Phosphorus weapons in Gaza?

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Phosphorus weapons in Gaza?

Postby gmalivuk » Sat Jan 24, 2009 7:21 pm UTC

Because it doesn't seem to have elicited any response when Dream brought it up in the other thread, and because I just read another (BBC) article about it today, I figured maybe a separate thread was warranted.

The linked article wrote:Controversial as it is, white phosphorus is not illegal, at least in an open battlefield setting, where it is used to mask troop movements, or set on fire areas of high brush that need clearing.

But the international convention on the use of incendiary weapons says it should not be used where there is a possibility of hitting civilians.

The compound sticks to human skin and will burn right through to the bone, causing death or leaving survivors with painful wounds which are slow to heal.

United Nations officials say it was used in the shelling of a school in which hundreds of civilians were taking refuge from the fighting, and fired at the UN's main headquarters in Gaza.

Eyewitnesses and victims talk of it being used on many other occasions in built-up areas.


Edit: turns out there were a couple more posts in the other Gaza thread, but they spelled it phosphorous instead of phosphorus. Still, perhaps it's worth a separate thread for discussion of this particular allegation?
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Re: Phosphorus weapons in Gaza?

Postby The Great Hippo » Sat Jan 24, 2009 7:31 pm UTC

My bad on the misspelling.

Two things on the subject:
The Article wrote:After initially denying that white phosphorus shells were fired in Gaza, some Israeli military officials have now acknowledged its use.
There are a lot of things that bother me about this situation, but one thing in particular is this. Since it's becoming more apparent that the use of phosphorus shells is indisputable, we're left with two possible conclusions: Either Israel lied, or the responsible segments of government don't have enough control over IDF to prevent the misuse of these weapons.

My other issue:
The Article wrote:"But as grave as the injuries caused by white phosphorus are, there are a number of weapons that were used in Gaza that killed and injured an awful lot more people," he adds.
I agree with this sentiment and I'm a little worried that the phosphorus issue--as bad as it is--might be a bit of a distraction. If it's found that the only irresponsible thing Israel is guilty of in this situation is the misuse of a certain sort of artillery round, I'll be pretty disappointed.


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Re: Phosphorus weapons in Gaza?

Postby Darkscull » Sat Jan 24, 2009 9:08 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:My other issue:
The Article wrote:"But as grave as the injuries caused by white phosphorus are, there are a number of weapons that were used in Gaza that killed and injured an awful lot more people," he adds.
I agree with this sentiment and I'm a little worried that the phosphorus issue--as bad as it is--might be a bit of a distraction. If it's found that the only irresponsible thing Israel is guilty of in this situation is the misuse of a certain sort of artillery round, I'll be pretty disappointed.


I think it's more this:
Israel has said that it's sole purpose in gaza was to eradicate the militants firing rockets, and that any other damage/death is collateral from that or due to resistance coming from those places/people.

Many people believe that this is not the case, and that in fact the aim was to break hamas both directly (through killing them all) and indirectly (by destroying infrastructure and causing as much damage as possible to turn the population against hamas*), and that they don't care about the lives of civilians.
There are also people who hold the opinion that the IDF was 'let off the leash', as it were, and that many actions on the ground served no purpose other than the whims of an invading force hostile to the population.

Potential evidence to support those beliefs/opinion would be things like: attacks on harmless and non-strategic targets (like, say, schools, and buildings owned by the UN who are seen to support the palestinians), the use of weapons that cause more pain and terror than traditional munitions, stuff like that.

Israel can defend against all allegations of collateral damage if they can persuade people militants were nearby, especially if the method fits with standard practice for flushing out combatants.
They can't justify attacks with things like phosphorus and against places full of civilians and no militants, so they tried to deny the phosphorus, and claim everywhere one of their shells landed was a source of fire against their forces.

This is an important issue, and one step on the road to getting Israeli government and army officials held accountable for what they've done.

phew. long post, and probably mostly pointless, but oh well.


*which is stupid if you ask me, it'll just cement the support.
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Re: Phosphorus weapons in Gaza?

Postby dic_penderyn » Sat Jan 24, 2009 9:22 pm UTC

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail.aspx?id=83 ... =351020202

Israel spokesman admits the use, but says that any civilian casualties caused by WP, could be the work of HAMAS. :roll:

"When you walk into a totalitarian government where people have injuries, how do you know that some of these injuries weren't caused - for example - by Hamas munitions?," Regev told Britain's Channel Four.


A ridiculous statement to make in my opinion, but he does admit in the article that WP was used by the IDF.

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Re: Phosphorus weapons in Gaza?

Postby Coffee Sex Pancake » Sat Jan 24, 2009 9:52 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:Because it doesn't seem to have elicited any response when Dream brought it up in the other thread, and because I just read another (BBC) article about it today, I figured maybe a separate thread was warranted.

