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2006-07-25

Lebanese President Accuses Israel of Using White Phosphorus Bombs in Lebanon

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Independent journalist Dahr Jamail, who exposed how the U.S. used white phosphorus bombs in Iraq, says Israel is using the same tactic in Lebanon. We speak to him in Beirut.

While Human Rights Watch is accusing Israel of using cluster bombs, the Lebanese president Emile Lahoud says Israel is also using white phosphorus. Lebanese doctors have reported witnessing the effects of white phosphorus on their patients. Independent journalist "":http://"www.dahrjamailiraq.com"Dahr is in Beirut and has spoken to some of those doctors. We reached him earlier today.

  • Dahr Jamail -Independent journalist. Dahr Jamail spent the last week on the Syria-Lebanon border and the last several days in Beirut.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Independent journalist Dahr Jamail is in Beirut and has spoken to some of those doctors. We reached him earlier today.

DAHR JAMAIL: Yesterday, I went to the Beirut University Hospital. It’s one of the larger hospitals in Beirut, and I was speaking with the assistant director there. His name is Bilal Masri. And he told me — first off, we were talking about the casualty situation, and then this led into the white phosphorus situation in Southern Lebanon. And first off, he said that they were receiving very many casualties there, mostly from the south, being brought into them by the Red Crescent and Lebanese Red Cross, and that 55% of all the casualties in Beirut, according to Mr. Masri, were children 15 years or younger.

He then said another startling statistic, that 30% of all the casualties are dying. And this was an extremely high casualty rate, far higher than anything they saw during the Lebanese Civil War, meaning that of every one hit, 30% of the people are dying outright. And I asked him why, and he said that it’s because the Israelis are using these bombs that can penetrate through bomb shelters, that there’s been so many refugees seeking shelter in basements or in bomb shelters, and the Israelis are bombing the bomb shelters. Warplanes are bombing the bomb shelters where refugees are hiding. And also there was such a disproportionate number of children being killed and wounded, because children, he said, were the least able to really escape when the bombings began. Children were the least able to really effectively run away and get to safety themselves.

While we were talking, he said that it was actually confirmed by the Ministry of the Interior in Lebanon that the minister himself did confirm that the Israelis have dropped white phosphorus in Southern Lebanon, and interestingly, just before I had gone to this hospital, I was at a refugee camp in a city park in downtown Beirut, and I interviewed an old man, a 76-year-old baker, who had told me that they fled Nabatiya down in Southern Lebanon, which is the city where it is suspected that this white phosphorus has been used and where it was confirmed by the Minister of the Interior, and this old man told me that they left because when the bombings there began — this was within the first few days of the attack, within the first week, that is, I’m sorry — that he left because his family was so afraid, because nearby where they lived, homes were being bombed, and inside the buildings and outside the buildings, they were glowing, as he described it. He said, "There were fires, that — of course, we know what regular fire looks like, but this was not that — that the buildings were glowing. We were all very afraid. We didn’t want to get anywhere near it. And they kept bombing, and so we decided to leave."

But without a doubt, I think the most important thing that people need to understand right now is that the Israelis are using white phosphorus in Southern Lebanon, and also it’s been unconfirmed, but the Lebanese Army is reporting that they are using — dropping cluster bombs from warplanes, as well, and other illegal munitions also. But that, as of yet, to be confirmed by an independent source.

AMY GOODMAN: Independent journalist Dahr Jamail, speaking to us from Beirut.

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