Monday, January 26, 2009

Israel Admits Using White Phosphorous in Gaza

"Israel admits using white phosphorous in attacks on Gaza

After weeks of denying that it used white phosphorus in the heavily populated Gaza Strip, Israel finally admitted yesterday that the weapon was deployed in its offensive.

"But we only admit it Saturday when we figure most Americans (who paid for it) won't read about it!" -- Wake the Flock Up

Looks like I'm not the only one who knows about slow Saturday's drop in readership on that particular day of the week.

The army’s use of white phosphorus – which makes a distinctive shellburst of dozens of smoke trails – was reported first by The Times on January 5, when it was strenuously denied by the army. Now, in the face of mounting evidence and international outcry, Israel has been forced to backtrack on that initial denial. “Yes, phosphorus was used but not in any illegal manner,” Yigal Palmor, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, told The Times. “Some practices could be illegal but we are going into that. The IDF (Israel Defence Forces) is holding an investigation concerning one specific incident.”

The incident in question is thought to be the firing of phosphorus shells at a UN school in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip on January 17. The weapon is legal if used as a smokescreen in battle but it is banned from deployment in civilian areas. Pictures of the attack show Palestinian medics fleeing as blobs of burning phosphorus rain down on the compound.

A senior army official also admitted that shells containing phosphorus had been used in Gaza but said that they were used to provide a smokescreen.