Last updated: 26 April, 2013

Israel’s army to stop using white phosphorus

Israel’s army has announced it will stop using munitions containing white phosphorus, for which it was internationally condemned during a military operation against Gaza in 2008-2009.

Shells containing the chemical “will no longer be used,” the army said in a statement released late Thursday.

“In around a year, the Israeli artillery will have developed a new munition which can create smoke screens and that uses only gas. This will replace the current munitions which contain small amounts of phosphorus,” it said.

On January 15, 2009 the military fired white phosphorous shells in the vicinity of a compound of the UN’s agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) in Gaza City to obscure Israeli troop positions from Hamas fighters in the area, local media said.

International law prohibits the use of white phosphorous shells in heavily populated civilian areas, but allows them in open spaces to be used as cover for troops.

Israel launched a 22-day offensive on the Gaza Strip on December 27, 2008 in response to rocket fire from the Islamist Hamas-run territory.

The war killed 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis, and it sparked widespread international criticism of the Jewish state for using disproportionate force.