he could feel them. Above, several men assist a woman wounded in the 2014 Israeli airstrikes on Khan Younis in southern Gaza.

Ramadan El-Agha APA images

Emad Qudeih was sitting with his friends on the road close to his house in Khan Younis when a loud explosion shook the area. It was May 2016, and he was only 13. Everyone panicked and fled, leaving him alone.

“I attempted to flee, but I didn’t know what road was safe,” Qudeih, now 20, said. “I’m blind. I just froze and awaited my fate.”

He remained still, frozen in fear, until his father rushed to his side and took him home. The Israeli military had bombed the area, and this was not the first time Qudeih had been caught in the violence of the occupation.

In the 2014 war, Qudeih and his family had to evacuate their home during Israeli ground invasions of the southern Gaza Strip.

All Palestinians in Gaza are vulnerable during Israeli attacks, but blind Palestinians are even more at risk.

Medications of no use

Qudeih was not born blind; he lost his sight gradually.

In the first grade, he lost sight in his right eye due to retinal detachment. Two years later he lost sight in his left eye for the same reason. He was 7 years old.

Between the ages of 7 and 14, he had surgery after surgery at St. John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital.

“The surgeries proved successful, and I was able to see for a while,” Qudeih said, “but a haze would eventually obscure my vision.”

It turned out that there was bleeding in his retinas. The doctors said the bleeding would go away with time and medications like eye drops.

“But the medications were of no use,” Qudeih said.

In 2015, when he was 12 years old, he traveled to Spain and underwent five surgeries in three months, but he lost vision completely several months after the surgeries.

Qudeih spoke to The Electronic Intifada at the Islamic University of Gaza, where he is pursuing a degree in English translation.

“In addition to proving myself to my professors,” he said, “it took me time to learn to navigate university facilities.”

He counts his steps while walking, so he can retrace them. He has also memorized various routes to help him get around.

“I want to be an activist who appears on TV, speaking both Arabic and English,” Qudeih said, “describing our needs as both disabled people and as Palestinians.”

“No one is going to hire a deaf person”

Alaa al-Nahal, 52, was watching the news on television during Israel’s 2014 war on Gaza, when suddenly he felt rumbling very close to his home, though he heard nothing.

“I felt the floor shaking and understood that the Israelis were bombing very near,” he said. “My wife hurried to me, telling me that it is better to evacuate the house.”The family gathered their belongings to evacuate Rafah – Gaza’s southernmost city. Israel declared a ground invasion on the Gaza Strip from the south.As the family were preparing to leave, a strong explosion shattered the windows.“They didn’t give us any warning [of the bombing],” al-Nahal said.Despite the terror of that night, al-Nahal said he didn’t face any special challenges during the war.“I found no difficulties other than not feeling safe in my house.”Many Palestinians in Gaza, living under siege, might say the same thing. But when al-Nahal was born, he had a fever that caused his hearing loss.Al-Nahal communicates with sign language, and his wife translated for us during our interview at their home.

He said his condition does not feel isolating, though he wishes he could find work.From 2001, al-Nahal had worked as a driver to support his four daughters and one son. However, when his car broke down in 2020, he had to sell it. Currently, the family receives social welfare payments to provide the daily necessities – though those payments are not always reliable.

“There is no income, and no one is going to hire a deaf person,” al-Nahal said. Sometimes his siblings help him out. But unemployment is already over 40 percent in Gaza, the result of the Israeli blockade, and his chances for work are small.

Occupation doesn’t differentiate

Hasan al-Zaalan, the head of the Palestinian General Union of People with Disabilities, explained how people with disabilities face many obstacles during Israel’s attacks.“People with disabilities face many obstacles amid wars, such as having limited mobility as they escape the bombing,” he said.

“The occupation does not differentiate between people with disabilities and others in wars. They do not respect their rights. In the last war, we had three … martyrs [who had disabilities] and others were injured.”

On 6 April 2018, Mahmoud Malakha, 34, who lives in the Shujaiya neighborhood of Gaza City, was going to retrieve the key to his coffee and snack shop from an employee who was attending the Great March of Return along the boundary with Israel.

He was among the other protesters when he “felt a powerful electric shock in my leg and fell to the ground,” he said. “A sniper’s bullet struck my leg.”

After he fell to the ground, people crowded around him and he was carried to an ambulance.

This was not the first injury inflicted on him by an Israeli weapon.

