Israel Admits to Owning White Phosphorus Munitions, White House ‘Concerned’

Evidence emerged of Israel's use of white phosphorus munitions. (Photo: via Amnesty International)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

White House spokesperson, John Kirby, told reporters earlier on Monday that the US is concerned about Israel’s use of white phosphorus munitions.

Israel’s military has reportedly admitted that it possesses munitions containing white phosphorus, following concerns raised by the White House about reports of its use in an October attack in southern Lebanon. 

“We have smoke shells containing white phosphorus, intended for camouflage, and not for the purpose of attacking or starting fires,” the official Israeli Army Radio said on Monday, according to news reports.

“Like many Western armies, the Israeli army also possesses smoke munitions containing white phosphorus,” it reportedly added.  

White House spokesperson, John Kirby, told reporters earlier on Monday that “we’ve seen the reports. Certainly concerned about that. We’ll be asking questions to try to learn a little bit more.”

“Obviously any time that we provide items like white phosphorus to another military, it is with the full expectation that it will be used in keeping with those legitimate purposes … and in keeping with the law of armed conflict,” Kirby said.

In late October, Amnesty International revealed evidence that the Israeli army used white phosphorus in its attacks on Lebanon.

The organization said that “the Israeli army fired artillery shells containing white phosphorus, an incendiary weapon, in military operations along Lebanon’s southern border between 10 and 16 October 2023.” 

One attack on the town of Dhayra on October 16 must be investigated as a war crime because it was an indiscriminate attack that injured at least nine civilians and damaged civilian objects, and was therefore unlawful, said the organization.

It said that its Crisis Evidence Lab verified photos and videos showing the use of white phosphorus. Included in the evidence is a video showing the artillery-dispersed smoke plumes, consistent with white phosphorus munitions. 

Asked about the report that Israel used white phosphorus in Lebanon, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant reportedly said: “The IDF and the entire security establishment acts according to international law. That is how we have acted and how we will act.”

The Israeli army has also reportedly been found to use white phosphorus in Gaza, with the Anadolu news agency saying it has “taken some photographs showing the use of white phosphorus bombs on civilians in Gaza.”

Amnesty International says the usage of white phosphorus is restricted under international humanitarian law.

“Although there can be lawful uses, it must never be fired at, or in close proximity to, a populated civilian area or civilian infrastructure, due to the high likelihood that the fires and smoke it causes spread”, it said.

Such attacks, which fail to distinguish between civilians and civilian objects and fighters and military objectives, are indiscriminate and thus prohibited, the human rights body explained.

Since October 7, tensions have escalated along the border between Lebanon and Israel. The Lebanese Resistance movement Hezbollah has engaged directly, but relatively in a limited way in the war against the Israeli occupation. 

(PC, Anadolu)

(The Palestine Chronicle is a registered 501(c)3 organization, thus, all donations are tax deductible.)
Our Vision For Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders & Intellectuals Speak Out