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Beit Lahiya, January 4, 2005

 
Protest Israeli Killing of Palestinian Children in Beit Lahiya
 
START DATE: January 5, 2005
END DATE: To be determined
 
BACKGROUND INFORMATION: On January 4, an Israeli tank fired three anti-personnel artillery shells from an illegal settlement in the occupied Gaza Strip, killing seven Palestinian youth, six of whom were from the same extended family, aged ten to eighteen, who were working in their family’s strawberry field in Beit Lahiya. The shells, which were fired from a distance of approximately 300 meters, spewed out thousands of metal darts, severing limbs, decapitating heads, and badly mangling the bodies of the victims.[i]

The morgue in Beit Lahiya after the killing. (Associated Press)
A Palestinian youth buries the body of a family member killed in Beit Lahiya.  (Reuters)
 
 
The shells were likely M494 105mm APERS-T rounds, otherwise known as flechettes, a Vietnam War-era artillery round produced in the United States.  "The Israeli military obtained these weapons from the USA after the 1973 war and we have thousands of old shells in warehouses," according to an Israeli defense source. "The weapon is not regarded as reliable or effective and gunners have a difficult time in aiming this properly."[ii]  The anti-personnel tank shell contains 5,000 steel darts, which, when fired from a distance of 300 meters, indiscriminately hit objects within a 94-115 meter arc.     

M494 105mm APERS-T round.  Source: http://www.tpub.com/content/explosives/TM-43-0001-28/css/TM-43-0001-28_107.htm
 
These anti-personnel artillery shells can be fired from an M60 Patton or M1 Abrams main battle tank.  Israel has in service 1,400 M60 Patton main battle tanks acquired from the United States in 1970 and 1980.[iii]
 
The US Arms Export Control Act (Public Law 90-829) limits the use of U.S. weapons given or sold to a foreign country to “internal security” and “legitimate self-defense” and prevents their use against civilians.  Killing civilians from an illegal settlement while protecting a foreign military occupation cannot be justified as “internal security” or “legitimate self-defense”.  Israel’s killing of seven Palestinian youth with US tanks and shells is an apparent violation of this law that must be investigated.
 
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
 
1) Sign up to be a “Weapons Watch Volunteer” to distribute information and collect signatures on a petition to Members of Congress and the President calling for an investigation into Israeli violations of the Arms Export Control Act and a halt in weapons transfers to Israel until it complies with human rights standards and international law.
 
Sign up as a “Weapons Watch Volunteer” at: http://www.endtheoccupation.org/modinput4.php?modin=79

Download a PDF version of the petition at: http://www.endtheoccupation.org/downloads/wwpetition1-14-05.pdf

Download an accompanying PDF flyer of this action alert at: 
http://www.endtheoccupation.org/downloads/beitlahiyafactsheet.pdf
 
2) Sign an on-line version of the “Weapons Watch” petition at: http://www.endtheoccupation.org/petition.php?pid=7
 
3) Contact your Members of Congress, the White House, and the State Department and ask them to investigate the killing of Palestinian youth in Beit Lahiya as a possible violation of the Arms Export Control Act.   
 
Contact information for your Members of Congress is at: http://www.congress.org/ or call the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 or 800-839-5276.
 
Contact the Office of Israel and Palestinian Affairs at the State Department at nea-ipa@state.gov or 202-647-3672.  
 
Contact the White House by phone at 202-456-111, by fax at 202-456-2461 or by email at president@whitehouse.gov
      

[i] Details of the killing are taken from the following newspaper accounts: Conal Urquhart, “Seven children die in crossfire as Israelis target suspected militants,” Guardian (UK), January 5, 2005, http://www.guardian.co.uk/print/0,3858,5095901-103552,00.html; Khalil al-Sheikh, “Massacre in Beit Lahiya,” al-Ayyam (Palestine), January 5, 2005, http://www.al-ayyam.com/znews/site/template/printpreview.aspx?did=14789; Molly Moore, “Shelling in Gaza Kills 7 Palesitnian Youths,” Washington Post, January 5, 2005, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A46654-2005Jan4.html?sub=new

[ii] Steve Rodan, “Israel's military debates use of flechette round,” Jane’s Defence Weekly, May 22, 2001, http://www.janes.com/regional_news/africa_middle_east/news/jdw/jdw010522_2_n.shtml

[iii] Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, “Middle East Military Balance 2003-2004,” Chapter 6—Israel, p. 14, http://www.tau.ac.il/jcss/balance/Israel.pdf