In the 2009 war on Gaza, he was on a bus with his friends when an Israeli airstrike hit the bus. Malakha was the only survivor. It is not a day in his life that he feels comfortable talking about in detail.

“I spent one year and seven months lying in bed, unable to move my hands or neck,” he said. “I had to wear diapers because I was not able to go to the bathroom.”

Nine years later, he was again rushed to the hospital. Doctors there insisted on immediate amputation, but Malakha refused.

Over the next two years, he had dozens of surgeries to help him regain use of his leg. When he developed bone cancer in 2020, he underwent chemotherapy, but amputation of his leg was the only way to eradicate the cancer completely.

In September 2022, Malakha had his 89th surgery, by his own count. He woke up seven hours later to continue his life with one leg.

“I approached the situation with a sense of normalcy,” he said. “After the operation, I returned home, rested, woke up the next morning and went to the market.”

As compensation for his lost leg, Malakha receives about $165 each month. A compensation that barely puts food on the table for his wife and the four children.

To support his family, Malakha opened a coffee shop in Gaza’s port. But there were too many challenges to overcome and it failed.

So he became a taxi driver.

“Surrendering to people’s opinions and the harsh reality would only lead to excessive overthinking and stress,” he said. “I made a conscious decision to not give up.”

In the 2014 war, when he still had both legs, his house was damaged by a nearby strike, and his family had to evacuate.

“There is no doubt that getting out of the second floor is hard. I can focus my mind on the difficulty, but I don’t want to. It will only hurt me and destroy my children. Adapting to this reality is the only option I have.”

Khaled El-Hissy is a journalist from Jabaliya in the Gaza Strip.

Angelo Baracca ci ha lasciato

Angelo Baracca ci ha lasciato ma certo non ci lascia quello che ha rappresentato come compagno e collega per molti di noi.

E’ la prima volta che scrivo “in memoria” e lo faccio solo perché sono convinta che lui ne sorriderebbe e condividerebbe quello che vi racconto del contributo che ha dato, oltre che a tante altre iniziative di conoscenza e denuncia, alla nascita e formulazione dei compiti del gruppo di lavoro sulle nuove armi, diventato poi newweapons research group.

Con Angelo parlavamo, entrambe sostenevamo quello che si chiamava Scienziati e scienziate contro la Guerra, un gruppo di informazione anche scientifica sulle conseguenze delle guerre sulla popolazione civile, allora gruppo di ricerca osservazionale, ma non di lavoro sul campo nè di indagine analitica.

A Genova nel 2006 eravamo riuniti insieme ad Angelo con i movimenti antiglobalizzazione e per un mondo migliore a ricordare la repressione del forum sociale mondiale del 2001 e a parlare della situazione terribile in Iraq ed Afganistan.

Intanto gli attacchi Israeliani sul Libano e simultaneamente, seppure più brevi su Gaza, erano iniziati nella prima settimana di Luglio e molto presto io ero stata raggiunta dalla richiesta di medici da Tiro e Sidone in Libano e da Gaza che riportavano di ferite mai viste prima e con esiti inaspettati, ferite senza frammenti alla autopsia o nelle ferite delle vittime, e chiedevano aiuto a capire cosa le procurasse e come intervenire.

Con Angelo discussi come fosse il caso di prendere la responsabilità di passare dalla denuncia e dall’osservazione circostanziale allo studio di queste ferite per comprenderne le cause ed eventualmente, se possibile i rimedi. Discussi di fare cioè il nostro mestiere di scienziati applicandolo alle circostanze.

In quel periodo la letteratura militare lodava la sperimentazione di “armi a raggio di impatto ridotto, capaci di ridurre le vittime collaterali” negli omicidi mirati, e di armi “aumentate con polveri di metallo”, che, oltre che l’uso di proiettili ad uranio impoverito, si candidavano ai nostri occhi di scienziati come invece “armi a raggio di effetto incontrollato e i cui residui potevano permanere nel tempo e causare danni a lungo termine alla salute”, cosa che poi abbiamo dimostrato succedere a Gaza.

E ancora in quel periodo, il giornalismo investigativo, in particolare in Italia Maurizio Torrealta, parlava di un tipo di queste armi di nuova generazione chiamato DIME che sarebbe stato “aumentato” con titanio, un metallo tossico e potenzialmente carcinogeno.

