The Goldstone Report on the Israel Defense Forces' Operation Cast Lead in Gaza says Israel made use of dense inert metal explosives (DIME bombs) as well as white phosphorus, and that soldiers used Palestinians as human shields.
The Goldstone committee said in its report that Israel used white phosphorus from the time the operation began until January 7. Though the substance is not illegal, the UN committee expresses doubts as to Israel's repeated use of it.
White phosphorus can be used in land-to-land or sea-to-land shells, which the IDF says are only fired as smoke-screens towards non-populated areas. Phosphorus can also be stored in missiles, which release flakes of the burning substance upon impact. The flakes remain hot up to 24 hours after impact.
The Goldstone report says phosphorus was used in attacks on an UNRWA structure as well as two hospitals in Gaza. The report says a phosphorus shell also hit the home of the Abu-Halima family in al-Atatra.
Phosphorus fired on UNRWA structure (Photo: AFP)
Exposure to phosphorus has been known to cause burns and, according to Palestinian reports, death. Doctors employed in Gaza said they had never seen burns of this kind and had therefore been ignorant of how to treat them.
The Goldstone report also condemns the IDF's use of flechette shells, which release 4-cm metal darts on impact, and says that despite their legality according to international law they should not be used in populated areas.
DIME bombs and 'human shields'The use of DIME bombs, which explode into thousands of metal pieces on impact, was also criticized due to the massive injury they are capable of causing. The tungsten alloys found in the shells are thought to be a carcinogen, and are very hard to remove from the body due to their small size.
The Goldstone committee said it had also received reports of diluted uranium use, but had decided not to pursue inquiry due to lack of evidence.
The UN committee also reported two instances in which IDF soldiers used Palestinians as human shields during a search of homes. The committee says the Palestinians were required to enter the homes ahead of the soldiers or instead of them.
The IDF has rejected the allegations, and stated that "the soldiers were ordered never to make use of the civilian population during fighting for any purpose, and especially not as human shields".
However the committee has cited interviews posted by the group Breaking the Silence, in which anonymous soldiers claim they had done so as part of a procedure called 'Johnny', described as similar to the infamous 'neighbor procedure' outlawed by the High Court of Justice in 2002.