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Questions Arise Over Experimental Warfare

More evidence has emerged to charge Israel with deploying experimental and illegal weapons during the 22-day attack on Gaza last month. Although the use of white phosphorus aroused a short-lived outcry, doctors who treated the dying and continue to watch over the wounded are describing injuries and symptoms unknown to medical science.

Speaking to Al Jazeera while still in Gaza, German doctor Jan Brommundt with Medecins du Monde described “widespread but previously unseen abdominal injuries that appear minor at first but degenerate within hours causing multi-organ failure.” Such injuries are untreatable, furthering evidence that Israel’s objective in its latest military offensive was largely psychological. Another weapon aimed at destroying the spirit as well as the body is a bomb that causes cancer: doctors suspect Israel of using Dime (Dense Inert Metal Explosive) devices. When detonated, a Dime device “expels a blade of charged tungsten dust, destroying everything within five to ten meters.” NORWAC medic Mads Gilbert explained that it can be hard to tell whether a Dime has been used, as people rarely survive exposure. It will only become clear after a few months, should survivors develop lethal cancers.

The use of non-sanctioned or experimental weapons represents a long-established war tactic: the retroactive condemnation of such practices is nearly as widespread. How to prevent such weapons from being used in the first place? Click here for Big Think’s conversation with Kenneth Roth, the Executive Director of Human Rights Watch, about the possibilities of using technology to defend human rights before they are abused.


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