I casi di vittime per cui dal Libano e da Gaza ci si chiedeva aiuto avrebbero potuto essere dovuti a queste armi, ma bisognava agli occhi di alcuni di noi, Angelo con me, passare dalle osservazioni e induzioni, all’ottenimento di prove e allo studio scientifico ed analitico delle sostanze nelle armi e documentare le implicazioni sulla salute. Bisognava dunque lavorare nei luoghi di queste guerre ed iniziare a raccogliere evidenze materiali. Il primo passo fu l’invio in Libano da parte mia di protocolli per la raccolta di materiale biologico dalle ferite. Analogamente protocolli furono inviati a Gaza. In entrambe i posti i campioni furono raccolti dai chirurghi.

Il secondo passo nel settembre 2006 fu quello di inviare un collega infermiere in una prima missione in Libano, per raccogliere le circostanze e le diagnosi e gli esiti delle ferite stesse. Che lo studio sarebbe stato difficile da portare avanti fu subito chiaro in Libano dal fatto che tutti i campioni bioptici appena finiti gli attacchi furono sequestrati ai chirurghi di medicina di emergenza che li avevano raccolti, dal governo Libanese che disse li avrebbe mandati ad analizzare, si rifiutò di interloquire con scienziati internazionali e mai riportò i risultati di alcuna analisi pubblicamente o ai medici locali. Salvo un singolo campione portato via ancora durante gli attacchi da un giornalista tedesco e poi messoci a disposizione per analisi, che furono però limitate dal trattamento precedente fatto sullo stesso campione.

Dal Libano però avemmo una ottima interlocuzione anche nella successiva mia visita a novembre con i chirurghi e la descrizione precisa sia delle circostanze dell’attacco su più decine di vittime, sia le foto delle loro ferite, sia il report delle procedure di intervento e dell’esito di questo. Queste informazioni aiutarono a formulare ancor più chiaramente che armi senza frammenti e mirate, di vario impatto con carica sub o letale erano state introdotte in quella guerra da Israele. La similitudine con le informazioni corrispondenti fornite dai medici di Gaza era molto grande, ed in questo caso i campioni biologici erano stati preservati e ci furono resi disponibili per analisi.

Lo studio analitico dei tessuti delle ferite delle vittime di Gaza ci confermò che queste contenevano varii metalli pesanti carcinogeni e capaci di produrre difetti negli embrioni e feti in quantità elevate, e danni sulla salute in generale, ma non contenevano titanio.

Mai prima informazioni dirette di questo tipo erano state ottenute e la contaminazione presente nel tessuto sede delle ferite senza frammenti era quella che si definisce “prova di fatto” che  fossero state usate armi con contenuto di metalli pesanti in forma di particelle molto piccole che possono agire come “seghe molecolari” quando sono ad alta temperatura. Questo implicava il potenziale di questo tipo di armi di diffondere metalli pesanti che non scompaiono dall’ambiente e che si accumulano negli organismi viventi e sono patogenici a lungo termine. Abbiamo verificato che subito dopo gli attacchi nel 2009 la contaminazione da metalli era infatti molto alta in più del 60 % dei circa 100 bambini testati.

Anni di lavoro di indagine sul campo a Gaza (2010-2020) hanno poi portato prove dirette che difetti congeniti e nascite pretermine, le due cause principali di mortalità alla nascita, ed entrambe di problemi più o meno gravi ai sopravvissuti, sono associate a contaminazione dei neonati e delle madri da metalli pesanti e che questa contaminazione nella fase immediatamente successiva agli attacchi militari è dovuta alla esposizione documentata obbiettivamente delle donne gravide a questi attacchi.

Nonostante questi dati siano stati oggetto di molte pubblicazioni scientifiche in giornali internazionali, non molto è stato diffuso in Italiano un po’ per la natura “tecnico-scientifica ” dei dati ma soprattutto per la nostra limitata capacità di coprire i diversi fronti dell’informazione.

Vedo Angelo sorridere per il fatto che per celebrare lui ho colto l’occasione di raccontarvi questa storia, e so che condividerebbe che lo faccio. A volte, o forse sempre, la somiglianza nelle motivazioni, la competenza generale in un campo e la complicità nella lotta sono i vademecum per l’avanzamento delle conoscenze e per la scoperta di verità difficili da digerire.