...

Edit: turns out there were a couple more posts in the other Gaza thread, but they spelled it phosphorous instead of phosphorus. Still, perhaps it's worth a separate thread for discussion of this particular allegation?


I want to make certain I understand this properly. You thought there was insufficient criticism of Israel going on, so you started a new thread for the explicit purpose of encouraging same?
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Re: Phosphorus weapons in Gaza?

Postby Darkscull » Sat Jan 24, 2009 9:59 pm UTC

Coffee Sex Pancake wrote:
gmalivuk wrote:Because it doesn't seem to have elicited any response when Dream brought it up in the other thread, and because I just read another (BBC) article about it today, I figured maybe a separate thread was warranted.

...

Edit: turns out there were a couple more posts in the other Gaza thread, but they spelled it phosphorous instead of phosphorus. Still, perhaps it's worth a separate thread for discussion of this particular allegation?


I want to make certain I understand this properly. You thought there was insufficient criticism of Israel going on, so you started a new thread for the explicit purpose of encouraging same?


discussion of the possible misuse of munitions that if on purpose would constitute a breaking of international law (albeit something that Israel hasn't signed) does not equal criticism of the alleged perpetrators.

what if Israel has acted perfectly legally and nicely and this is all a misunderstanding?
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Re: Phosphorus weapons in Gaza?

Postby Coffee Sex Pancake » Sat Jan 24, 2009 10:07 pm UTC

Darkscull wrote:
Coffee Sex Pancake wrote:
gmalivuk wrote:Because it doesn't seem to have elicited any response when Dream brought it up in the other thread, and because I just read another (BBC) article about it today, I figured maybe a separate thread was warranted.

...

Edit: turns out there were a couple more posts in the other Gaza thread, but they spelled it phosphorous instead of phosphorus. Still, perhaps it's worth a separate thread for discussion of this particular allegation?


I want to make certain I understand this properly. You thought there was insufficient criticism of Israel going on, so you started a new thread for the explicit purpose of encouraging same?


discussion of the possible misuse of munitions that if on purpose would constitute a breaking of international law (albeit something that Israel hasn't signed) does not equal criticism of the alleged perpetrators.

what if Israel has acted perfectly legally and nicely and this is all a misunderstanding?


If we reach that consensus, then I will bake you a delicious chocolate cake. And if you think that there is, was, or ever will be the slightest chance that your last statement is true, feel free to buy me a shiny Aston Martin.
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Re: Phosphorus weapons in Gaza?

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Sat Jan 24, 2009 10:13 pm UTC

So you think there isn't even a slight chance that Israel was not using phosphorus, but don't want gmalivuk to direct more criticism at them?
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Re: Phosphorus weapons in Gaza?

Postby Coffee Sex Pancake » Sat Jan 24, 2009 10:17 pm UTC

I don't know why one would set up a lumberyard next to a burning building, unless they just like to look at the flames.
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Re: Phosphorus weapons in Gaza?

Postby Darkscull » Sat Jan 24, 2009 10:21 pm UTC

Coffee Sex Pancake wrote:I don't know why one would set up a lumberyard next to a burning building, unless they just like to look at the flames.


The closest this thread has got to flaming/trolling is you :razz:

I admit it's early days though.

how about you bake me a cake if this thread doesn't descend to the fiery depths?


for the record, I think there is no chance whatsoever that Israel is innocent in this.
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Re: Phosphorus weapons in Gaza?

Postby Kizor » Sun Jan 25, 2009 12:18 am UTC

Come on, folks. This is a rather large issue that catches the specific interest of many, our comprehension of it can clearly benefit from what meaningful discussion we can muster before the flame war starts, and it was not receiving that discussion in the main thread. Starting a dedicated one is a good decision.

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Coffee Sex Pancake, now that the motivations behind this thread have been throroughly examined, could you drop that matter? It's distracting the rest of us and getting to be indistinguishable from trolling. Everyone else, if he continues to go on about it, could you do everyone a favor and ignore him? If he doesn't, nevermind.

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Re: Phosphorus weapons in Gaza?

Postby Dream » Sun Jan 25, 2009 1:07 am UTC

In the interests of back on topicness, here is an article that rounds up the allegations of WP and beyond fairly well. It is a bit of a Sunday paper job, without too much source citing, but the rest of the articles in the world media are a google away once you've read what people are alleging.

Since there is well documented medical evidence of the WP burns on civilians in built up areas, there seems to be no wriggle room for the IDF here. The weapon can only be used for smoke screening, as an incendiary against military materiel on open ground, and as a marker/light. The misfires that the IDF would have to make before they could have attempted one of these but ended up burning down a UN food store would be spectacular. And unbelievable.

But I agree that there are many other abuses and offences that need to be investigated besides phosphours use. At the moment, and thanks to the IDF's media exclusion these have the best chance of being prosecuted.
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Re: Phosphorus weapons in Gaza?

