US ‘Concerned’ By Reports Of Israel Using White Phosphorus In Lebanon | World News


New Delhi: The United States is looking into allegations that Israel used white phosphorus, a substance that can cause severe burns, in an attack on a Lebanese village in October, a senior US official said on Monday. John Kirby, the US National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications, told reporters that the US was aware of the reports and would seek more information from Israel. He said that the US expected any military that received white phosphorus from the US to use it only for legitimate purposes and in accordance with the law of war.

“We’ve seen the reports. Certainly concerned about that. We’ll be asking questions to try to learn a little bit more. I do think it’s important to remind that white phosphorus does have a legitimate military utility in terms of illumination and producing smoke to conceal movements,” Kirby said.

“And 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. But we’ve seen these reports. They’re fresh. Just don’t have any more on it right now,” he added.

Kirby’s comments came in response to a report by The Washington Post that claimed that Israel used US-supplied white phosphorus munitions in an attack on Dheira, a small village near the border with Israel, on October 7. The attack injured at least nine civilians, including children, and sparked a fire that destroyed several houses, according to a rights group that called for a war crimes investigation.

The Washington Post said that it found fragments of three 155-millimeter artillery shells that contained white phosphorus in the village. The shells release felt wedges soaked with white phosphorus that create thick smoke and burn intensely as they fall over a large area.

The Israel Defence Forces denied using white phosphorus in the attack and said that it only used legal weapons. It said that the shells it used did not contain white phosphorus, which is legal under international law. It also said that it had other types of smoke shells that contained white phosphorus, but that they were used only for smokescreens and not for attacks or ignition.

“The main smoke shells used by the IDF do not contain white phosphorus. Similar to many Western armies, the IDF also has smoke shells that contain white phosphorus, which are legal according to international law, and the choice to use them is influenced by operational considerations and availability compared to alternatives,” the IDF said.

“These shells are intended for smokescreens, and not for an attack or ignition, and they are not legally defined as incendiary weapons,” it added.

The IDF said that it had strict rules for using white phosphorus shells and that they were not to be used in urban areas, “except in certain exceptional cases.” It said, “These restrictions are in line with international law, and are even stricter than [the latter].”

The attack on Dheira was part of a series of clashes between Israel and Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group, along the border since October 7. The violence erupted after Israel launched a major offensive against Hamas, the Palestinian militant group, in the Gaza Strip, which triggered a cross-border rocket attack by Hamas.


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