Gaza è adesso diffusamente contaminata da metalli pesanti, la popolazione ne è cronicamente affetta. Così è molto probabilmente per tutti i territori dove Israeliani e Nordamericani e loro “compratori di armi” hanno operato in tutti gli anni del secolo. Infatti, mancando indagini puntuali, ci però sono osservazioni di incremento dei danni alla nascita in tutti questi paesi. Mentre a Gaza altri potenziali agenti che possono produrre questi danni sono stati esclusi dal lavoro di ricerca, certamente in altre circostanze i danni possono avere anche altre concause, ma forse ora  è purtroppo troppo tardi per indagini scientifiche puntuali che le dimostrino o escludano.

Allora, Angelo che mi sorridi, grazie ancora per la complicità, lo scambio di idee e conoscenze e la condivisione di intenti, e che la terra ti sia lieve come tu lo sei stato con i tuoi amici.

Iniziò cosi il lavoro del gruppo di ricerca NWRG

Paola Manduca






British Warmongering Is Driving Europe Towards Catastrophe in Ukraine

From lobbying for fighter jets to supplying depleted uranium, the UK is making sure escalation is the only way forward

All Global Research articles can be read in 51 languages by activating the Translate Website button below the author’s name.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky made an unexpected trip to Britain last week on a whistle-stop tour of European capitals, pleading for more powerful and longer-range weapons to use in his war against Russia. 

What was hard to ignore once again was the extent to which the UK is playing an outsize role in Ukraine.

Last year, shortly after the start of the war, the then-prime minister, Boris Johnson, hurried to Kyiv – presumably on Washington’s instructions – apparently to warn Zelensky off fledgling peace talks with Moscow.

At around the same time, the Biden administration made clear it favoured an escalation in fighting, not an end to it, as an opportunity to “weaken” Russia, a geo-strategic rival along with China.

Since then, the UK has been at the forefront of European efforts to entrench the conflict, helping to lobby for the supply of weapons, training and military intelligence to Ukrainian forces.

British tanks and thousands of tank shells – including, controversially, some made from depleted uranium – are being shipped out. Last week, the UK added hundreds of long-range attack drones to the inventory.

And an unspecified number of £2m-a-blast Storm Shadow cruise missiles, with a range of nearly 300km, have started arriving. Last week Ben Wallace, Britain’s defence secretary, said the missiles were already in use, adding that Kyiv alone was deciding on the targets.

Storm Shadow allows the Ukrainian military to strike deep into Russian-annexed parts of Ukraine – and potentially at Russian cities too.

A recent leak revealed that the Pentagon had learnt through electronic eavesdropping of Zelensky’s eagerness for longer-range missiles so that his forces were “capable of reaching Russian troop deployments in Russia”.

Lip service

Britain now pays little more than lip service to the West’s claim that its role is only to help Ukraine defend itself from Russian aggression. The supply of increasingly offensive weapons has turned Ukraine into what amounts to a proxy battleground on which the Cold War can be revived.

During Zelensky’s visit to the UK last week, Johnson’s successor, Rishi Sunak, effectively acted as an arms broker for Ukraine, joining with the Netherlands in what was grandly dubbed an “international coalition” to pressure the Biden administration and other European states to supply Kyiv with F-16 fighter jets. 

Washington appeared not to need much cajoling. Three days later, Biden dramatically changed tack at a G7 summit in Japan. He effectively gave a green light for US allies to supply Ukraine not only with US-made F-16s but similar fourth-generation fighter jets, including Britain’s Eurofighter Typhoon and France’s Mirage 2000.

Administration officials surprised European leaders by suggesting the US would be directly involved in the training of pilots outside Ukraine.

After a highly staged “surprise” visit by Zelensky to the summit at the weekend, Biden said he had been given a “flat reassurance” that the jets would not attack Russian territory.

British officials, meanwhile, indicated that the UK would start training Ukrainian pilots within weeks.

‘Rightful place is in Nato’ 

No 10 has made clear that Sunak’s purpose is to build “a new Ukrainian air force with Nato-standard F-16 jets” and that the prime minister believes “Ukraine’s rightful place is in Nato”.

These statements seem intended once again to block any potential path towards peace. President Vladimir Putin repeatedly spoke out against Nato’s growing, covert involvement in neighbouring Ukraine before Russia launched its invasion 15 months ago.

It is hard to imagine that the UK is heading off-script. More likely, the Biden administration is using Britain to make the running and soften up Western publics as Nato becomes ever more deeply immersed in the military activities of Russia’s neighbour.

Ukraine is being gradually turned into the very Nato forward base that first set Moscow on course to invade.

At the same time, Britain appears to be exploiting the Ukraine war as a showcase for its weaponry. After the US, it has been the largest supplier of military equipment to Ukraine.

