Comment: In light of the alleged chemical weapons attack that may or may not have taken place in Syria this week, and the casus belli the U.S. and allies believes it gives them to launch yet another round of slaughter in the Middle East, we thought we'd remind readers of a REAL chemical weapon attack launched on Palestinians (sheltering in a school the Israelis knew was part of a U.N. compound) during 'Operation Cast Lead' in Gaza, just one of many instances in which White Phosphorous was used on Gazans in early 2009.
'white phosphorus' as a chemical weapon:
White phosphorous is a colorless to yellow translucent wax-like substance with a pungent, garlic-like smell. The form used by the military is highly energetic (active) and ignites once it is exposed to oxygen. White phosphorus is a pyrophoric material (it is spontaneously flammable). When exposed to air, it spontaneously ignites and rapidly oxidizes to phosphorus pentoxide. Such heat is produced by this reaction that the element bursts into a yellow flame and produces a dense white smoke. This chemical reaction continues until either all the material is consumed or the element is deprived of oxygen. White phosphorus results in painful and deep chemical burn injuries. Rapid dermal penetration occurs once particles are embedded under the skin. Incandescent particles of white phosphorous may produce extensive burns. The particles continue to burn unless deprived of atmospheric oxygen. Weapons containing white phosphorous are particularly nasty because it continues to burn until it disappears, often burning right down to the bone.The use of this lethal substance is supposedly 'permissible' under the "laws of war", ostensibly to destroy the enemy's equipment or to limit his vision. But when a whole population is designated 'the enemy', as the Israeli regime has done with Palestinians, especially those living in the open-air prison called Gaza, the results are horrifying.
The white phosphorus flame produces a hot, dense, white smoke composed of particles of phosphorus pentoxide, which are converted by moist air into phosphoric acid. This acid, depending on concentration and duration of exposure, may produce a variety of topically irritative injuries. Exposure to heavy smoke concentrations for extended periods (particularly if near the source of emission) may cause illness or even death. Its fumes can cause severe eye irritation including blepharospasm, photophobia, and lacrimation. Irritation of the eyes and irritation of the mucous membranes are the most commonly seen injuries.
At the time, the Israeli regime denied using this lethal substance during its bombardment of besieged Gaza. Roundly condemned by international observers, it now admits 'Willie Pete' was used, but says it did not fire munitions laden with the chemical weapons "inside populated areas."
These photos tell the true story.
United Nations Relief and Works Agency school in Beit Lahiya, Gaza, Palestine