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Israel Used U.S.-Supplied White Phosphorus in Lebanon Attack: Daily

5 Jun 2024 22:20

Islam Times - In a small village in southern Lebanon, an October attack reportedly involved the use of white phosphorus munitions supplied by the U.S. The attack injured at least nine civilians and a rights group believes it should be investigated as a potential war crime. This conclusion is based on a Washington Post analysis of shell fragments found at the scene.

A journalist working for The Post discovered remnants of three 155-millimeter artillery rounds that were fired into Dheira, near the 'border of Israel'. The artillery rounds incinerated at least four homes, according to residents. These rounds eject felt wedges saturated with white phosphorous that burns at high temperatures. This produces billowing smoke, obscuring troop movements as it falls haphazardly over a wide area. The contents of the rounds can stick to the skin, causing potentially fatal burns and respiratory damage. Its use near civilian areas could be prohibited under international humanitarian law.

In the attack on Dheira, nine people were injured, and at least three of them had to be hospitalized, with one person needing to stay in the hospital for several days. The codes on the shells found at the scene match those used by the U.S. military for domestically produced munitions, indicating they were manufactured in Louisiana and Arkansas in 1989 and 1992. The light green color and markings, such as "WP" on one of the shells, are consistent with white phosphorous rounds, according to experts in arms.The weapons are part of billions of dollars in U.S. military arms that flow to ‘Israel’ every year, which has fueled Israel’s war on the Gaza Strip, launched after the Hamas attack on Oct. 7. At least 17,700 people, many of them civilians, have been killed since the Israeli operation began, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

Photos and videos verified by Amnesty International and reviewed by The Post show the characteristic ribbons of white phosphorus smoke falling over Dheira on Oct. 16.

Israeli occupation forces continued to shell the town with white phosphorus munitions for hours, residents said, trapping them in their homes until they could escape around 7 a.m. the next morning. Residents now refer to the attack as the “black night.”

Most fled the town when the shelling stopped, returning during a week-long pause in fighting and leaving again when it resumed.

Uday Abu Sari, a 29-year-old farmer, said in an interview that he was trapped in his home for five hours during the shelling and was unable to breathe because of the smoke. He suffered respiratory problems for days after the attack.

“Emergency services told us to put something that was soaked in water on our faces, which helped a bit. I couldn’t see my finger in front of my face,” he said. “The whole village became white.”

White phosphorus ignites when in contact with oxygen and burns at temperatures up to 1,500 degrees, which can cause severe injuries. The chemicals left in the body can damage to internal organs, sometimes fatally, according to a Human Rights Watch report.

Residents speculated that the phosphorus was meant to displace them from the village and to clear the way for future Israeli military activity in the area.

The U.S. origin of the shells was verified by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. The same manufacturing codes also appear on white phosphorus shells lined up next to Israeli artillery by the city of Sderot, near the Gaza Strip, in an Oct. 9 photo.

The United States is under an obligation to track the behavior of its partners and allies who receive its assistance to comply with U.S. law, humanitarian law experts said. The use of white phosphorus is restricted under such international law because fire and smoke can be spread to populated areas, according to rights groups.

“The fact that U.S.-produced white phosphorus is being used by ‘Israel’ in south Lebanon should be of great concern to U.S. officials,” Tirana Hassan, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, wrote in an email. “[Congress] should take reports of Israel’s use of white phosphorus seriously enough to reassess U.S. military aid to Israel.”

The United States is not conducting real-time assessments of Israel’s adherence to the laws of war, Biden administration officials said.

A U.S. defense official said they were aware of reports about the attack, described in part by Amnesty International, which concluded the incident should be investigated as a war crime.

“White phosphorus fell onto several homes and ignited fires, incinerating furniture and stripping appliances to scorched metal. Remnants of the sticky, black chemical littered the ground 40 days after the attack and combusted when residents kicked at it.”

‘Israel’ has used the munition more than 60 times in Lebanon’s border areas in the past two months, according to data collected by ACLED, a group that monitors war zones. Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati said on Dec. 2 that Israel’s use of the munition has “killed civilians and produced irreversible damage to more than 5 million square meters of forests and farmland, in addition to damaging thousands of olive trees.”

Story Code: 1139958

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