Israel used white phosphorus in Gaza, Lebanon: Human Rights Watch | World News - Hindustan Times
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Israel used white phosphorus in Gaza, Lebanon: Human Rights Watch

Oct 13, 2023 02:47 PM IST

White phosphorus has a significant incendiary effect that can severely burn people and set structures on fire

Human Rights Watch on Friday accused Israel of using white phosphorus during its military operations in Gaza and Lebanon and said that it puts civilians at risk of serious and long-term injuries.

The body said that the use of white phosphorus puts civilians at risk of serious and long-term injuries.(X)
The body said that the use of white phosphorus puts civilians at risk of serious and long-term injuries.(X)

White phosphorus, which is used for marking or signaling, has a significant incendiary effect that can severely burn people and set structures, fields, and other objects on fire. Follow Israel-Hamas war LIVE updates here.

“The use of white phosphorus in Gaza, one of the most densely populated areas in the world, magnifies the risk to civilians and violates the international humanitarian law prohibition on putting civilians at unnecessary risk,” the human rights body alleged.

The body added that it analysed verified videos taken in Lebanon on October 10 and Gaza on October 11 showing “multiple airbursts of artillery-fired white phosphorus over the Gaza City port and two rural locations along the Israel-Lebanon border” and interviewed two persons who described observing strikes consistent with the use of white phosphorus.

“Any time that white phosphorus is used in crowded civilian areas, it poses a high risk of excruciating burns and lifelong suffering,” Human Rights Watch's Middle East and North Africa director Lama Fakih said. "White phosphorous is unlawfully indiscriminate when airburst in populated urban areas, where it can burn down houses and cause egregious harm to civilians.”

Smoke plumes billow during Israeli air strikes in Gaza City (AFP)
Smoke plumes billow during Israeli air strikes in Gaza City (AFP)

In response to the allegations, Israel's military said it was not aware of the use of weapons containing white phosphorus in Gaza, reported Reuters. It, however, did not provide comment allegations of their use in Lebanon

According to Reuters, the Israeli military in 2013 said it was phasing out white phosphorus smokescreen munitions used during its 2008-2009 offensive in Gaza, which drew war crimes allegations from various rights groups.

Israel has been carrying out airstrikes in Gaza in retaliation for an attack by militant group, Hamas, in southern Israeli towns on October 7. Over 2,800 people have died on both sides.

On Friday, the Israeli military called for all civilians of Gaza City, more than 10 lakh people, to relocate within 24 hours, as it amassed tanks nearby ahead of a possible ground invasion.

"Civilians of Gaza City, evacuate south for your own safety and the safety of your families and distance yourself from Hamas terrorists who are using you as human shields," the military said.

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