Israel used white phosphorus supplied by US in attacks on south Lebanon: Washington Post

Yasmine Osama Farag , Monday 11 Dec 2023

Israel used US-supplied white phosphorus munitions in an October attack on southern Lebanon in what a rights group says should be investigated as a war crime, according to The Washington Post analysis of shell fragments found in a small village.

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

 

For weeks, Lebanese media has repeatedly accused Israel of targeting villages in southern Lebanon with white phosphorus bombs as Israel and Hezbollah traded deadly attacks daily after the start of the Israeli war on Gaza on 7 October.

The use of white phosphorus is restricted under international law because fire and smoke can spread to populated areas, according to rights groups.

Photos and videos verified by Amnesty International and reviewed by the Post show the characteristic ribbons of white phosphorus smoke falling over Dheira in south Lebanon on 16 October.

A journalist working for The Post found remnants of three 155-millimetre artillery rounds fired into Dheira, near the border of Israel, which incinerated at least four homes, residents said.

The rounds, which eject felt wedges saturated with white phosphorus that burns at high temperatures, produce billowing smoke to obscure troop movements as they fall haphazardly over a wide area.

White phosphorus can stick to the skin, causing fatal burns and respiratory damage, and its use near civilian areas could be prohibited under international humanitarian law.

Lot production codes found on the shells match the nomenclature used by the US military to categorize domestically produced munitions, which show they were made by ammunition depots in Louisiana and Arkansas in 1989 and 1992.

 The light green colour and other markings — like “WP” printed on one of the shells — are consistent with white phosphorus rounds, according to arms experts as reported by the Post.

The M825 smoke rounds fired from 155mm howitzers have legitimate use on the battlefield, including signalling friendly troops, marking targets and producing white smoke that conceals soldiers from the eyes of enemy forces.

The weapons are part of billions of dollars in US military arms that flow to Israel every year.

Doctors in Gaza have reported that tens of bodies of those killed and injured in the Israeli airstrikes on the strip since the war began presented with severe burns consistent with subjection to the impact of white phosphorus.

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