Israel War Deforms Gaza Newborns

by Ola Attallah
Published: Oct. 11, 2009 –

GAZA — Um Abdullah dreamed for months of the day she holds her baby close to her heart and feel the joyful beats of his/her heart.

But when the baby finally came to life, the young Gazan mother’s heart was shattered to pieces by what the doctors said.

“They told me my child’s heart is not ok,” Um Abdullah told from her bed in Gaza City’s Shefa Hospital.

“They said it was not properly developed.”

The young woman was pregnant when Israel unleashed its brutal war on the Gaza Strip in December.

She lived in Gabal Al-Rayyes, one of the areas which saw many of Israel’s massive air strikes.

More than 1,400 people, including 437 children and hundreds of other civilians, were killed and 5,450 wounded in three weeks of air, sea and land attacks.

A comparison of the months July, August and September in 2009 to the same period of the last year has found that the amount of babies born with birth defects has risen by 50 percent, according to a report compiled by Shefq Hospital.

“Many are born with heart and lungs defects,” said Dr. Muweiyah Hasanein, director of the Health Ministry’s ambulance and emergency services.

“But we have also found cases involving other kinds of birth defects, among them missing limbs.”

He said the cases were all to those who lived in regions hard hit by the Israeli war machine.

Poisonous Weapons

Doctors say the deformed newborns are the victims of Israel’s illegal weapons that poisoned their bodies while they were just fetuses.

“Tests made by embryology experts have confirmed that the babies were disfigured due to Israel’s use of internationally prohibited weapons during the war,” said Hasenein.

“None of the cases were due to genetic factors.”

Researchers and specialists found evidence that Israel’s use of white phosphorous in shelling the densely-populated strip caused biological defects in some of the fetuses.

White phosphorous, a chemical that burns away human flesh to the bone, has been found in many civilian areas in Gaza showered by Israel munitions.

Israel has admitted using white phosphorus, arguing it was only used to light he skies and not attack targets.

The use of white phosphorus as a weapon, even against military targets situated within population centers, is banned by the 1980 third Convention on Conventional Weapons.

In other cases, Dr. Hasenein noted, the tests showed evidence of the Dense Inert Metal Explosive (DIME) weapon.

DIME, an experimental type of explosive that has blast radius, is designed to minimize damage to property near the attack, by confining its increased lethal effects to people in its immediate vicinity.

Extremely small particles shoot from the explosion, creating micro-shrapnel that can slice up tissue and bones.

The metal used in the bomb can also cause cancer later on to survivors.

“We are still detecting more cases every day,” says Dr. Hasenein.

“The war’s ugly legacy is leaving its scars on the bodies of people in Gaza.”




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