Postby Jahoclave » Sun Jan 25, 2009 2:56 am UTC

Oh fuck.

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And the neocons round yonder wonder why I absolutely abhor war and favor actually addressing the underlying reasons why people become terrorists in the first place.

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Re: Phosphorus weapons in Gaza?

Postby aleflamedyud » Sun Jan 25, 2009 7:27 am UTC

Coffee Sex Pancake wrote:
gmalivuk wrote:Because it doesn't seem to have elicited any response when Dream brought it up in the other thread, and because I just read another (BBC) article about it today, I figured maybe a separate thread was warranted.

...

Edit: turns out there were a couple more posts in the other Gaza thread, but they spelled it phosphorous instead of phosphorus. Still, perhaps it's worth a separate thread for discussion of this particular allegation?


I want to make certain I understand this properly. You thought there was insufficient criticism of Israel going on, so you started a new thread for the explicit purpose of encouraging same?

Yeah, he did, and if they used phosphorus shells they fucking deserve criticism for it. THAT. SHIT. IS. WRONG.
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Re: Phosphorus weapons in Gaza?

Postby BirdKiller » Mon Jan 26, 2009 10:14 am UTC

Wait, so what's so bad about using Phosphorous as a weapon compared to guns and bullets?

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Re: Phosphorus weapons in Gaza?

Postby Dream » Mon Jan 26, 2009 10:39 am UTC

The same thing that's worse between shooting a person and burning the living flesh off their bones over hour after agonising hour. FUCKING LOTS.
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Re: Phosphorus weapons in Gaza?

Postby Pez Dispens3r » Mon Jan 26, 2009 12:12 pm UTC

Dream wrote:The same thing that's worse between shooting a person and burning the living flesh off their bones over hour after agonising hour. FUCKING LOTS.


Well, yes, but if someone put a bullet in your ankle the pain level would be similar.

I think it's considered to be bad because it has parallels to napalm use, and because it tends to burn people indiscriminately, whereas you usually have someone in your sights when you send them a bullet.
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Re: Phosphorus weapons in Gaza?

Postby Darkscull » Mon Jan 26, 2009 12:47 pm UTC

Pez Dispens3r wrote:
Dream wrote:The same thing that's worse between shooting a person and burning the living flesh off their bones over hour after agonising hour. FUCKING LOTS.


Well, yes, but if someone put a bullet in your ankle the pain level would be similar.


Not really.

phosphorus on skin may give the same level of pain as bullet in flesh, but there is so much more of it, and although the most painful bit of being shot is the bullet going in, the phosphorus keeps burning.

The very principle of phosphorus burns is much much worse than bullet wounds.
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Re: Phosphorus weapons in Gaza?

Postby Dream » Mon Jan 26, 2009 12:56 pm UTC

Darkscull wrote:The very principle of phosphorus burns is much much worse than bullet wounds.
Pez Dispens3r wrote:I think it's considered to be bad because it has parallels to napalm use, and because it tends to burn people indiscriminately,


It is both. Any weapon can be used indiscriminately, so discrimination can't be the deciding factor. Any weapon can be used to inflict horrific wounds, so that can't either. Both together, and innate in the method by which the weapon works, that equals a war crime. And white phosphors has both, innately.
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Re: Phosphorus weapons in Gaza?

Postby yoni45 » Mon Jan 26, 2009 8:55 pm UTC

dic_penderyn wrote:http://www.presstv.ir/Detail.aspx?id=83598&sectionid=351020202

Israel spokesman admits the use, but says that any civilian casualties caused by WP, could be the work of HAMAS. :roll:

"When you walk into a totalitarian government where people have injuries, how do you know that some of these injuries weren't caused - for example - by Hamas munitions?," Regev told Britain's Channel Four.


A ridiculous statement to make in my opinion, but he does admit in the article that WP was used by the IDF.


PressTV? You may as well be quoting Baghdad Bob. In fact, this article probably highlights that point even more - the quote doesn't seem to have anything to do with phosphorus.
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Re: Phosphorus weapons in Gaza?

Postby yoni45 » Mon Jan 26, 2009 8:58 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:...Since it's becoming more apparent that the use of phosphorus shells is indisputable, we're left with two possible conclusions: Either Israel lied, or the responsible segments of government don't have enough control over IDF to prevent the misuse of these weapons.


Or that the relevant parties don't have all the information necessary to make a completely accurate statement at a given point in time?
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Re: Phosphorus weapons in Gaza?

Postby JoshuaZ » Mon Jan 26, 2009 9:53 pm UTC

At this point Israel claims that the WP was used to provide smoke cover and lighting which is legal and is used by multiple different countries. Israel does have WP weapons for smoke cover including M825 shells as described at http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ ... /smoke.htm so we should reserve judgment until the type and purpose of the weapons used are determined. If anyone did use WP as an offensive weapon that's obviously a serious problem that will need to be examined in detail. But at this point it isn't at all clear that that's the case.

