Israel has been bombarding Gaza, which has killed 1,800 Palestinians
Israel’s military told residents of Gaza City to relocate toward the south within 24 hours
Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Thursday accused Israel of using white phosphorus munitions in its military operations in Gaza and Lebanon, saying the use of such weapons puts civilians at risk of serious and long-term injury.
However, Israel on Friday denied accusations from rights groups that it had deployed the incendiary weapon white phosphorus in its war against Hamas fighters in the Gaza Strip.
“We deny those allegations, we have not made use of white phosphorus, not in Gaza and not in Lebanon,” an Israeli military spokesman said.
Israel has been bombarding Gaza, which has killed 1,800 Palestinians. Israel has also traded barbs with Lebanon’s Hezbollah group.
HRW 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.”
It provided links to two videos posted on social media showing “155mm white phosphorus artillery projectiles being used, apparently as smokescreens, marking, or signaling.” Both show scenes near the Israel-Lebanon border, it said.
The group did not provide links to videos showing their alleged use in Gaza. Palestinian TV channels have recently broadcast video showing thin plumes of white smoke lining the sky over Gaza that they say was caused by such munitions.
Israel’s 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.
The military at the time did not say whether it would also review use of weaponised white phosphorus, which is designed to incinerate enemy positions.
White phosphorus munitions can legally be used on battlefields to make smoke screens, generate illumination, mark targets or burn bunkers and buildings.
Because it has legal uses, white phosphorus is not banned as a chemical weapon under international conventions, but it can cause serious burns and start fires.
White phosphorus is considered an incendiary weapon under Protocol III of the Convention on the Prohibition of Use of Certain Conventional Weapons. The protocol prohibits using incendiary weapons against military targets located among civilians, although Israel has not signed it and is not bound by it.
Source: Dhaka Tribune.