Israel's Investigation into Gaza Offensive More Than Disappointing

April 24, 2009

The Israeli Army (IDF) this week concluded that its forces had committed no violations during the recent Gaza military offensive. Most shocking to me was the claim that “no phosphorus munitions were used on built-up areas”. I recently spent a whole week with the members of our Gaza mission team, who entered Gaza a few hours before Israel’s halt of attacks. They found hundreds of white phosphorus-wedges in residential areas all over Gaza.

To learn more about White Phosphorus from a guy who actually used it, check out the video clip.

Following are excerpts of statements from human rights groups in response to the release of the IDF investigation:

Israeli human rights group B’Tselem:

The investigation emphasizes repeatedly that the military acted in accordance with International Humanitarian Law and that the use of white phosphorus “of the kind in use by the IDF is legal and used by militaries around the world.” The investigation’s authors prefer to focus on the theoretical questions regarding WP use, ignoring the horrific consequences on the ground during the operation. At least 14 civilians were killed due to the use of white phosphorus, seven of them children. Fires caused by WP in homes, UN installations and warehouses of humanitarian agencies have been documented. White phosphorus injuries are particularly severe as it burns everything with which it comes into contact: it causes severe burns when it strikes people and is liable to set buildings and fields on fire.

Human Rights Watch:

The military’s finding that “no phosphorus munitions were used on built-up areas” is blatantly wrong (…). Immediately after major fighting stopped, Human Rights Watch researchers in Gaza found spent white phosphorous artillery shells, canister liners, and dozens of burnt felt wedges containing white phosphorus on city streets and apartment roofs, in residential courtyards, and at a United Nations school. Artillery shells containing white phosphorus also struck a hospital and the headquarters of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), both in central Gaza City.

Amnesty International:

Regarding the use of white phosphorus in densely populated residential areas, the army’s assertions that “no phosphorus munitions were used on built-up areas” and that the “pieces of felt dipped in phosphorus… are not incendiary” could not be further from the truth. Amnesty International researchers on the ground found hundreds of white phosphorus-impregnated felt wedges in residential areas all over Gaza, still smouldering weeks after they had been fired. They similarly found dozens of artillery shells which had delivered the white phosphorus all over Gaza. As well, there is ample photographic and TV footage of white phosphorus artillery shells fired in airburst mode exploding over densely populated residential areas and white phosphorus literally raining down over these areas.