The accusations against Israel are similar to those lodged against American troops fighting in Fallujah in 2004. Yet in Gaza Israeli forces repeatedly fired them into densely populated residential areas, knowing that such imprecise weapons would kill and injure civilians. This difference in tone and process between Israeli investigations and the reports issued by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch has been evident after every round of conflict between Israel and its enemies. But-but-but what about this? HRW issues new report about white phosphorus Israel used in 2009 - without mentioning it stopped using it in 2013 Human Rights Watch just issued a 45-page report on the use of white phosphorus and how it can injure people if not used correctly. Targeting the munitions at the ground rather than exploding them high in the air would fail to achieve the area of dispersal required for military purposes and would actually result in much more severe damage to buildings and persons on the ground. On page 2 it states: White Phosphorus… was repeatedly fired indiscriminately over densely populated residential areas, killing and wounding civilians…. The Israeli report also discusses in detail the Tel al-Hawa school incident in which white phosphorus filaments apparently set fire to civilian structures. The report gives short shrift to Israeli rebuttals of the charge, leaving the impression that the accusations, down to the details, are established fact. The still unanswered question is how many Palestinian casualties were caused by white phosphorus and how severe were most of these casualties. to create smoke screens, rather than to attack personnel or destroy buildings, purposes for which IDF has a variety of more effective munitions. The new ‘Nigerian princes’ of hacking? Israeli white phosphorus munitions strike a UN school, 17 Jan 2009 (Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images) Forensic Architecture (FA) was commissioned by the human rights group Yesh-Gvul to analyse the general features of white phosphorus munitions. The Israeli report, by comparison, takes a more cautious approach, indicating that a number of incidents are still under investigation. Used in this way in open areas, it is not considered an incendiary or anti-personnel weapon and is not subject to the restrictions that apply to incendiary weapons. Israel acknowledges that civilians may have been harmed by the munition although it questions the reliability of such reports, stating that “There appears to be insufficient evidence to conclude that white phosphorous caused extensive injuries to civilians in the course of the Gaza Operation.” While acknowledging that some civilian structures may have caught fire as a result of the shells, it notes that out of thousands of these projectiles fired, each containing 116 wedges, the damage was not excessive. If burning white phosphorus lands on a person's skin, it can go through to the bone. While it may be tempting for critics of Israel’s military operation to discount the rebuttal offered by Israel, the longstanding bias against Israel exhibited by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch does not offer an objective source to examine the facts. The rest of this report looks at charges lodged by Amnesty International, in its July, 2009 report and Israel’s response to these charges that was published on July 29, 2009. As a weapon, white phosphorus is used to mark enemy targets and to produce smoke for concealing troop movements. One clear difference between the Israeli report and the Amnesty International report is the tone in which it is written. Israel has insisted that its use of white phosphorus in the conflict was permitted under international law and that it sought to avoid unnecessary civilian deaths in Gaza. Read about our approach to external linking. The Israeli military has denied using white phosphorus shells in the Gaza offensive, although an investigation by The Times has revealed that dozens of Palestinians in Gaza have sustained serious injuries from the substance, which burns at extremely high temperatures. Amnesty International followed up this accusation in its July report titled, Israel/Gaza: Operation “Cast Lead”: 22 days of death and destruction. Amnesty International has also produced a film clip accusing Israel of recklessly using white phosphorus. It criticizes the use of airbursts to disseminate the white phosphorus. It concludes that the “scope of casualties and damage” resulting from their use was “relatively limited compared to the significant military advantage gained by smoke-screening.” Israel’s line of argument is consonant with the fact sheet of the American Federation of Scientists which allows that if structures catch fire inadvertently, that does not A second component of the charges against Israel involves the broader question of proportionality. The second and main type of munitions containing white phosphorous employed by the IDF during the Gaza Operation was smoke screening projectiles.These shells contained relatively small amounts of white phosphorous and were used exclusively to create smoke screens for military requirements, such as camouflaging armoured forces from anti-tank squads deployed by Hamas in Gaza’s urban areas. (Jerusalem) - Israel's repeated firing of white phosphorus shells over densely populated areas of Gaza during its recent military campaign was indiscriminate and is evidence of war