Friday, 11 May 2018

Israel’s is Using Internationally Outlawed Explosive ‘Dum Dum’ Bullets Against Civilians in Gaza

Open Letter to Boris Johnson

The Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
Dear Mr Johnson,

In a recent report in the correspondence section of the Lancet, a doctor, Khamis Elessi, from the Research & Evidence-Based Medicine Unit at Islamic University Gaza City, in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, drew attention to the extent and nature of injuries sustained by peaceful, non-violent Palestinian demonstrators in Gaza. (You can read here about Dr Elessi's 2017 MSc student award for community engagement and academic excellence.)
The demonstrators had begun a 6-week non-violent commemoration of what is known as Land Day, when in 1976 Israeli forces shot dead six Israeli Arabs protesting over the expropriation of Arab-owned land in northern Israel to build Jewish communities: some 100 others were wounded and hundreds more subsequently arrested.
Since Dr Elessi's report, more evidence has been produced as to the nature of the ordnance used by the Israeli military and the casualties resulting from it.
Médecins Sans Frontières report (April 19th) state that “Medical staff report receiving patients with devastating injuries of an unusual severity, which are extremely complex to treat. The injuries sustained by patients will leave most with serious, long-term physical disabilities. … The huge majority of patients – mainly young men, but also some women and children – have unusually severe wounds to the lower extremities. MSF medical teams note the injuries include an extreme level of destruction to bones and soft tissue, and large exit wounds that can be the size of a fist.'

The MSF teams were working alongside Palestinian colleagues in Al Shifa and Al Aqsa Hospitals.
I stress again that the demonstrators were deliberately focused on non-violent methods, were not armed and none constituted any threat to the soldiers hundreds of yards away behind their own barrier.
There is now substantial evidence that expanding bullets were used by Israeli army snipers equipped with telescopic gun sights. According to Wikipedia, “Expanding bullets, also known as dumdum bullets, are projectiles designed to expand on impact, increasing in diameter to limit penetration and/or produce a larger diameter wound for faster incapacitation.”
Wikipedia further notes that “The Hague Convention of 1899, Declaration III prohibits the use of expanding bullets in international warfare”, predating the Geneva Conventions. “… Customary international law [which along with general principles of law and treaties is considered among the primary sources of international law] now prohibits their use in any armed conflicts”.
How much less legal then may their use be deemed in confrontations between well protected army snipers and unarmed, non-violent members of a public: we don't need to be lawyers to answer.
It is now clear that these Palestinians, demonstrating peacefully as is their legal right against Israeli occupation, were targeted by snipers using rifles equipped with powerful telescopic sights such that accurate hits at 200 – 300 metres can easily be achieved, at no risk whatever to the sniper but whose consequences to the victim may, if not immediately fatal, result in a lifetime of handicap, chronic illness and chronic pain, numerous surgical operations, endless physiotherapy, not to emphasise potentially endless psychotherapy, and inability to work. And all that in a strip of land so long under siege that the polluted water is a serious health hazard, medical facilities are dangerously under-resourced, there's a near constant fear of further Israeli bombardment. If anyone wanted to add to their existing definition of heroism, they need look no further than the commitment, courage, skill and sacrifice offered by the medical teams, Palestinian and foreign.
These bullets open up on impact, inside the victim's flesh and bones, thus causing maximum damage. Videos taken by Israeli soldiers through the telescopic sights are known to be greatly celebrated within Israel and not only amongst members of the IDF, whose blatantly racist and dehumanising exultations at the carnage can be heard online.
We have heard much in the last couple of years or so about alleged cases of antisemitism. A tiny proportion of cases are genuinely so, and they have been widely publicised, but the overwhelming majority of cases have quite simply been bogus and used for nakedly opportunistic political purposes. What we've heard all too little of, if indeed anything at all, from politicians, media, and not least, spokespersons from within the Jewish community, concerns the continuous and escalating human rights violations by the Israeli authorities, all for the supposed need of security. But it isn't about security at all: security doesn't require the deliberate, premeditated firing of dumdum bullets through telescopic sights at unarmed men, women and children.
Israel has always claimed to operate “the most moral army in the world”. Morally bankrupt, is the phrase that rather comes most readily to mind.

As the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) put it, “The UK has consistently sold arms to Israel. Details of the export licences issued since 2008 can be found here. During and since the start of the military action against Gaza in July 2014, with the ensuing deaths of over 2,000 Palestinians and the destruction of homes and vital infrastructure, there have been many calls for an arms embargo.” That report is dated Sept 2015.
And still the UK sells arms to Israel. And what, apropos, does “small arms ammunition” include? (Amongst the linked items, 2nd CAAT link above.)
When is a UK government going to stop helping Israel murder Palestinians? When is it even going to begin to hold Israel to account for its crimes? And if not now, when?
Yours sincerely
Brian Robinson
Dr Brian Robinson (Retired NHS psychiatrist)

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