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Sunday, April 28, 2013

IDF: No more white phosphorus

The IDF has announced that it will no longer use white phosphorus as a smokescreen for military operations. The IDF came under sharp criticism for its use of white phosphorus during Operation Cast Lead during 2008-09, even though its use as a smokescreen is completely legal and it is so used by armies around the world.
Smokescreen artillery shells containing white phosphorus "are to be removed from active duty soon" and replaced by Israeli-developed alternatives "based completely on gas" around a year from now, the IDF said, without giving details.
During the Gaza fighting, Israel said troops fired mortar rounds with white phosphorus warheads to clear brush around trenches used by Palestinian gunmen.
At the time, Human Rights Watch said Israel appeared to be using white phosphorus to hide military operations, as permitted in principle under international humanitarian law.
"However, white phosphorus has a significant, incidental, incendiary effect that can severely burn people and set structures, fields, and other civilian objects in the vicinity on fire," the New York-based organization said.
"The potential for harm to civilians is magnified by Gaza's high population density, among the highest in the world," it added, calling on the IDF to stop using the munitions.
By the way, Gaza is not the most densely populated area in the world. In fact, it's not even close.
The 'human rights watch' complaint would never have been made against - or taken seriously by - any other country.

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