crimes, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. When the carbon disulfide evaporated, the phosphorus would burst into flames, and probably also ignite the highly flammable carbon disulfide fumes. For example, an ambulance medic reported killed by an Israeli strike was later interviewed  apparently alive and well. Such attacks were indiscriminate and as such unlawful under international law. The Israeli report takes the opposite view stating: Some have suggested that IDF could have used less harmful munitions, or used the munitions in a less harmful manner, to achieve the same military objective, for example, by using smoke munitions without white phosphorous or by firing the munitions as ground-burst rather than air-burst projectiles. necessarily constitute a violation. There is no evidence that Israel intentionally used white phosphorus as an anti-personnel incendiary weapon, but Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch claim that Israel was reckless and showed wanton disregard for innocent life by using it in densely populated regions where civilians could be harmed by it. It criticizes the use of airbursts to disseminate the white phosphorus. The Israeli report exposes examples of duplicity on the part of Hamas. Second, the use of felt wedges soaked in white phosphorous tends to further reduce dispersal of the substance and its incendiary side effects as compared to exploding munitions containing white phosphorous. Against this objective, one must weigh the anticipated risk of harm to civilians and property from the use of smoke munitions, which are designed to be a non-lethal type of munition. British soldiers also made extensive use of phosphorus grenades during the Falklands conflictto destroy Argentine positions as the peaty soil they were constructed from tended to lessen the … M110A1 155mm White Phosphorus (WP) Projectile. The Israeli report addresses this question: …In the case of smoke munitions containing white phosphorous, the expected military benefit was that they would protect Israeli forces from attack: a compelling military objective. A protocol to the 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapons bans the use of white phosphorus as an incendiary weapon against civilian populations or in air attacks against enemy forces in civilian areas. This analysis examines Amnesty International’s charge that Israel’s use of white phosphorus was illegal. The new ‘Nigerian princes’ of hacking? While the report claims to be about "incendiary weapons," it exclusively discusses white phosphorus. found “indisputable evidence of widespread use of white phosphorus in densely populated residential areas in Gaza City and in the north.” In a statement, it said its investigators “saw streets and alleyways littered with evidence of the use of white phosphorus, including still-burning wedges and the remnants of the shells and canisters fired by the Israeli Army.” It called such use a likely war crime and demanded a full international investigation. Claims made in the Amnesty International report that witnesses saw no Hamas fighters in an area that was hit by white phosphorus are of dubious credibility considering the control Hamas still exerts over Gazans. necessarily constitute a violation. Its effects however can be extremely harmful. VideoThe new ‘Nigerian princes’ of hacking? White phosphorus grenades were used in Vietnam for destroying Viet Cong tunnel complexes as they would burn up all oxygen and suffocate the enemy soldiers sheltering inside. The Amnesty International Report July 2009, Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis, Ignited white phosphorus is used to create a smoke screen to conceal the movement of ground troops. The obscurant smoke shells were used by the IDF for military purposes only (, For more information on Amnesty International’s history of charging Israel with crimes review. The Israeli report also discusses in detail the Tel al-Hawa school incident in which white phosphorus filaments apparently set fire to civilian structures. While it may be tempting for critics of Israel’s military operation to discount the rebuttal offered by Israel, the longstanding bias against Israel exhibited by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch does not offer an objective source to examine the facts. Mark Regev, Israeli government spokesperson, says that Israel has been cleared by the IRC. The still unanswered question is how many Palestinian casualties were caused by white phosphorus and how severe were most of these casualties. Phosphorus has many shapes, forms, and uses as we’ve stated previously in our article on the topic of a possible looming phosphorous shortage.Though not all forms of phosphorus are harmful, we’ll be focusing on a nefarious form of phosphorus: white phosphorus. Report. The Israeli report, by comparison, takes a more cautious approach, indicating that a number of incidents are still under investigation. Ashkenazi announces IDF commision of inquiry to determine whether white phosophorus has been used. Third, the smoke projectiles were employed using delay fuses which release the felt components of the projectile at a distance of at least 100 metres above the ground. A second component of the charges against Israel involves the broader question of proportionality. The still unanswered question is how many Palestinian casualties were caused by white phosphorus and how severe were most of these casualties. April 