International Amnesty | Investigation against Israel for use of white phosphorus
Defence Redefined
Published on 03/11/2023 at 11:32

International Amnesty will investigate Israel’s use of white phosphorus in southern Lebanon as a war crime.

International Amnesty says that the Israeli military fired white phosphorus with artillery along Lebanon’s southern border between October 10 and 16. The attack on the border village of Daira on October 16 was described as an indiscriminate and illegal attack that injured at least nine civilians and destroyed civilian targets.

The use of white phosphorus as a weapon is prohibited by international law. Israel denies this. Nearly 30,000 Lebanese have now fled the border area. At the same time, Israel is accused by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Palestinian Authority of having launched many white phosphorus bombs, which caused suffocation to hundreds of Palestinians, with several of them being taken to hospitals.

Most cases involve the elderly, children, and those suffering from underlying illnesses, according to Anadolu.

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White phosphorus is not banned and is also used by Western militaries, Israel said, arguing that it complies with international law. According to the Israeli military, white phosphorus ammunition may not be used in populated areas, but there are some exceptions.

In 2013, Israel said that it would stop using white phosphorus in artillery to create a smoke screen. After initial denials, the military admitted it had used white phosphorus in an attack on Gaza in 2008 and 2009, but authorities said that the use was in accordance with international law.

The use of white phosphorus itself is not prohibited per se, Human Rights Watch says, but the use of projectile white phosphorus, i.e. white phosphorus when used with weapons on civilian populations, is prohibited. Therefore, if there are gatherings of civilians in residential areas, even in an open field, but civilians are living there, then that is a violation.

White phosphorus bombs are banned internationally pursuant to the 1980 Geneva Convention, which expressly prohibits their use as a weapon.

White phosphorus is a chemical commonly used to illuminate enemy positions because, when exploded, it produces a great glow and heat energy, and those exposed to it burn to death or suffer irreversible skin burns.

Phosphorus burns carry an increased risk of mortality due to the absorption of phosphorus into the body. In fact, it can induce liver, kidney, heart problems and in some cases extensive organ failure.

When used in ammunition, white phosphorus reaches up to 800 degrees Celsius.

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