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Israel “used toxic substances against civilians in Silwan”

A Palestinian man searches through the rubble of his home in Silwan, East Jerusalem, after Israeli forces demolished it, on 26 August, 2013 [Saeed Qaq/Apaimages]
A Palestinian man searches through the rubble of his home in Silwan, East Jerusalem, after Israeli forces demolished it, on 26 August, 2013 [Saeed Qaq/Apaimages]

Demands have been made for an international committee to investigate the type of bombs used by Israeli security forces against civilian demonstrators in Jerusalem last week. The calls were made at a conference convened jointly on 29th September by the Committee for the Defence of Silwan and the Jerusalem Information Centre.

Conference participants heard that Israeli forces had used gas and sound bombs which had various detrimental effects on the health of those present, including shortness of breath and high temperatures; concerns were also expressed about the effects such munitions may have on the environment.

Sheikh Ikrima Sabri, President of the Supreme Islamic Council in the Holy City, said that there was no difference between the herds of settlers and the Israeli army as they all work with a single strategy intended to Judaise the city and control its holy sites. The actions of the army contravened international laws and norms which forbid the use of gas and toxic weapons, said Sheikh Sabri. He stressed the need for unity and steadfastness in the face of the Zionist attacks.

According to Fakhri Abu Diab, a member of the Silwan defence committee, doctors were monitoring the health of those who were exposed to the toxic substances in the Israeli bombs and then displayed symptoms such as exhaustion and high temperatures. When some were taken to hospital, they were found to have been poisoned. He said that some of the bomb casings had been taken for analysis; the results showed that their “use by” date had expired six months to a year prior to their use against the demonstrators in Silwan. Doctors confirmed that gasses used in the bombs oxidise and cause significant damage to both human beings and the environment.

Jawad Siyam, director of the Wadi Hilwa Information Centre, told the conference of an increase in the number of rampaging settlers and their guards in Silwan who use their weapons indiscriminately against the local population. Speaking about the murder of Samer Sarhan, Mr. Siyam rejected the Zionist version of events which was based on the testimony of the murderer, who was released a few hours after being taken in for questioning. He confirmed his belief that Mr. Sarhan was killed in cold blood as shown in footage broadcast on Channel Two.

The calls for an international commission of inquiry into the type of weapons used in Jerusalem by the Israelis were led by the Director of the Jerusalem Information Centre, Muhammad Sadiq. He said that the Holy City had become an open laboratory for Israel to test its weapons on an unarmed population.

The Vice-Chairman of the Union of Arab Workers drew attention to a decision of by the Central Court in Tel-Aviv in 2005, in which it was confirmed that tear gas is a very toxic substance when being used against individuals with the aim of causing them deliberate harm. Rajeh Hourin said that in 2006 an Israeli High Court ruling concurred with the view that tear gas is a toxic chemical.

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