Rights group to Israel: Stop using white phosphorus in Gaza

A leading human rights group called on Israel to stop using white-phosphorus in Gaza's densely populated areas.

Rights group to Israel: Stop using white phosphorus in Gaza

A leading human rights group on Saturday called on Israel to stop using white-phosphorus during its offensive in the Gaza Strip.

Under the Geneva Treaty of 1980, white phosphorous is banned as a weapon of war in civilian areas.

Human Rights Watch said in a statement that its researchers in Israel observed multiple air-bursts on Jan. 9 and Jan. 10 of artillery-fired white phosphorus near the city of Gaza and the Jabalya refugee camp.

The group said Israel appeared to be using the white-phosphorus to make smoke screens to hide military operations.



But Human Rights Watch said the practice should be stopped in Gaza's densely populated areas.

"White phosphorus can burn down houses and cause horrific burns when it touches the skin," said Marc Garlasco, senior military analyst at Human Rights Watch.

The Israeli military has previously denied using white phosphorus during the 15-day offensive in the Gaza Strip, but has said that any munitions that it does use comply with international law.

Israel admitted in 2006 that it had used phosporus shells during its war against Hezbollah in Lebanon. The U.S. military also used white phosphorus munitions during a 2004 siege in the Iraqi city of Falluja.



The substance of white phosphorus ignites easily in air at temperatures of about 30 Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) and its fire can be difficult to extinguish.

Human rights organisations have long urged a world ban on the white-phosphorus, saying they cause undue suffering through severe burns.

A protocol to the 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapons forbids using incendiary weapons against civilians or against military targets amid concentrations of civilians.


Agencies

Last Mod: 11 Ocak 2009, 10:26
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