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Nature in War

DEPLETED URANIUM WEAPONS

A new threat to sustainable environment, the food chain and the human's own existence has been appended to Israel's daily aggression against Palestinians and humanity. This threat is Depleted Uranium.

The same venomous mode of thought that permitted monstrous radiation research to be performed on poor people, the mentally retarded, pregnant women, soldiers, and prisoners without their knowledge-has now created the new victims of depleted uranium (DU). Don't be misled by the term "depleted uranium." Like "spent fuel" from civilian reactors, depleted uranium is highly toxic and carcinogenic and has a half life of some 4.4 billion years. DU, much like natural uranium from which it hardly differs, is both radioactive and toxic. DU is a waste product of the process that produces enriched uranium for use in atomic weapons and nuclear power plants.

Because it is extremely dense-1.7 times as dense as lead--when turned into a metal DU can be used to make a shell that easily penetrates steel. Another physical property is that depleted uranium spontaneously burns on impact, creating tiny aerosolized particles less than five microns in diameter, small enough to be inhaled. At least seventy percent of the uranium in these weapons is released in this form on impact, and these tiny particles travel long distances when airborne. Medical tests prove that continuous exposure leads to cancers to memory loss chronic pain, fatigue and birth defects. (www.aicenter.org)

A 1995 report from the U.S. Army Environmental Policy Institute, entitled the "Health and Environmental Consequences of Depleted Uranium in the U.S. Army" stated, "If DU enters the body, it has the potential to generate significant medical consequences. The risks associated with DU in the body are both chemical and radiological".

When DU burns, this spews tiny particles of poisonous and radioactive uranium oxide in the air. The small particles can be ingested or inhaled by humans for miles around, and even one particle, when lodged in a vital organ, can be dangerous.

Since this latest Intifada started, Israel has imported the newest and most advanced machinery and weaponry, as reported in the Jerusalem Post, including dumdum bullets and CS gas. The International Action Center believes it also includes depleted- uranium weapons. The effect of dumdum bullets and CS gas is immediate, easily shown and obvious. Using radioactive and toxic depleted-uranium weapons is an additional crime that has an insidious long-term effect, not only on combatants and civilians in the vicinity, but also over a broad area and to the general environment.

On Dec. 14, 2000, the Palestinian Minister of Environment has delivered a press conference in which he unveiled the Israeli violations of Palestinian environment through using internationally banned weapons and burial of radioactive waste in the fertile land of Palestine. He declared that the President is extremely concerned about the issue and ordered the formulation of a national committee to follow up on this matter and take the necessary actions to nullify these aggressions and minimize their impacts.

Figure 3: Damaged Infrastructure and Missiles' Remains.

In the same concern, Mr. Assem Makhour's, member of the Israeli Kenesset, and others' importuned the Israeli Prime and Defense Minister to answer whether the army uses DU in its attacks against the Palestinians or not. He (viz. Barak) has declined to answer. However, compelling evidence point in the direction of DU use in the military operations.

Given Israel's own nuclear program and well-developed military industry, the likelihood is that Israel is a manufacturer of DU ammunition. The firm Rafael of Israel is named in numerous reports as being such a manufacturer. But even if this were not the case, Israel has been able to import DU weapons from the United States.

Knowing the prevailing mentality of the Israeli government, the general staff would want to try out their weapons under all conditions, especially in combat. Now that they are firing at homes and offices in an attempt to punish the Palestinian leadership, they would want to see if DU shells penetrate concrete as they do steel and if this makes a difference in battle.

Whether from shells or from the scrapings from tanks moving around the countryside, radioactive materials enter into the land, the water and the whole food chain, contaminating the densely populated West Bank and Gaza, where water is a scarce resource. Wanton radioactive contamination of this region is a crime against all of humanity and a threat to the entire region now and for generations to come.

MEnA urges scientists, doctors, environmentalists, and mothers of soldiers who know of the use of DU shells to come forward with definitive proof that the Israeli military has at least tested DU weapons in its attacks on Palestinian offices and homes and to end this terror against humanity contiguously. In addition, MEnA urges environmental and other international and regional organizations to open a public query in this matter against Israel.


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