This week it was reported that UK arms exports hit a record £8.5bn, more than double last year’s total. The last time Britain was so successful at selling weapons was in 2015, at the height of the Syrian war.

Risk to health

Europe’s weapons largesse is, we are told, the precondition for Ukraine to mount a long-awaited counter-offensive to take back territory Russia has seized in the eastern and southern parts of Ukraine.

Speaking candidly in Florence this month, Josep Borrell, the European Union’s top diplomat, ruled out peace talks. Ukraine needed massive supplies of arms because otherwise “Ukraine will fall in a matter of days”, he said.

Borrell’s warning not only suggested the precariousness of Ukraine’s situation but implied that, out of desperation, its leaders might be prepared to approve ever riskier combat scenarios.

And thanks to British meddling, the heavy toll of casualties as the war rages on – among the Ukrainian population and Russian soldiers, as well as potentially inside Russia’s borders too – may be felt not just over the coming months but for decades.

In March, Declassified broke the story that some of the thousands of tank shells Britain is supplying to Kyiv are made of depleted uranium (DU), a radioactive heavy metal produced as waste from nuclear power plants.

Keir Starmer’s opposition Labour party has said it “fully supports” the UK government’s supply of these armour-piercing shells to Ukraine, despite the long-term risk they pose to those exposed to the chemically toxic contamination left behind.

DU shells fragment and burn when they hit a target. One analyst, Doug Weir, from the Conflict and Environment Observatory, told Declassified that the ammunition produces “chemically toxic and radioactive DU particulate [microscopic particles] that poses an inhalational risk to people”.

Nonetheless, British ministers insist the threat to human health is low – and worth the risk given the military gains in helping Ukraine to destroy Russian tanks.

Cancer deaths 

As Declassified has highlighted, however, a growing body of evidence following the use of such shells by the US in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s and by Britain and the US in Iraq a decade later undermines these reassurances.

Italian courts have upheld compensation claims against the country’s military in more than 300 cases where Italians who served in the police or as soldiers in Bosnia and Kosovo have died of cancer after being exposed to DU.

Many thousands more Italian former service-people are reported to have developed cancers.

In 2001 Tony Blair’s government downplayed the role of DU in Italy’s deaths to avoid upsetting the new administration of George W Bush. Both leaders would soon approve the use of DU rounds in Iraq, though the UK admitted a “moral obligation” to help clean up some of the contamination afterwards.

The West has taken little interest in researching the effects of DU weapons in Iraq, even though local civilian populations have been the most exposed to its contamination. DU shells were used extensively during both the 1991 Gulf war and more than a decade later during the US and British-led occupation of Iraq.

Iraqi government statistics suggest the rates of cancers leapt 40-fold between the period immediately before the Gulf war and 2005.

The city of Fallujah, which the US devastated after the 2003 invasion, is reported to suffer “the highest rate of genetic damage in any population ever studied”. Birth defects are said to be roughly 14 times the rate in the Hiroshima and Nagasaki regions of Japan, where the US dropped atomic bombs.

In 2018 the British government reclassified a 1981 report into the dangers of DU weapons by the Ministry of Defence’s Atomic Weapons Research Establishment it had made available three years earlier.

Meanwhile, James Heappey, the armed forces minister, has misleadingly suggested that international bodies such as the World Health Organisation and the United Nations have found no long-term health or environmental hazards associated with DU weapons.

But as Weir told Declassified in March: “None of the entities cited by the MoD has undertaken long-term environmental or health studies in conflict areas where DU weapons have been used.”

In other words, they simply don’t know – and possibly don’t care to find out.

Weir added that the WHO, UN and International Atomic Energy Agency had all called for contaminated areas to be clearly marked and access restricted, while at the same time recommending that risk awareness campaigns be targeted at nearby communities.

British officials have also recruited the Royal Society to their efforts to claim DU is safe – as the US did earlier, in the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, citing two of its reports published in 2001 and 2002.

However, the Royal Society has vocally distanced itself from such claims. A spokesperson told Declassified that, despite the British government’s assertions, DU was no longer an “active area of policy research”.

Back in 2003, the Royal Society rebuked Washington, telling the Guardian that soldiers and civilians in Iraq “were in short and long term danger. Children playing at contaminated sites were particularly at risk.”

