Thursday, March 6, 2008


From the (often) very good science page in Al Safir (every Thursday), these worrying news: 3 articles on the issue of the use of uranium (depleted and otherwise) ammunitions by the Israelis during their war on Lebanon in July 2006. The first, by Zaynab Ghosn, reports on a new study on urine samples of people from Dahiyeh (the southern suburbs of Beirut) showing that they have significantly more than the "normal" levels of uranium in urine. This research was conducted by Mohammad Ali Kobeisi, a researcher, in the Harwell laboratories in the UK. Green Line and the Society of Austro-Arab Relations have collaborated.

Kobeisi is himself the author of the second article which gives the details of the methodology and the results. I've looked at it and I find the number of samples too small. It is probably due to the difficulty of running large scale experiments with limited funds.

The third article was written by Madona Semaan, and it includes the reactions of the (resigned) Minister of Health, Mohammad Khalifeh to the study. Khalifeh states that uranium can only appear in urine if it has been ingested with food or water (and not if it is inhaled). He also calls for caution when studying and analyzing data of this kind.

Immediately after the war, there was widespread outcry and outrage directed towards Israel, for its alleged use of different types of uranium ordinance in Lebanon. My recollections are that none of the studies proved unequivocally the presence of uranium in soil. This new information comes at a time when Lebanon and the region seem to be preparing themselves for a new round. Who knows what ammunitions may be used then?

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