I'm guessing some Blogging Tories might be a bit sheepish over this if they had any sense of guilt or accountability whatsoever:
Israel admits using white phosphorous in attacks on Gaza
After weeks of denying that it used white phosphorus in the heavily populated Gaza Strip, Israel finally admitted yesterday that the weapon was deployed in its offensive.
The army’s use of white phosphorus – which makes a distinctive shellburst of dozens of smoke trails – was reported first by The Times on January 5, when it was strenuously denied by the army. Now, in the face of mounting evidence and international outcry, Israel has been forced to backtrack on that initial denial.
But wait! There's more! Because, you see, a number of people never actually denied that Israel was using phosphorus, they were denying only that it was being used illegally because, as it turns out, there are circumstances where its use is acceptable, and the aforementioned were, like, totally hanging their argument on those exceptions:
"[U]se of white phosphorus is not specifically banned by any treaty, however protocol III of the 1980 Geneva convention prohibits the use of incendiary weapons against civilian populations or by air attack against military forces that are located within concentrations of civilians. The United States is among the nations that have not signed this protocol."
Any other exceptional conditions? Oh, look:
White phosphorus was first used as a weapon by Fenian terrorists in the 19th century. Although it can be used as an incendiary, these days WP is more commonly used to produce smokescreens as it produces very thick white smoke. (A notable exception was in the 2004 action in Fallujah, where U.S. artillery carried out "shake and bake" fire missions using a mixture of WP and high explosive shells to drive insurgents out of cover and kill them.)
In Gaza, even the Red Cross accepts that the intention is probably to use WP to create smoke rather than to deliberately injure; the Associated Press quotes the ICRC's Peter Herby as saying: "It's not very unusual to use phosphorus to create smoke or illuminate a target. We have no evidence to suggest it's being used in any other way."
So, to sum up, the use of white phosphorus would seem to be acceptable for a) laying down a smokescreen, perhaps to protect one's troops, or b) illumination (suggesting that it would have to be dark for this rationale to hold), all the while it still being unacceptable to use where there is a high concentration of civilians. Are you with me so far? Does all that sound reasonable?
Heck, even the Israeli military leans hard on the defense of "acceptable" usage:
A senior army official also admitted that shells containing phosphorus had been used in Gaza but said that they were used to provide a smokescreen.
and from that earlier Wired article:
On Tuesday, the Israeli military spokesman said that it "wishes to reiterate that it uses weapons in compliance with international law, while strictly observing that they be used in accordance with the type of combat and its characteristics."
So, with all that weaseling and tap-dancing and rationalization under our belts, let's take a closer look at the photo accompanying that article above:
Now let's be clear where I'm going with this. As Canada's Israel fetishists were defending the use of white phosphorus, their only possible explanation was that it was being used in an acceptable and legal way. That was a non-negotiable part of their argument -- there was no getting around that.
And yet, let us look closely at the photo above, where we notice:
- There do not appear to be any Israeli troops for which a smokescreen would be necessary,
- It's not night time, so there doesn't appear to be any overwhelming need for illumniation, and
- This is clearly an area full of civilians, being a U.N. school (you can even see the basketball hoop in the background).
Which leads us to ask the aforementioned Israel fetishists -- where's your argument now? We've heard your defense of white phosphorus and, by your own rules of logic, your rationale has crumbled entirely.
Would it now be unreasonable to ask for a correction or retraction on your parts? No, seriously, are any of you going to swallow hard and 'fess up that you pooched it on this issue?
I'll be right here. Stop by with a mea culpa or two. After all, confession is good for the soul. I heard that somewhere.
P.S. Oh, and the fact that Israel initially denied using WP at all is kind of precious, too.
P.P.S. These are the days I really, really miss that Blogging Tories search box. I would be having such fun with it. If you catch my drift.
AFTERSNARK: One of my favourite jokes that exposes the total weaselitude of, well, weasels:
Your Honour, my client couldn't have committed the murder since he wasn't even there. But even if he was, he didn't do it. But if he did it, it was an accident. Besides, that son of a bitch had it coming to him.
A little tweaking and ...
Israel never, ever, ever used white phosphorus munitions. But if it did, it was only in a legal and acceptable way. And if it wasn't, well, those Palestinians totally had it coming.
I'm sure you see my point.
IT'S MEA CULPA TIME, BABY! Whenever you're ready, kids. And feel free to leave links in the comments identifying other residents of Wankassville who owe us an apology. Like we're ever going to get one.