At the same time, the chairman of the Royal Society’s working group on depleted uranium, Professor Brian Spratt, warned that corroding shells could leach DU into water supplies. He recommended removing ordinance and conducting long-term sampling of water supplies.

Voices silenced 

By lobbying for more overtly offensive weapons and introducing DU shells into the war, Britain has raised the stakes in two incendiary ways.

First, it is driving the war’s logic towards ever greater escalation, including nuclear escalation.

Russia itself possesses DU weapons but is reported to have avoided using them. Moscow has long warned that it regards use of DU in Ukraine in nuclear terms: as the equivalent of a “dirty bomb”.

In March Putin responded to the UK’s decision to supply DU tank shells by vowing to move “tactical” nuclear weapons into neighbouring Belarus. Meanwhile, his defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, said it put the world “fewer and fewer steps” away from “nuclear collision”.

But Britain is also creating a situation where a catastrophic move, or miscalculation, by either Russia or Ukraine is becoming ever more likely, as events last week highlighted only too clearly.

Russia struck a military ammunition depot in western Ukraine, creating a giant fireball. Rumours suggested the site may have included British DU shells.

Whether true or not, it is a reminder that Moscow could hit such a storage site, intentionally or accidentally, spreading contamination widely over a built-up area.

With Ukraine soon to be in possession of a full array of offensive weapons, largely courtesy of the UK – not only long-range drones, cruise missiles and tanks but fighter jets – it is not hard to imagine terrifying scenarios that could quickly bring Europe to the brink of nuclear conflict.

Moscow hits a DU ammunition depot, exposing a large civilian population to toxic contamination. Ukraine retaliates with air strikes deep inside Russia. The path to a nuclear exchange in Europe has never looked closer.

Those who warned that peace talks were urgently needed rather than an arms race in Ukraine are looking more prescient by the day. For how much longer can their voices continue to be silenced, not only by western leaders but by the western media too?

Palestinian Health Ministry Condemns Israeli Prevention of Palestinian Patients from Receiving Medical Treatment

M.S | DOP –

The Palestinian Health Ministry condemned on Wednesday, May 10, 2023, the Israeli occupation closure of the Beit Hanon (Erez) crossing for the second day in a row, preventing Palestinian patients from leaving the city to receive medical.

“The Israeli occupation continues to close the Beit Hanon crossing for the second day in a row, preventing 292 Palestinian patients, most of whom are oncology patients, and their companions from leaving for treatment in hospitals in Occupied Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the 1948-occupied Palestinian territories,” said the ministry.

It indicated that the Israeli occupation banning Palestinian patients from reaching specialized hospitals is a clear violation of International humanitarian law and the Fourth Geneva Convention.

The Israeli occupation is not satisfied with preventing the entry of medical diagnostic devices and some needed medicine to Gaza for more than 18 months but is still completing its crimes against Gaza’s Palestinian patients for the third day, it added.

The Palestinian Health Ministry called on the international community to interfere and pressure the Israeli occupation to allow Palestinian patients to leave Gaza for medical treatment to save their lives.


the undersigned, international health professionals concerned in the protection of Palestinian health rights and in the respect of human rights and the application of international laws, ask your Excellency to act immediately for relieving the plight of Gaza again sealed and without medical supplies, or permit for patients to exit for care, by requesting free and immediate passage of medical supplies, instruments and international health and healthrelated professionals into Gaza and to secure exit/return permits for patients.
We know that EU representatives in Palestine and yourself are aware of the scarcity in medical supplies and personnel, which mark the worst stage of 17 years of blockade of Gaza.
We therefore assume you can see the implications for the whole population of another military attack, where the capability to care for eventual trauma patients is simply not available, as it is no more that of maintaining routine care.
We ask you to request strongly to Israel and Egypt to keep open in all conditions the passages and grant unrestricted access, as above, for humanitarian purposes.
In doing so, you and the EU would be honoring your own statements of concern for the Palestinian population and would exercise the institutional duties of EU as signatory of the Geneva conventions.
We expect you will be so kind to give course to this request rapidly.
Best regards

