CNN reporter Ben Wedeman crossed into Gaza from Egypt.
Defiance amid destruction
RAFAH, Gaza (CNN) — Bloodshed, fear, privation and anger were all clearly visible in Gaza as we finally managed to enter the territory. Unsurprisingly, there were also displays of fist-shaking defiance, but what I had not expected was the high morale.
The BBC’s Christian Fraser is also in Rafah
…on Friday we finally made it into Gaza to see first-hand the destruction.
Rafah has been pounded throughout this conflict, the Israelis dismantling the network of smuggling tunnels that run beneath the border.
But there is plenty more that has been destroyed, too. [BBC]
Meanwhile, the Israelis took a small group of journalists into Gaza and, guess what, they saw nothing.
JERUSALEM: The Israeli military took about a dozen foreign reporters on a rare foray into the Gaza Strip yesterday, a day when a bombardment killed the Hamas security chief and an Israeli shell landed on the UN base there.
But the journalists saw none of the action. Their 30-minute drive from an army base near the border took them to an unpopulated area where a commander arrived in a tank, gave a statement and answered a few questions. They saw no troops, no combat. [17 January, AP / The Australian]
The use of white phosphorus as a weapon – as opposed to its use as an obscurant and infrared blocking smoke screen – is banned by the UN’s third convention on conventional weapons, which covers the use of incendiary devices. Though Israel is not a signatory to the convention, its military manuals reflect the convention’s restrictions on using white phosphorus.
Israel initially claimed that it was not using white phosphorus. It later explained that shells being loaded for a howitzer, identified from photographs as phosphorus rounds, were empty “quiet” shells used for target marking. However, images of exploding shells and showering burning fragments are now acknowledged by independent observers as having been phosphorus.
At the centre of the controversy is the way white phosphorus air burst shells have been used in heavily built-up urban areas, with an overwhelmingly civilian population.
The M825A1 rounds, which are the kind identified as being fired by Israeli forces, are made primarily for use as a smokescreen in a way that limits their effect as an incendiary weapon, experts say.