The following “news” report by Mohammed Zaatari was published in the Daily Star 21 August:

MARJAYOUN: Mohammad Ali Qobeissi, a member of the National Council for Scientific Research, said on Sunday that a crater caused by an Israeli munition in Khiam contained “a high degree of unidentified radioactive materials.”

Qobeissi, along with Ibrahim Rashidi from the Faculty of Sciences at the Lebanese University, have inspected the crater – which is 3 meters deep and has a diameter of 10 meters – in the Jlahiyyeh quarter in Khiam, with a Geiger-Muller radioactivity counter and nuclear material detector.

“A team from the council will test a sample from the crater in order to find out what kinds of radioactive materials it contains,” Qobeisi told The Daily Star.

He added that the Israeli weapons launched on Khiam and the neighboring areas of South Lebanon “probably contained a high level of uranium.”

The scientific team doubted, however, that the dust caused by these weapons was likely to contain the kind of radioactive materials which would later lead to cancers.

Copyright © 2006, The Daily Star.

This article refers to depleted uranium-tipped weapons, known in the popular media as “bunker busters”.

It is no news that the Israelis used US supplied weapons in the rape and destruction of Lebanon.

And that the Americans have been using DU ordnance since the first Gulf war is a matter of public record.

There is no doubt that scientists tested samples from the crater.

However, that the dust they found was unlikely “to contain the kind of radioactive materials, which would later lead to cancers” is a lie, and everyone responsible for the publication of the report knows it.

In 1998 the following article appeared in the Lancet:

The office of the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights has received a report hypothesising that the current health and environmental problems in Iraq may be linked to US and British weapons left behind after the Gulf War in 1991.

[It] points out that mortality rates among children have increased sharply along with cancer rates: as many as 500 children a day are dying in Iraq.

He proposes that radioactive waste caused by projectiles containing depleted uranium (DU) may have played a part.

DU weapons were developed by the Pentagon in the late 1970s as anti-tank armour-piercing shells but were not used in combat until the Gulf War.

DU is a radioactive by-product of the enrichment process used to make nuclear fuel rods and nuclear bombs.

The report notes that the death rate per 1000 Iraqi children under 5 years of age increased from 2.3 in 1989 to 16.6 in 1993.

Cases of lymphoblastic leukaemia have more than quadrupled with other cancers also increasing “at an alarming rate”.

In men, lung, bladder, bronchus, skin, and stomach cancers show the highest increase.

In women, the highest increases are in breast and bladder cancer, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Diseases such as osteosarcoma, teratoma, nephroblastoma, and rhabdomyosarcoma are also increasing with, according to the review, the most affected being children and young men.

Congenital malformations have also increased, as have diseases of the immune system.

The review says that a confidential report by the British Atomic Energy Authority in 1991 estimated that at least 40 tonnes of DU were dispersed in Kuwait and Iraq; but according to Greenpeace-based on US government information released under the Freedom of Information Act-“over 300 tonnes of DU mostly in fragmented form (dust) were left on the battlefields in Iraq and Kuwait”.

The review also quotes a letter from UK’s former Defence Secretary, Malcolm Rifkind, to Sir David Steel, former Liberal leader, in December, 1994, saying that British troops used 88 DU rounds and that the USA had used much more.

The letter also said that the weapons would emit radioactive and toxic substances that “present a health hazard”.

Karen Birchard.

I accuse the “scientific team” cited in Zaatari’s article, because of their denial of the deadly nature of the radioactive dust bequeathed to Lebanese civilians and their unborn generations by Israel’s murderous campaign, of complicity in crimes against humanity.

And I accuse the Star “newspaper” of wilful and propagandistic dissemination of disinformation.

Sue me.