In a recent development, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has alleged that the Israeli military employed white phosphorus in its bombing campaigns in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon. This revelation has raised concerns among human rights activists, who argue that the use of such incendiary weapons poses a grave risk to civilian populations, potentially leading to severe and long-term injuries, TuraNews.kz reports.
White phosphorus is a highly flammable substance, sometimes utilized by military forces to mark specific areas. However, its application can result in severe burns, making it particularly hazardous in densely populated regions. Upon contact with oxygen, white phosphorus ignites and generates thick white smoke, contributing to the peril it poses.
HRW has stated that it acquired and analyzed video footage shot in Gaza and Lebanon, which seemingly depicted white phosphorus artillery shells detonating. Additionally, the organization has drawn attention to photographs captured by Agence France-Presse (AFP) in Gaza, displaying distinct white streaks in the sky.
The use of white phosphorus in Gaza, renowned for being one of the world’s most densely populated areas, heightens the vulnerability of civilians and contravenes international humanitarian law. This law expressly prohibits exposing civilians to unwarranted risk, as emphasized by human rights activists.
Responding to an inquiry from Reuters, the Israeli military asserted that it was “not currently aware of the use of weapons containing white phosphorus in the Gaza Strip.” Notably, there were no comments provided concerning Lebanon.
It is worth noting that in 2013, Israel had declared its intention to abstain from using white phosphorus in populated areas except in “extreme cases.”
International law unequivocally forbids the use of white phosphorus when civilians are present in the vicinity. Nonetheless, its deployment for the purpose of establishing smoke screens is deemed permissible under such legal frameworks.