Israeli use of white phosphorus "clear and undeniable": Amnesty
Amnesty International delegates visiting the devastated Gaza strip have found,
indisputable evidence of widespread use of white phosphorus in densely-populated residential areas in Gaza City and in the north,"
White phosphorus is banned under international law for use near civilians. The Gaza strip is one of the most densely populated areas in the world.
One of the worst affected by the use of white phosphorus was the United Nations Relief and Works Agency compound in Gaza City, where Israeli forces fired three white phosphorus shells on January 15.
"We saw streets and alleyways littered with evidence of the use of white phosphorus, including still burning wedges and the remnants of the shells and canisters fired by the Israeli army," said Christopher Cobb-Smith, a weapons expert touring Gaza as part of a four-person fact-finding team.
In related news, Arab ambassadors accredited in Austria have released a letter urging the International Atomic Energy Agency to investigate reports of Israel's use of depleted uranium during the Gaza assault. The letter expresses ..."deep concern regarding the information ... that traces of depleted uranium have been found in Palestinian victims."
A final draft of the letter was made available to AP yesterday. It urgently requested IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei to "carry out a radiological and physical assessment in order to verify the presence of depleted uranium in the weaponry used by Israel ... in the Gaza Strip."
Human rights groups and medics in Gaza reported treating dozens of people suffering burns caused by white phosphorus during Israel's 22-day offensive in Gaza that killed more than 1300 people.
AMNESTY International has said that Israel's use during the Gaza offensive of white phosphorus — banned under international law for use near civilians — was "clear and undeniable".
Israel accused of war crimes
Amnesty is not the first group to accuse Israel of using white phosphorus.
Human Rights Watch made the accusation on January 10 and the UN has also said Israel used the munition during its offensive in Gaza.
Donatella Rovera, a researcher with Amnesty, said: "Such extensive use of this weapon in Gaza's densely populated residential neighbourhoods is inherently indiscriminate."
"Its repeated use in this manner, despite evidence of its indiscriminate effects and its toll on civilians, is a war crime," she said.
Tzipi Livni, Israel's foreign minister, said on Monday that she was "at peace" with the actions Israel had taken during the conflict.