Rassegna Stampa Elezioni Israeliane 2009

Monitoraggio attraverso i media internazionali delle elezioni in Israele del Febbraio 2009

Israel Will Investigate Use of Phosphorous Shells

Posted by gaetanoditommaso su 21 gennaio, 2009

Filed at 3:29 p.m. ET

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel’s military said Wednesday it will investigate charges that its forces used phosphorous shells in a way that burned civilians during the fighting in Gaza, which human rights groups say should be considered a violation of international law.

Palestinian witnesses and doctors said victims were burned, some severely, when Israeli soldiers fired phosphorous shells at houses. On Jan. 10, doctors said one woman was killed and more than 100 villagers wounded by burns and gas inhalation when Israeli forces fired white phosphorous shells at a row of houses in Khouza, a village in southern Gaza near the Israeli border.

Although the use of phosphorous weapons to light up the night or to create smoke screens masking troops is permitted by international law, Amnesty International has accused Israel of committing a war crime by firing the munitions in densely populated areas.

Because of the scope of destruction and the number of deaths and injuries during Israel’s offensive, several groups have announced plans to pursue war crimes charges against Israel.

Illegal use of white phosphorous could become a centerpiece, because it is a specific type of activity that can be graphically documented.

Amnesty International issued a report Monday about a shelling in a residential area of Gaza City, concluding that Israel used the potentially deadly weapon improperly.

”The Israeli army used white phosphorus, a weapon with a highly incendiary effect, in densely populated civilian residential areas of Gaza City, according to indisputable evidence,” the report said.

The report said the organization’s delegates in Gaza found burning white phosphorus around residential buildings Sunday that were endangering residents and property.

”Yesterday, we saw streets and alleyways littered with evidence of the use of white phosphorus, including still-burning wedges and the remnants of the shells and canisters fired by the Israeli army,” Christopher Cobb-Smith, a weapons expert who is in Gaza as part of a four-person Amnesty International team, said in the report.

Amnesty also said Israel used white phosphorus shells in an attack on U.N. warehouses in Gaza City on Jan. 15, an incident that infuriated U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

At first, Israel categorically denied that its use of phosphorous weapons was illegal. On Wednesday, however, the military said in a statement that it will investigate the accusations made by the U.N. and human rights groups.

Video of white phosphorus shells exploding over Gaza was common during the 23-day Israeli operation. Cloud-like tentacles of smoke cascaded toward the ground.

These appeared to be accepted military use of the white phosphorus, to light up areas during battle or to create smoke screens to shield Israeli forces from Hamas gunfire.

Human rights groups say that besides those permitted uses, the Israelis fired phosphorus shells at residential buildings and areas, setting fires and burning civilians. The groups said that would be a clear violation of international law.



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