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HRW accused Israel of using white phosphorus in Gaza

On Thursday, Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused Israel of using white phosphorus in military operations in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon.

HRW confirmed the authenticity of videos taken on Tuesday and Wednesday showing multiple blasts of white phosphorus.

White phosphorous is unlawfully indiscriminate when airburst in populated urban areas, where it can burn down houses and cause egregious harm to civilians.

Hamas militants carried out a massacre on Saturday, killing more than 1,200 people in Israel. Israel responded with a heavy aerial bombardment of Gaza, killing more than 1,530 Palestinians.

Human Rights Watch claimed that the use of white phosphorus in the Gaza Strip violated the prohibition of international humanitarian law to expose civilians to unjustified risk.

“Any time that white phosphorus is used in crowded civilian areas, it poses a high risk of excruciating burns and lifelong suffering.”

This banned weapon is so toxic and dangerous that it has been labelled White Death. When white phosphorus contacts the skin, it leaves burns incompatible with life. This substance is very dissolvable in liquids, so it easily enters the human body, quickly absorbed and causing extremely acute poisoning.

White phosphorus is spontaneously combustible in air and sticks to any surface. It will continue to burn even inside a wound. Only a gramme of this substance is sufficient to kill a person.

Israeli authorities have not commented on whether they have used white phosphorus during combat operations.

Middle East and North Africa director at HRW Lama Fakih:

To avoid civilian harm, Israel should stop using white phosphorus in populated areas. Parties to the conflict should be doing everything they can to spare civilians from further suffering.


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