Israel admits troops may have used phosphorus shells in Gaza

By | January 22, 2009

White phosphorus shells

Amnesty warns Israel could be guilty of war crimes

Israel has admitted – after mounting pressure – that its troops may have used white phosphorus shells in contravention of international law, during its three-week offensive in the Gaza Strip.

One of the places most seriously affected by the use of white phosphorus was the main UN compound in Gaza City, which was hit by three shells on 15 January. The same munition was used in a strike on the al-Quds hospital in Gaza City the same day.

Under review by Colonel Shai Alkalai is the use of white phosphorus by a reserve paratroop brigade in northern Israel. …

Palestinians run for cover during an Israeli strike over a UN school in Beit Lahia, 17/01“They obviously could not have gone on denying the use of phosphorus,” Donatella Rovera, Amnesty researcher for Israel and the Occupied Territories, told the Guardian yesterday. “There are still phosphorus wedges burning all over Gaza including at the UN compound and at the school.

“It is clear they are not using it as smoke screen as they claimed. They used it in areas where they had no forces, and there are much less problematic smoke screens that they could have used.”

Amnesty on Monday warned that Israel could be guilty of war crimes, saying the use of the shells in a civilian areas was “clear and undeniable”. …

via Israel admits troops may have used phosphorus shells in Gaza | World news |

During the campaign Human Rights Watch (HRW) said its researchers observed multiple shell-bursts of white phosphorus from the Gaza-Israeli border. – bbc

Is there some other “friend” in the Middle East to whom we can send our billions of dollars since  Israel’s military leaders won’t stop trying to burn people with chemical weapons? Oops, my mistake … WP is not considered a chemical weapon:

White phosphorus is not considered a chemical weapon under international conventions. It is a colourless or yellowish translucent wax-like substance that smells a bit like garlic. The substance ignites easily in air at temperatures of about 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit), and its fire can be difficult to extinguish. – reuters

According to, quoted by The Guardian, “White phosphorus results in painful chemical burn injuries”[39] .

Let’s see, it is a chemical … and it is a weapon, but it is not a chemical weapon? Well, a weapon is a weapon and a chemical is “A substance with a distinct molecular composition that is produced by or used in a chemical process.”  Ah, I get it. White phosphorus must not be made by a chemical process. It is probably excreted naturally by elves at the North Pole.

Marc Garlasco has been on the northern border of Gaza for the past five days watching what he says are white phosphorus munitions exploding over a crowded refugee camp.

Mr. Garlasco, a senior military analyst for New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW), says that the way Israel is using the incendiary device is illegal. White phosphorus shells contain more than 100 felt filaments that ignite upon contact with the atmosphere, drift to earth, and burn intensely for at least 10 to 12 minutes.

The usage of white phosphorus is not illegal under international law if it’s used in military operations as a smoke screen to cover troop movements or against bunkers, armored vehicles, and ammunition dumps. But its use is forbidden against people – civilians and soldiers alike – under nearly all military codes and laws.

“The use of white phosphorus is banned as a weapon that causes ‘unnecessary suffering,’ ” says Mark Ellis, director of the International Bar Association in London. “It isn’t to be used in civilian areas, or indeed against people since it creates horrible damage to the human body, and unnecessarily so.”

Israel, which has been charged with using white phosphorus in Lebanon, says it is not using white phosphorus in its war against Hamas in Gaza, now in its 18th day.

“The IDF [Israeli Defense Forces] acts only in accordance with what is permitted by international law and does not use white phosphorus,” IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi told Israel’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday in response to a query. – csmonitor

It seems Obama’s people are considering re-evaluating aid to Israel.

Be clear, “the Jewish people” of the world are not using these weapons, it is certain military leaders making this decision. How high up? Unknown. There has to be the political will from the top down to stop this sort of thing.

All branches of the IDF are subordinate to a single General Staff. The Chief of the General Staff is the only serving officer having the rank of Lieutenant General (Rav Aluf). He reports directly to the Defense Minister and indirectly to the Prime Minister of Israel and the cabinet.

… During 2009 strike of Gaza Strip, it is alleged that the IDF dropped white phosphorus weapon above Palestinian citizens, which, according to Human Rights Watch, caused massive burns among children. This could not be independently confirmed.[22] wiki

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