Physicians: Israeli Bombs Leave Legacy of Pollution, Birth Defects

Gaza Strip, soil has been contaminated due to bombings: population in danger

The 2006 and 2009 Israeli bombings in Gaza Strip have left a high concentration of toxic metals in the soil. Those metals can cause tumours and problems with fertility, and they can have serious effects on newly born babies, like deformities and genetic pathologies. The metals are in particular tungsten, mercury, molybdenum, cadmium and cobalt.

Those are the results of a study carried out by NWRC, a group of independent scientists and doctors based in Italy which studies the non-conventional weapons and their middle-term effects on the residents of areas afflicted by the conflicts. The NWRC working group has analysed four craters: two of them were formed during the July 2006 bombings, the first one in the city of Beit Hanoun and the second one in Jabalia Camp, and the two others are a result of the January 2009 bombings in Tufah, the Gaza City suburb. Moreover, the group has analysed the powder remaining inside a shell of the White Phosphorus bomb THS89D112-003 155MM M825E11 exploded near the Al Wafa hospital in January 2009.

The study has compared the levels of concentration of metals in the craters with those indicated in a report on the presence of metals in the Gaza Strip soil, based on samples collected from 170 locations in 20052. The analyses have shown anomalous concentrations of these metals inside the craters, indicating a contamination of the soil. This, given the precarious living conditions, especially in refugee camps, increases the risk of exposure to toxic substances, through the skin, through the lungs and through ingestion.

“Our study,” says Paola Manduca, spokesperson of the New Weapons Research Group, genetics teacher and researcher at the University of Genoa, “indicates an anomalous presence of toxic elements in the soil. It is essential to intervene at once to limit the effects of the contamination on people, animals and cultivations. We need strategies to help the contaminated people. We hope,” she adds, “that the research performed so far by the Goldstone Commission, requested by the United Nations, will not only analyse the abuses of human rights, but that it will also concentrate on the long-term effects that the various types of weapons have on the environment and on the population. A rapid collection of data should be carried out”.

-New Weapons Committee

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