White House demands info after Israel 'used US-made white phosphorous'

White House demands more information after Israel ‘used US-made white phosphorous during attack on Lebanon that injured nine’

  • Israel has used white phosphorous in attacks on southern Lebanon
  • Rights groups say that on at least one occasion it amounted to a war crime
  • Now an investigation reveals the munitions were supplied by the US 

The White House is concerned about allegations that Israel used white phosphorus supplied by the U.S. during an attack in southern Lebanon, a spokesman said Monday.

Weapons packed with white phosphorous are not banned under international law but are tightly regulated because of the way they can cause horrific burns. 

An investigation published Monday accused the U.S. of supplying munitions that wounded nine civilians in an attack in October.

‘We’ve seen the reports, certainly concerned about that,’ said White House spokesman John Kirby on Monday. 

‘We’ll be asking questions to try to learn a little bit more.’

A photographer captured this attack on Oct 15 on the Lebanese border village of al-Bustan. It shows the tell-tale smoke trails of white phosphorous

White House spokesman John Kirby said the U.S. was concerned about the reports

White phosphorous has legitimate battlefield uses, such as marking targets or producing a smoke screen to obscure troop movements.

But its use is deeply controversial and Israel has already been accused of firing it over Gaza City, despite laws that say its use must aim to minimize civilian casualties. 

The Washington Post revealed Monday that one of its reporters found remnants of three 155-millimeter artillery rounds fired into Dheira, near the border of Israel, which bore markings corresponding to white phosphorous.

The shells fling out pieces of felt soaked with the substance. They burn at high temperatures sending up billowing clouds of smoke.

Lot production codes on the shells reportedly suggest they were produced at ammunition depots in Louisiana and Arkansas in 1989 and 1992. 

Kirby added: ‘Obviously, anytime 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.’ 

Amnesty International had previously raise concern about the use of white phosphorous in Lebanon.

It said the attack on Dheira should be treated as a war crime. 

Smoke rises from Israeli shelling in Dheira, a Lebanese border village with Israel, south Lebanon, Monday, Oct. 16, 2023.

‘It is beyond horrific that the Israeli army has indiscriminately used white phosphorous in violation of international humanitarian law,’ said Aya Majzoub, deputy regional director for the Middle East and North Africa.

‘The unlawful use of white phosphorus in Lebanon in the town of Dheira on 16 October has seriously endangered the lives of civilians, many of whom were hospitalized and displaced, and whose homes and cars caught fire.’

Israel has defended its conduct. 

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

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