More risks for civilians as operation Pillar of Defence expands

The Israeli military operations in Gaza don't have only the immediate effect, but also a long-term one: the use of weapons containing phosphorus and uranium, as well as other toxic metals, leave contaminating elements in the ground for many years. Since 2006 and, even more, after the operation Cast Lead, these contaminants have triggered an increase in birth defects and late miscarriages. Now, while the experts are studying these phenomena in order to estimate the extent of the problem, the new Israeli military aggression adds a new drama to the existing one, and is expected to accelerate and worsen the phenomenon.

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A study published by the group in May showed a "strong correlation between congenital malformations and the parents' exposure to white phosphorus". According to the analysis, 27% of parents of children with major structural congenital defects had been exposed to the attacks, compared to 1.7% of parents of healthy children. The research, which lasted five months, was based on clinical data, reproductive, demographic, environmental and family history of more than four thousand newborns in the major maternity ward in the Gaza strip, Al Shifa Hospital. In March 2010, the same group published another report, showing that one year after the operation Cast Lead there were traces of toxic metals in the hair of children living in Gaza. The same metals were found in areas surrounding the craters left by bombs launched in the area in 2006 and in 2009.

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"The new military operation – says Manduca – worsens the situation with unpredictable consequences on the long-term reproductive and general health of children. If Israel really intends to minimize civilian casualties, it must not use such weapons". "Otherwise, the Pillar of Defence has to be considered an aggression on a large scale, directed primarly against the civilian population, above all the children of today and of tomorrow, which reminds us the darkest days in the history of the twentieth century, days – says the expert – that Israel first of all should not want to remember”.

Press release (English)84.5 KB
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