Amnesty International Accuses Israel of Using White Prosphorous in Civilian Areas in Violation of International Law

660px-flag_of_israelsvg1Amnesty International has entered the controversy over Israel’s alleged use of white phosphorus in civilian areas of the Gaza Strip. The use of white phosphorus in a civilian area — let alone a compacted urban area like Gaza — would violate international law. Amnesty’s own investigation found what it claims to be clear evidence of such violations.


The UN and Human Rights Watch previously accused Israel of the violations and now Amnesty has joined the call.

Christopher Cobb-Smitt, a weapons expert with the Amnesty team in Gaza.”Yesterday, we saw streets and alleyways littered with evidence of the use of white phosphorus, including still-burning wedges and the remnants of the shells and canisters fired by the Israeli arm.”

The Israel forces have been accused of burning a critical U.N. warehouse in Gaza and causing a high number of phosphorous burns on civilians, including children.
In the case of the compound, three rounds of phosphorous were identified and came close to hitting fuel storage areas. Human Rights Watch also said it observed “dozens and dozens” of white phosphorus shells being fired by Israel at the Gaza Strip.

For the full story, click here.

15 thoughts on “Amnesty International Accuses Israel of Using White Prosphorous in Civilian Areas in Violation of International Law

  1. …And the Red Cross / Red Crescent issued a report refuting Amnesty International’s accusation. In that report the Red Cross stated that there was no evidence that Israel was using White Phosphorous in any manner that violated the modern rules of warfare.

    For myself, I tend to believe the Red Cross far more readily than I believe Amnesty International.

  2. Jonolan,
    Do you have a link to the Red Cross/Red Crescent story? I haven’t heard of that story refuting Amnesty International’s claim. I do not have any problem with Amnesty International in general so I would be interested in reading the Red Cross, etal story that you referred to. Of course, I know that Israel never does anything improper.

  3. Here you go, rafflaw – http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5j2vQ8GynRSG8lBEQir4RtXL9Ib2AD95MF0M81

    I don’t trust Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch – both of whom made the accusations – because they hate Israel because of previous and ongoing perceived oppression of Palestinians and I believe they’d be willing to make accusations based on unsubstantiated reports if doing so would further their – admittedly worthwhile as a whole – aims.

    Of course I don’t easily trust the words of anyone who is passionate about a political or societal agenda…

  4. These are war crimes by Israel.

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article5549100.ece

    Amnesty International has described Israel’s use of white phosphorus as “clear and undeniable”, and I find no reason to question their assertions aside from blind support for Israel’s actions.

    Does Israel’s claim to be using white phosphorus for it’s smokescreen capability legitimize its use in any application or circumstance? That’s just about what the Red Cross is asserting.

    The bottom line is that Israel must provide a framework for moderate Palestinians leaders to gain legitimacy with the Palestinian people.
    The settlements, blockading, bombing, and destruction of the lives of millions will only further radicalize a population they claim to want to moderate.

    These actions are working against Israel’s national security interest, and it is against the national security interest of the United States to support Israel in this conflict. It is also immoral for us to support actions that are war crimes, although we are certainly not innocent of war crimes ourselves.

  5. The use of white phosphorus as a smoke screen has long been recognized as legitimate. It is not regarded as a chemical weapon under the law.

    As for civilian casualties, those are tragic. But all wars have them and you cannot reasonably expect perfection, especially in war.

    And what was Israel supposed to do? Let HAMAS continue to fire rockets?

    Incredibly, Israel has shown remarkable restraint. If it really did not care for international law, and really hated the Palestinians, they could have simply chosen to carpet bomb Gaza, killing tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of people.

    Sometimes there are no perfect solutions to problems. Israel had to respond, even if it pays a high cost for that response. And if the agreement signed between Israel and the USA with regards to fighting smuggling of weapons by HAMAS succeeds, it may well judge the conflict to have been worth it, regardless of international opinion.

    “We will have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us.” Golda Meir

  6. And what was Israel supposed to do? Let HAMAS continue to fire rockets?

    Nobody has suggested that Israel was supposed to do nothing about the rockets. But it is insane to suggest that the ONLY way to stop the rockets (which killed how many Israeli’s?) was to blow up and burn alive scores of children.

    Incredibly, Israel has shown remarkable restraint. If it really did not care for international law, and really hated the Palestinians, they could have simply chosen to carpet bomb Gaza, killing tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of people.

    So instead of killing hundreds of civilians (how many civilians did those rockets from Hamas kill?), the Israeli government could have killed thousands. How utterly merciful of them. And if members of your family had been violently killed for living in the wrong neighborhood, how much comfort would that sentiment provide?

    “We will have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us.” Golda Meir

    Besides the disgusting bigotry evident in the statement, it’s ridiculous to suggest that it is because the Palestinians don’t love their children that the Israeli government is blowing them up and burning them alive.

    Israel has every right to exist. Hamas is a terrorist organization that must be destroyed. But the Israeli government is not only ensuring that Hamas survives and thrives to threaten it in the future, it is doing so by needlessly killing hundreds of civilians and innocent children.

  7. I find it amazing that people continue to deny that Israel is using these weapons when there is ample video all over the news of these weapons in use. Further, Israel’s claim they are using them as illumination rounds or for smoke screen purposes is laughable.

  8. So according to the International Committee of the Red Cross:

    “Has the use of white phosphorous weapons by Israel in the current conflict in Gaza been confirmed?

    ***Yes***. According to widespread media reports, images and analysis from credible experts, phosphorous weapons have been used in the conflict.

    Does the ICRC consider white phosphorous weapons as they have been used in Gaza to be legal under international humanitarian law?

    If ICRC delegates in the field gather credible and precise evidence of violations, or if ICRC medical personnel corroborate reports by others, the ICRC would begin by discussing this with the party concerned – rather than speaking publicly – in keeping with our standard practices. We have ***not*** commented publicly on the legality of the current use of phosphorous weapons by Israel, contrary to what has been attributed to us in recent media reports.”

  9. Vido evidence of phosphorous being used provided by The Guardian:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jan/16/phosphorus-bombs-video-israel-gaza

    “”It is an absolute certainty,” said Marc Garlasco, a senior military analyst at Human Rights Watch. He had seen Israeli artillery fire white phosphorus shells at Gaza City, Garlasco said.”

    =============================================

    Also disturbing is that the population of the Gaza Strip is about 50% children.

    http://www.diplomatie.be/en/press/homedetails.asp?TEXTID=94460

    and

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_the_Palestinian_territories#Age_structure

    ============================================

    I think there is much more to the stories. I’m not sure we’ll ever know. And, if it’s up to Joe-The-Dimwit, maybe someday they’ll show a propaganda film at the movie theater to clear it all up.

    .
    But…it’s not like the US hasn’t used them:

    “The United States’ use of white phosphorus in Iraq in the Iraq War has resulted in considerable controversy amongst critics of the war. Initial field reports referred to white phosphorus use against insurgents,[3] but its use was officially denied until November 2005,[4] when the Department of Defense admitted[5] to the use of white phosphorus while stating that its use for producing obscuring smoke is legal and does not violate the CWC.[6] A DoD spokesman has also admitted that WP “was used as an incendiary weapon against enemy combatants”, though not against civilians.[7]”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_phosphorus_(weapon)

Comments are closed.