“Entirely consistent with international law,” says the IDF PR flack, of Israel’s use of white phosphorus in Gaza’s streets. Does international law countenance the use of such a weapon in an urban war zone densely populated by civilians? Of course not.
Here’s how the Times reports the story:
Palestinians interviewed in Gaza on Monday cited…Israel[i] soldiers…firing rounds of a noxious substance that burns skin and makes it hard to breathe.
A resident of southwest Gaza City on Monday showed a reporter a piece of metal casing with the identifying number M825A1, which Marc Garlasco, a military analyst with Human Rights Watch, identified as white phosphorus, typically used for signaling, smoke screens and destroying enemy equipment.
In recent years, experts and rights advocates have argued over whether its use to intentionally harm human beings violates international conventions.
This is not correct. International conventions allow the use of phosphorus on an open battlefield in which it is used as a smokescreen. However, when it used in a way that injures non-combatants it is a clear violation of international law. It may not be used in confined settings in which civilians are present.
Major Dallal would not say whether Israel was using white phosphorus, but said: “The munitions we use are consistent with international law.”
Still, white phosphorus can cause injury, and a growing number of Gazans report being hurt by it, including in Beit Lahiya, Khan Yunis, and in east and southwest Gaza City. When exposed to air, it ignites, experts say, and if packed into an artillery shell, it can rain down flaming chemicals that cling to anything they touch.
Luay Suboh, 10, from Beit Lahiya, lost his eyesight and the skin on his face on Saturday when, his mother said, a fiery substance clung to him as he darted home from a shelter where his family was staying to pick up clothes.
The substance smelled like burned trash, said Ms. Jaawanah, the mother who fled her home in Zeitun, who had experienced it too. She had no affection for Hamas, but her sufferings were changing that. “Do you think I’m against them firing rockets now?” she asked, referring to Hamas. “No. I was against it before. Not anymore.”
This is how Israel multiplies the hate arrayed against it among Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world. And can you really blame a Palestinian family placed in such a situation? Pro-Israel Jews speak as if Hamas’ antagonism springs from some deep-seated religious hatred going back generations or millennia. No, it springs from incidents like this one multiplied a hundred or thousand-fold. Israel creates the scarred, the blind, the lame and the martyrs. Then they turn and wreak their havoc on the country and world which did this to them. Vengeance is not just the Lord’s. Sometimes it is the crippled’s or the tortured’s.