22. S. Africa: War crime suspects must think twice. The IDF took several precautions and other measures that were appropriate with respect to these particular munitions. The Israeli response, The Operation in Gaza, Factual and Legal Aspects, published on July 29, 2009, provides a rebuttal to the charges lodged by Amnesty International and others. The IDF took several precautions and other measures that were appropriate with respect to these particular munitions. Israel has argued that use of the shell was in line with international law and that since it was not a traditional white phosphorus incendiary weapon it could be used in populated areas. The Israeli report also discusses in detail the Tel al-Hawa school incident in which white phosphorus filaments apparently set fire to civilian structures. Israel has admitted for the first time to “using munitions containing white phosphorus” during its offensive on the Gaza Strip in December 2008 and January 2009. The Amnesty International report either denies that fighters were present or argues that the presence of fighters among the civilians obligates Israel to refrain from using indiscriminate weapons. .css-8h1dth-Link{font-family:ReithSans,Helvetica,Arial,freesans,sans-serif;font-weight:700;-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;color:#FFFFFF;}.css-8h1dth-Link:hover,.css-8h1dth-Link:focus{-webkit-text-decoration:underline;text-decoration:underline;}Read about our approach to external linking. First, the munitions were used only for the purpose for which they were designed, i.e. The non-lethal nature of smoke screens when compared to the effect of explosive munitions was particularly important, given that Hamas and other terrorist organisations sought to blend in with the civilian population, making it difficult or impossible to use explosive munitions without inflicting substantial civilian casualties. Third, the smoke projectiles were employed using delay fuses which release the felt components of the projectile at a distance of at least 100 metres above the ground. Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since the group took control of the enclave, but reached a tentative truce in late 2018 that was renewed after successive flare-ups last year. The Amnesty International report expresses full confidence in its accusations even though the evidence is controversial and the credibility of witness testimonies questionable under existing circumstances. It was launched from artillery shells in air-burst mode, which aggravated already devastating consequences of the attacks. Israel's army said Thursday that it would soon halt its use of white phosphorus shells after years of international criticism for using the incendiary munitions in crowded Palestinian areas. January 19. As the Israeli reports points out, Some have suggested that IDF could have used less harmful munitions, or used the munitions in a less harmful manner, to achieve the same military objective, for example, by using smoke munitions without white phosphorous or by firing the munitions as ground-burst rather than air-burst projectiles. Against this objective, one must weigh the anticipated risk of harm to civilians and property from the use of smoke munitions, which are designed to be a non-lethal type of munition. This method (as opposed to the use of contact fuses), is consistent with the use of the projectiles for smoke-screening purposes only. Such attacks were indiscriminate and as such unlawful under international law. A Palestinian man suffering from burns consistent with white phosphorus after Israel's 2009 attack on Gaza City. Stotsky lectures widely about Middle East media coverage and was interviewed on CNN about the topic. In other words, while Amnesty International claims air-bursting impregnated filaments showed flagrant disregard for the safety of civilians, Israel claims just the opposite is the case. One clear difference between the Israeli report and the Amnesty International report is the tone in which it is written. Could they be right? Steve Stotsky is a senior research analyst at CAMERA. The Israeli report discusses several incidents involving the use of white phosphorus near hospitals and schools where it claims Hamas fighters and rocket teams were engaging Israeli forces from within or in close proximity of these civilian sites. The Israeli report takes the opposite view stating: Some have suggested that IDF could have used less harmful munitions, or used the munitions in a less harmful manner, to achieve the same military objective, for example, by using smoke munitions without white phosphorous or by firing the munitions as ground-burst rather than air-burst projectiles. Claims made in the Amnesty International report that witnesses saw no Hamas fighters in an area that was hit by white phosphorus are of dubious credibility considering the control Hamas still exerts over Gazans. While it may be tempting for critics of Israel’s military operation to discount the rebuttal offered by Israel, the longstanding bias against Israel exhibited by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch does not offer an objective source to examine the facts. The heavy reliance by Amnesty International (and Human Rights Watch as well) on anecdotal incidents does not answer that question. The Israeli report exposes examples of duplicity on the part of Hamas. The Gaza Strip also borders Egypt, which severely restricts movement in and out of the territory.