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Gaza Update: Israel Whitewashing White Phosphorous

Along with the Israeli admitted of the use of cluster bombs, their forces are also using White Phosphorous in Gaza. (link to audio from PRI’s The World of an interview with Human Rights Watch)

The Israeli Arutz Sheva writes:

The IDF, in response, explained that they indeed dropped smoke bombs, which contain traces of phosphorus. Nevertheless, the amount of phosphorus is used for smoke bombs, which are allowed under international law.

White Phosphorous is legal for use as a smoke bomb but the use of WP as a weapon targeting civilian areas is a violation of international treaties. The US and Israel however have refused to sign those treaties – and Israel is now claiming innocence by comparing its munitions to those used by … well, us.

Mark Regev, spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, said that Israel was only using legal weapons of the type used by other Western armies. “Israel military forces only use munitions that are acceptable under international law and international convention,” he said.

“The type of munitions used by Israel are similar, if not identical, to munitions used by other Western democracies, including Nato members.” His comments came a day after Dr Yusef Abu Rish, a doctor at Gaza City’s Nasser hospital, said he had treated at least 55 people suffering burns caused by controversial white phosphorus shells.

It’s not a stretch to assume that Regev is referring to the admitted use of White Phosphorous by the United States forces against Fallujah.

French Foreign Ministry spokesman in Paris, Eric Chevalier, recalled that "from a strictly legal point of view" the use of this weapon as a smokescreen "would be tolerated in principle according to international humanitarian law," although he pointed out the HRWs warning to the "dangerous effects" on the population. "France joins the demand made by HRW to the Israeli authorities not to use these weapons, given their toxicity and the density of the population in Gaza, " Chevalier affirmed.

As Gideon Levy writes in another stunning essay in Ha’aretz:

The questions that will beg to be asked, as cautiously as possible, are who is guilty and who is responsible. The world’s exaggerated willingness to forgive Israel is liable to crack this time…

The first echoes can already be heard. This past weekend, the UN and the Human Rights Commission in Geneva have demanded an investigation into war crimes allegedly perpetrated by Israel…

While Olmert, Livni and Barak appear determined to keep going – with Olmert stating that Hamas “will slam into Israel’s iron fist. Will it take time? It will take time. We will continue for as long as it takes to remove the threat over our heads. We have reached marvelous achievements in the fighting. This is the moment for the test to see who has stronger willpower, us or them." at least one Israeli soldier has refused to participate in these brutal attacks on Gaza:

An Israeli soldier has been jailed for refusing to take part in the army’s offensive in the Gaza Strip.

The unnamed soldier refused because of the civilian deaths resulting from the 17-day incursion.

He has been jailed for fourteen days after being charged with, and convicted for, refusing to obey orders.

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Siun is a proud Old Town resident who shares her home with two cats and a Great Pyrenees. She’s worked in media relations and on the net since before the www, led the development of a corporate responsibility news service, and knows what a mult box is thanks to Nico. When not swimming in the Lake, she leads a team working on sustainability tools.

Email: media dot firedoglake at gmail dot com