Sunday, October 22, 2006

Israel Admits Using Phosporus Bombs

During the Israel/Lebanon war, disturbing reports of burn injuries described by Lebanese doctors who were familiar with the scent and effects of white phosporus were seen on CNN and their suspicions were widely reported in the media. The Israeli government at the time, however, denied those claims. Perhaps in the face of the obvious physical evidence it has now admitted, albeit with some cautious caveats, that its military did in fact use phosporus bombs in Lebanon:

Cabinet minister Jacob Edery confirmed the bombs were dropped "against military targets in open ground".

Israel had previously said the weapons were used only to mark targets.

Phosphorus weapons cause chemical burns and the Red Cross and human rights groups say they should be treated as chemical weapons.

The Geneva Conventions ban the use of white phosphorus as an incendiary weapon against civilian populations and in air attacks against military forces in civilian areas.

By couching the admission in the cloak of language such as 'open ground', the Israeli government is being quite careful to ward off any accusations that it used phosporus against civilians, but the obvious injuries suffered by those civilians, including children, who appeared in Lebanese hospitals with the telltale signs of phosporus burns defies the Israeli government's denials.

Edery also pointed out that international law does not forbid the use of phosphorus and that "the IDF used this type of munitions according to the rules of international law."

Edery did not specify where and against what types of targets phosphorus munitions were used.
[...]
The International Red Cross is of the opinion that there should be a complete ban on phosphorus being used against human beings and the third protocol of the Geneva Convention on Conventional Weapons restricts the use of "incendiary weapons," with phosphorus considered to be one such weapon.

Israel and the United States are not signatories to the Third Protocol.
Ha'aretz

With all of the hugely destructive convential weapons available to the so-called 'great' military forces of Israel and the US, one has to wonder why they would continue to use a substance like white phosphorus that is so obviously devastating to civilian populations. Even if the IDF did not intend to hit the civilian population with those bombs, its decision to employ them ought to be highly troubling in and of itself just as the use of cluster bombs by the IDF and Hezbollah have left such ugly woundings, death and danger in their wake as they still litter the region, just waiting for a curious child's touch to set the next one off.

War is horrendous enough as it is without these types of munitions being employed by what are supposed to be 'civilized' countries that supposedly respect the rules of international and humanitarian law.

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