All’Alto Rappresentante dell’Unione Europea per gli Affari Esteri e la Politica di Sicurezza,Josep Borrell

i sottoscritti, operatori sanitari internazionali interessati alla protezione del diritto alla salutedei palestinesi e al rispetto dei diritti umani e all’applicazione delle leggi internazionali,chiedono alla Vostra Eccellenzadi agire immediatamente per alleviare la difficile situazione di Gaza nuovamente sigillata esenza forniture mediche, per consentire ai pazienti di uscire per cure, per permettere ilpassaggio immediato di forniture mediche, strumenti e forniture sanitarie, ed il passaggio di
operatori sanitari internazionali a Gaza e per garantire i permessi di uscita/ritorno per ipazienti.Sappiamo che i rappresentanti dell’UE in Palestina, e Lei stesso, siete consapevoli dellascarsità di forniture mediche e personale, che segna la fase peggiore di 17 anni di blocco diGaza.Assumiamo quindi che Lei possa comprendere le implicazioni per l’intera popolazione di unaltro attacco militare, quando la capacità di prendersi cura di eventuali feriti semplicementenon è disponibile, così come non lo è più quella di mantenere le cure di routine.

Le chiediamo di esercitare forte pressione su Israele ed l’Egitto perchè mantengano aperti, intutte le condizioni, i passaggi e l’accesso senza restrizioni, come descritto sopra, di materialie persone, per scopi umanitari.In tal modo, Lei e l’UE onorereste le vostre stesse dichiarazioni di preoccupazione per lapopolazione palestinese ed esercitereste i doveri istituzionali dell’UE in quanto firmatariodelle convenzioni di Ginevra.

Ci aspettiamo che sarai così gentile da dare corso a questa richiesta rapidamente.
Distinti saluti

1. Alan Meyers, MD,MPH, Emeritus Professor of Pediatrics, Boston University School
of Medicine, Boston MA USA
2. Alice Rothchild MD, USA
3. Amy Alpert CCC-SLP, USA
4. Andrea Balduzzi, Dr. Biologist, retired University of Genoa, Italy
5. Angelo Stefanini, Dr., PCRF and University of Bologna (
6. Baroness Jenny Tonge, Dr. UK
7. Carla Ciccone, Gynecologist, retired, Ospedale Moscato, Avellino, Italy
8. Cathy Wield, Specialist in Emergency Medicine
9. Christophe Oberlin, Professor of Medicine, France
10. Colin Green, PhD (Med); DSc(Med); FRCVS; FRC Path; FRCS (England) Professor
of Surgery, University College London (UCL),, Founder, Director of Overseas
Development, IMET2000
11. David Ward, MB, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Consultant Psychiatrist, Senior
Lecturer- University of Queensland, Metro South Health
12. Derek Summerfield, King’s College, Univ of London
13. Dianne Lefevre, Consultant psychiatrist, London, UK
14. Jean-Jacques AMY,, Emeritus professor of obstetrics and gynaecology, Vrije
Universiteit Brussel, Belgium
15. Eric David, Professeur émérite de droit international public, l’Université libre de
Bruxelles, Past President of the Centre for International Law (ULB),, Bruxelles,
16. Eric Windgassen, MRC.Psych, Consultant Psychiatrist (retired), UK
17. Fanny Polet, Viva la Salud, Director, Belgium
18. Franco Camandona, MD, Gynecologist, Ospedale Galliera, Genoa, Italy
19. Gianni Tiognoni, MD, Fondazione Lelio e Lisle Basso, Italy
20. Herman Deley, Ghent University, Belgium
21. Jan Gerris, MD, PhD, Ghent University, Belgium
22. Jane Gilbert M.A (Psychol), M.Sc (Clin Psych), C Psychol, AFBPsS, Consultant
Clinical Psychologist, UK
23. Jon Jureidini PhD, Prof. MBBS FRANZCP, Research Leader, Critical and Ethical
Mental Health (CEMH), The University of Adelaide, Australia
24. Leon Verbruggen, MD, PhD, retired professor of rheumatology, Vrije Universiteit
Brussel, Belgium.
25. Marina Rui, PHD, University of Genoa, Italy
26. Maxine Fookson, RN, MN, Portland, Oregon
27. Nozomi Takahashi. PhD, Inflammation Research Center, VIB-Ghent University,
28. Paola Manduca, Prof. Genetics, retired University of Genoa, Italy
29. Peadar O’Grady, ,MB, MPhil, MRCPsych, Consultant Child Psychiatrist, Dublin,
30. Prem Jeyapaul, Consultant Psychiatrist, UK
31. Rachel Rubin, MD, MPH, Senior Medical Officer, Cook County Department of Public
Health, Forest Park, IL 60130, United States
32. Raija-Leena Punamäki Psychologist, Professor emerita, PhD., MEcon.Tampere
University, Finland
33. Ruchama Marton, MD, PHR, Israel
34. Sebastião Viola, MRCPsych,Consultant Psychiatrist, Cardiff, UK
35. Swee Ang, MD, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, UK
36. Tom Gibelthorpe Consultant Psychiatrist, Sheffield, UK
37. Tomasz Pierscionek, Psychiatrist, NHS, UK
38. Vincenzo Stefano Luisi, Pediatric Cardiac Surgeon, Pisa, Italy
39. Vittorio Agnoletto, MD, Università degli Studi, Milano

