Amira Hass / Gazans set up make shift exhibit of Israeli weapons used in Cast Lead
Gaza police station used to display weapons human rights groups say they've never seen in Gaza.
Of all the Israeli weaponry displayed outside the Gaza police station, the Palestinian guards and policemen took greatest interest in the white wings they had never seen before.
"This is new to us. All the rest we are familiar with from Israeli attacks over the last eight years," members of Human Rights Watch were told last week, as they examined the unexploded ordinance, landmines, and other forms of ammunition that survive on the sandy soil of the parking lot in the center of Gaza.
The parking lot where the ordinance is displayed abuts the main police station in Gaza, the same one the Israel Air Force attacked on the 27th of December, in a strike that killed dozens of young police cadets who had just finished taking part in a graduation ceremony.
Even today, under the rule of Hamas and weeks after the IAF attack, the entrance to the compound still displays its official name: Arafat City.
The white wings it turns out come from a type of rocket developed by Israeli arms manufacturer "Rafael" to detonate minefields. The "carpet" rocket system is affixed to armored platforms, which fire the rockets at mine fields. The rocket creates a cloud of vapor above the target and the explosions within the cloud create shockwaves that cause the landmines below to detonate.
The phosphorous bombs fired by the IDF were also new to the residents of Gaza. Nonetheless, every child in the Gaza Strip knows that the greenish containers and their fragments contain the white phosphorous that explodes over their heads like some sort of fireworks, causing thick smoke and setting fire to buildings, cars, and trees.
These are the explosives that Palestinian and foreign doctors suspect are to blame for serious burns and some cases of death.
Only at the end of Operation Cast Lead did the IDF admit to using white phosphorous.
Ton, half ton
The guards and policemen ? and a number of journalists, were interested in learning the difference between the large and small green containers exhibited outside the police station.
Human Rights Watch security expert Mark Garlasco said the 155 mm. rounds exhibited outside the police station were fired by artillery, and the 120 mm. rounds were fired by infantrymen.
Unexploded one-ton bombs, half-ton bombs, and 250 kilogram bombs are also exhibited there, alongside several types of anti-tank missiles, and 30 mm. bombs, illumination rounds, and anti-tank mines used by IDF troops to raze houses, like in the neighborhoods east of Jabaliya.
In addition, a number of institutions, like human rights centers and private houses are currently holding their own collections of exploded ordinance, including heavy chunks of bomb and missile shrapnel, bundles of anti-tank missile wires, and shells of every size.
Private citizens and children collect the fragments, much of which has killed or wounded their loved ones. Some Gazans found that one of the types of weapons that caused injuries included tiny cubic pieces of metal that were embedded in concrete walls.
Human rights organizations and medical officials are attempting to link the different types of weaponry to the types of injuries they are finding among Gazans. One of the assumptions is that the small fragments of metal are the weapons responsible for causing the near total and perfect amputation of limbs found in many injured Gazans ? a new occurrence in Gaza. One of the assumptions is that the tiny metal fragments come from missiles fired by IAF drones.
A house reduced to rubble
Amnesty International investigator Donatello Rovera emphasizes that the majority of the killed and wounded Palestinians were killed by known and conventional ordinance. This includes the bomb used on January 15th to kill Hamas Interior Minister Said Al-Siam, who was killed with four of his family members and 5 members of his neighbor's family ? among them four children. On this site, what was once a house is nothing more than a clear plot of land. A neighbor stands on the site holding a large, heavy piece of iron ("at least 30 kgs" he says) that was found on the site, and serves as proof to the neighbors of what transpired here.
Some of the neighbors still live in homes which lost some of their walls due to the blast. That same day, January 15th, the streets surrounding the house were full of people who had made their way there from the neighborhood of Tel Al-Hawwa, where heavy amounts of bombs and phosphorous shells were fired.
Garlasco said that he stood at the same time of the attack 20 kilometers away, on the Israeli side of the border, and still felt the shock waves when the building was struck.
In response to a Haaretz query on the number of shells, missiles, and bombs fired on the Gaza Strip during the three week operation, the IDF spokesperson said the Army does not disclose details of its operations.