Human Rights Watch: Israel used white phosphorus on densely populated areas in Gaza
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
The rights group is calling on Israel not to use these devices in crowded areas of Gaza. Marc Garlasco, a senior military analyst for the group, said, "What we're saying is the use of white phosphorous in densely populated areas like a refugee camp is showing that the Israelis are not taking all feasible precautions. It's just an unnecessary risk to the civilian population, not only in the potential for wounds but also for burning homes and infrastructure."
On Friday and Saturday Mr. Garlasco observed the shelling from a 155mm artillery unit from a ridge only about a mile from the Gaza border. A 155mm shell contains 116 wafers doused in phosphorous that can be spread over a large area. The phosphorous self-ignites when it comes into contact with air.
|Suddenly, I saw bombs coming with white smoke. It looked very red and it had white smoke. That's the first time I've seen such a thing.|
—Haitham Tahseen, Gaza Strip citizen
In Nasser Hospital, in the city of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, several burn patients were treated. Haitham Tahseen said he was sitting outside his home with his family in the morning when something exploded above them. "Suddenly, I saw bombs coming with white smoke. It looked very red and it had white smoke. That's the first time I've seen such a thing." His burned face was covered with medical cream. His cousin was more severely burned and wrapped with thick white bandages. Youssef Abu Rish, Nasser Hospital chief doctor, couldn't say what sort of substance caused them but the burns were not from contact with fire.
Avital Leibovich, Israeli military spokeswoman, said the army was "using its munitions in accordance with international law," but refused to say whether Israel was using phosphorous. Under laws of warfare, white phosphorous, which is not considered a chemical weapon, is permissable for creating smoke screens and illuminating battlefields at night.
- "Rights Group: Israel Used Incendiary Bombs" — , January 13, 2009
- Mel Frykberg. "MIDEAST: Israelis Rain 'Phosphorous Bombs' Over Gaza" — , January 13, 2009
- Amira Hass. "News in Brief; Human Rights Watch: IDF bombs in Gaza violate int?l law" — , January 13, 2009
- Jason Keyser. "Rights group: Israel uses incendiary bombs in Gaza" — , January 13, 2009