Ongoing Closure of Gaza Crossings Impairs Health System and Threatens Hundreds of Patients’ Lives

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns the ongoing closure of Gaza Crossings for the 2nd day consecutively, following the Israeli military offensive on Tuesday at dawn that has targeted civilian facilities, killed 16 Palestinians, including 4 children and 4 women, and injured 21 others who sustained various wounds. PCHR emphasizes that the continued closure of the crossings threatens the lives of hundreds of patients and weakens the already frail health system due to the Israeli-imposed closure on Gaza Strip for 16 years.


According to PCHR’s follows-up, the closure of Beit Hanoun “Erez” Crossing has denied hundreds of cancer patients and others with serious diseases, whose treatment is unavailable at Gaza Strip’s hospital, travel to complete their treatment at hospitals in the West Bank, including occupied Jerusalem, or in Israel, seriously endangering their lives. Yesterday, the 1st day of the closure, 142 cancer patients were unable to travel to receive and complete their treatment, including 5 serious and life-saving cases. Today, 136 patients have not been able to travel for treatment, including (3) serious cases. Additionally, the Israeli occupation authorities have refused to return the dead body of (H. N.), from northern Gaza Strip, who was receiving treatment at al-Mutala’ Hospital in occupied East Jerusalem and died today at dawn.



With the ongoing closure of Beit Hanoun “Erez” Crossing to patients with serious diseases, hundreds of patients face willful killing in light of Gaza health system’s inability to provide health services to these patients due to the lack of specialized medical staff and chronic shortage of medicines and medical supplies, particularly radiotherapy and laboratory materials necessary for conducting diagnostic tests.


Gaza hospitals suffer from acute shortage of drugs and medical supplies as the number of essential drugs at zero-stock reached 255 out of 522 types with a deficit rate of (43%), while the number of medical supplies at zero-stock reached 165 out of 853 essential types with a deficit rate of (19%). Moreover, for 18 months, the Israeli occupation authorities have banned the entry of a number of medical devices that are used in diagnosing and treating cancer patients, such as interventional radiology and ultrasound devices, in addition to some spare parts needed for the maintenance of inoperative devices.


Moreover, continuously closing “Kerem Shalom” Crossing, Gaza’s only commercial crossing, and banning the entry of medical supplies have inflicted serious repercussions on the lives of thousands of Gaza Strip patients and impeded the work of the medical personnel at the emergency departments, operating rooms, and intensive care units to provide health care for the wounded.


The ongoing closure of the crossings and ban on the entry of the necessary fuel supplies would force the Gaza’s only power plant to shut down, so civilians would face long hours of blackouts at houses and vital facilities, such as hospitals and infrastructure service facilities. It is also feared that catastrophic scenarios similar to those in the previous offensives would recur, such as cutting water supplies to citizens for long periods, and shutdown of desalination plants and wastewater treatment plant, that may lead to a serious health hazard due to sewage floods. And if exacerbated, this will lead to the outbreak of epidemics and diseases among citizens as well as the recontamination of the groundwater reservoir.


PCHR emphasizes that the closure of crossings is a form of collective punishment and is internationally prohibited and a clear violation of Article (33) of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Therefore PCHR:

  • Calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfill their obligations under the Convention; to provide protection for Palestinian civilians who are subjected to war crimes by IOF, and to practice pressure on Israel to end use of collective punishment policy against the Gaza Strip population, including the closure of crossings that seriously jeopardizes civilians’ enjoyment of their economic and social rights.
  • Urges the international community to take immediate and urgent action to pressure Israel to open all crossings, allow the travel of patients for treatment abroad, and ensure the entry of drugs and medical equipment to Gaza Strip hospitals and fuel supplies to Gaza’s only power plant.
  • Believes that the international community’s silence policy towards the crime of the Israeli closure on Gaza has contributed to the deterioration of humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, as more than half of the population (53%) live in poverty, 64.4% are food insecure, and 80% are dependent on international aid.