By Erin Cunningham
"GAZA CITY, Jan 22 (IPS) - Eighteen-year-old Mona Al-Ashkar says she did not immediately know the first explosion at the United Nations (UN) school in Beit Lahiya had blown her left leg off. There was smoke, then chaos, then the pain and disbelief set in once she realised it was gone - completely severed by the weapon that hit her.
Mona is one of the many patients among the 5,500 injured that have international and Palestinian doctors baffled by the type of weaponry used in the Israeli operation. High-profile human rights organisations like Amnesty International are accusing Israel of war crimes.
Mona's doctors at Gaza City's Al-Shifa hospital found no shrapnel in her leg, and it looked as though it had been "sliced right off with a knife."
"We are not sure exactly what type of weapon can manage to do that immediately and so cleanly," said Dr. Sobhi Skaik, consultant surgeon general at Al-Shifa hospital. "What is happening is frightening. It's possible the Israeli army was using Gaza to experiment militarily."
Both international organisations and human rights groups, including the UN, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, have condemned Israel's use of unconventional weapons in civilian areas of the Gaza Strip.
Amnesty International's chief researcher for Israel and the Palestinian Territories, Donatella Rovera, told IPS in Beit Lahiya that Israel's use of white phosphorus and other "area weapons" on civilian populations amounted to war crimes. "The kind of weapons used and the manner in which they were used indicates prima facie evidence of war crimes," she said......."