Gaza’s Engineering Department has begun exploding remnant white phosphorous shells dropped on the Strip by the Israeli occupation during its assault in 2008/9. The highly incendiary explosives, controversial under international law, were used as a smokescreen, in the destruction of buildings and police stations and were also dropped indiscriminately onto densely populated civilian residential areas of Gaza City as confirmed by Amnesty-International reports. When white phosphorous explodes it burns at high temperatures until deprived of oxygen and when it lands on skin it will eat through muscle and into the bone. During the war, it caused horrific burns of varying degrees as well as suffocation and left dozens dead and wounded.
Gaza’s administration have stated that the clear up will be carried out in collaboration with the Mines Advisory Group ‘MAG’; a humanitarian organisation that operates in conflict zones to reduce the threat of death and injury from remnants of the conflict. British, International and United Nations groups for mine clearance will also take part in the clear up which will be focused mainly in the southern Gaza Strip.
MEMO Photographer: Mohammed Asad