Israel using white phosphorus in Gaza and Lebanon: Human Rights Watch

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Gaza and Lebanon used white phosphorus by Israel. As a result of Israel’s recent military operations in Gaza and Lebanon, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has accused Israel of using white phosphorus munitions. Concerns about the consequences of such actions have been raised by the rights watchdog’s allegations.

As a response to these allegations, Israel’s military said it was not aware of white phosphorous weapons being used in Gaza. However, they did not comment on HRW’s allegations regarding Lebanon.

Hamas’ attack on Israeli towns escalated the conflict, resulting in significant casualties. As a result of the ongoing violence this week, at least 1,300 people have been killed, including more than 1,500 Palestinians. There have also been tensions between Israel and Lebanon’s Hezbollah group as a result of the situation.

Video evidence from Lebanon and Gaza recorded on October 10 and 11 shows “multiple artillery-fired white phosphorus airbursts over the Gaza City port and two rural locations along the Israeli-Lebanese border.”

As white phosphorus is used in densely populated areas such as Gaza, it can cause serious burns and set structures, fields, and other civilian objects ablaze. In crowded civilian areas, white phosphorus poses a high risk of excruciating burns and lifelong suffering, according to HRW’s Middle East and North Africa Director Lama Fakih.

The use of white phosphorous in populated urban areas, where it can burn down houses and cause egregious harm to civilians, is unlawfully indiscriminate.

When exposed to atmospheric oxygen, white phosphorus ignites and burns until deprived of oxygen or exhausted. According to the report, the chemical reaction can produce intense heat (about 815°C/1,500°F), light, and smoke.

Due to its high fat solubility, white phosphorus can cause severe burns, both thermally and chemically, penetrating deep into the body. 

Despite medical treatment, white phosphorus fragments may persist and enter your bloodstream, causing multiple organ failure. 

After dressings are removed, previously treated wounds can re-ignite when exposed to oxygen. White phosphorus burns, even those that are relatively minor, can often prove fatal. Scarring may cause muscle tissue to tighten, resulting in physical limitations. 

Furthermore, survivors may suffer psychological distress and social isolation due to the trauma of the attack, painful treatment, and disfiguring scarring.

Although white phosphorus munitions have legitimate uses, their use in densely populated civilian areas may violate international humanitarian law. In 2008-2009, similar incidents resulted in civilian casualties and international criticism when Israel was accused of using white phosphorus in Gaza.

As retaliation for the alleged storming of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem and the increasing violence against Palestinians by Israeli settlers, Hamas launched Operation Al-Aqsa Storm, a multi-pronged surprise attack on Israel involving rocket launches and infiltrations by land, sea, and air.

In response, Israel launched Operation Swords of Iron, targeting Hamas within the Gaza Strip. Due to Israel’s cut-off of water and electricity supplies to Gaza, the already difficult living conditions have worsened.

Despite Hamas’ attacks, Israel has vowed to defend itself vigorously. 

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