Israel To Stop Using White Phosphorous in Battle

Phosphorous Smokescreens in 2008 Gaza Incursion Drew War Crimes Allegations

White Phosphorous rains down on a Gazan city during Operation Cast Lead.
Getty Images
White Phosphorous rains down on a Gazan city during Operation Cast Lead.

By Reuters

Published April 26, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Israel said on Friday it was phasing out white phosphorus smokescreen munitions whose use during its 2008-2009 offensive in the heavily populated Gaza Strip drew war crimes allegations.

Announcing the plan, the Israeli military did not say whether it would also review its use of weaponised white phosphorus, which is designed to incinerate enemy positions.

While legal when fired to mask troop movements on battlefields, white phosphorus smokescreens produce embers and ash that can burn - a risk in urban areas.

The New York-based watchdog group Human Rights Watch said in a 2009 report that Palestinian civilians “needlessly suffered and died” due to Israel’s use of the munitions in Gaza.

“Israel’s repeated firing of white phosphorus shells over densely populated areas of Gaza during its recent military campaign was indiscriminate and is evidence of war crimes,” the group said.

Israel said its military’s conduct in Gaza was lawful, though two senior army officers were eventually reprimanded for a strike near a U.N. compound that involved smokescreen shells.

Such shells “are to be removed from active duty soon” and replaced by Israeli-developed alternatives to white phosphorus “based completely on gas” around a year from now, the military statement said on Friday, without giving details.

During the Gaza fighting, Israel said troops also fired mortar rounds with white phosphorus warheads to clear brush around trenches used by Palestinian gunmen.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.