ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 150

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US paper reports Israel used white phosphorus in Lebanon; use permitted in some cases

A picture taken from the Israeli side of border with Lebanon shows shells exploding over hills around the southern Lebanese village of Aita al-Shaab on December 8, 2023. (Jalaa Marey/AFP)
A picture taken from the Israeli side of border with Lebanon shows shells exploding over hills around the southern Lebanese village of Aita al-Shaab on December 8, 2023. (Jalaa Marey/AFP)

The Washington Post reports that Israel used white phosphorus supplied by the US in a recent strike on southern Lebanon, noting that several civilians were hurt in the incident and that Amnesty has said it should be investigated as a war crime.

The report, based on an investigation the paper conducted on the ground, says the shells containing the incendiary material were used on October 16 in the border village of Dhayra. Four homes were burned down and at least nine people were injured.

The report wrongly claims Israel pledged in 2013 to stop using white phosphorus, while in fact the military said it would limit the use, largely moving to use other means to create smokescreens for troops. However, it has reserved the right to use such shells in certain, undisclosed cases that have been approved by the Supreme Court (the uses were not detailed to the public for security concerns).

International law does not ban use of white phosphorus. However, the legality of its use, as with any munition, depends on circumstance.

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