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Re: Phosphorus weapons in Gaza?

Postby ZeroSum » Mon Jan 26, 2009 10:20 pm UTC

In addition to using WP for smoke screens or setting fires it's also used for tracer rounds. It's possible that the primary usage of WP in Israel's latest expedition to Gaza was in tracer rounds and that whoever spoke of Israel not using WP weapons was unaware that tracers are WP based. (Assuming that the spokesperson was a PR/government person, not a career military man.)

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Re: Phosphorus weapons in Gaza?

Postby Darkscull » Mon Jan 26, 2009 10:59 pm UTC

JoshuaZ wrote:At this point Israel claims that the WP was used to provide smoke cover and lighting which is legal and is used by multiple different countries. Israel does have WP weapons for smoke cover including M825 shells as described at http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ ... /smoke.htm so we should reserve judgment until the type and purpose of the weapons used are determined. If anyone did use WP as an offensive weapon that's obviously a serious problem that will need to be examined in detail. But at this point it isn't at all clear that that's the case.


Are you saying that there is still a question over whether WP was used in built-up areas, or that there's a question over whether that still counts as legal smoke screen use?
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Re: Phosphorus weapons in Gaza?

Postby Lumpy » Tue Jan 27, 2009 3:43 pm UTC

http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meast ... pstoryview

Last Sunday Israel's government approved a measure that would give legal protection to its military officers if they are accused of war crimes during the Gaza incursion.

"The state of Israel will completely back anyone that acted in its name," Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said. "The soldiers and commanders that were sent on missions in Gaza need to know that they are safe from different tribunals.


Hey, I remember that quote. It was by an American defense secretary from when we invaded Iraq and were accused of the same thing. Palestinians broke the ceasefire, it seems, but that's for another thread.

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Re: Phosphorus weapons in Gaza?

Postby Montrose » Tue Jan 27, 2009 5:25 pm UTC

BirdKiller wrote:Wait, so what's so bad about using Phosphorous as a weapon compared to guns and bullets?


The problem with this argument is that it provides a lot of wiggle room. What's the difference between shooting people and using nerve gas? What's the difference between shooting people and using Anthrax? Or the difference between high yield conventional weapons and tactical nuclear weapons?

Well, on some levels, not too much. However, in order to keep things sane, the reasonable governments of the world have decided to draw a line about what is proper and what is not. Because people like to keep war from getting too horrific, it is worrying when a government breaks these rules.

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Re: Phosphorus weapons in Gaza?

Postby aleflamedyud » Thu Jan 29, 2009 6:01 am UTC

Lumpy wrote:http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meast/01/27/gaza.ceasefire.breach/?iref=mpstoryview

Last Sunday Israel's government approved a measure that would give legal protection to its military officers if they are accused of war crimes during the Gaza incursion.

"The state of Israel will completely back anyone that acted in its name," Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said. "The soldiers and commanders that were sent on missions in Gaza need to know that they are safe from different tribunals.


Hey, I remember that quote. It was by an American defense secretary from when we invaded Iraq and were accused of the same thing. Palestinians broke the ceasefire, it seems, but that's for another thread.

Yeah, of course the Israelis want to protect their own citizens from war-crimes prosecutions. White phosphorous aside (which definitely requires actual prosecution), fighting a damned war is considered a war crime nowadays if your name is Israel. The Israeli government doesn't want some dude who shot at a Hamas militant and hit a human shield hauled up before the Hague for the crime of Fighting While Israeli.
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Re: Phosphorus weapons in Gaza?

Postby Jahoclave » Thu Jan 29, 2009 6:04 am UTC

aleflamedyud wrote:
Lumpy wrote:http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meast/01/27/gaza.ceasefire.breach/?iref=mpstoryview

Last Sunday Israel's government approved a measure that would give legal protection to its military officers if they are accused of war crimes during the Gaza incursion.

"The state of Israel will completely back anyone that acted in its name," Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said. "The soldiers and commanders that were sent on missions in Gaza need to know that they are safe from different tribunals.


Hey, I remember that quote. It was by an American defense secretary from when we invaded Iraq and were accused of the same thing. Palestinians broke the ceasefire, it seems, but that's for another thread.

Yeah, of course the Israelis want to protect their own citizens from war-crimes prosecutions. White phosphorous aside (which definitely requires actual prosecution), fighting a damned war is considered a war crime nowadays if you're name is Israel. The Israeli government doesn't want some dude who shot at a Hamas militant and hit a human shield hauled up before the Hague for the crime of Fighting While Israeli.

So let this be a lesson to Israel's marketing department. Name change! It's time to rebrand. Time to go with something with a bit more jazz to it.


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