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Israel's Use of White Phosphorus in Lebanon Endangers Civilians, HRW Reports
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By Anthony W. Haddad
Published 4 weeks ago on
June 25, 2024

Human Rights Watch has confirmed that Israel's use of white phosphorus munitions in south Lebanon since October 2023 poses significant risks to civilians and has led to widespread displacement. (Shutterstock)

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Human Rights Watch has confirmed Israel’s extensive use of white phosphorus in south Lebanon since October 2023, posing significant risks to civilians and causing widespread displacement.

HRW verified that Israeli forces deployed white phosphorus munitions in at least 17 municipalities, including five where airburst munitions were unlawfully used over populated areas.

White phosphorus, used in artillery shells, bombs, and rockets, ignites upon exposure to oxygen, causing severe burns and respiratory damage. Its use in populated areas is considered indiscriminate under international humanitarian law.

“Israel’s use of airburst white phosphorus munitions in populated areas indiscriminately harms civilians and has led many to leave their homes,” said Ramzi Kaiss, a Lebanon researcher at HRW.

HRW called for Israel to cease using these munitions in populated areas and urged Lebanon to seek an International Criminal Court investigation into potential war crimes since October 2023.

HRW’s investigation included interviews with eight residents from south Lebanon and analysis of 47 photos and videos showing white phosphorus munitions landing on residential buildings in Kafr Kila, Mays al-Jabal, Boustane, Markaba, and Aita al-Chaab.

The mayor of Boustane reported that two villagers were hospitalized due to asphyxiation from white phosphorus smoke.

173 Injured by White Phosphorus Since October

Lebanon’s Ministry of Public Health reported that 173 people have been injured by white phosphorus exposure since October. Dr. Tharwat Zahran, a medical toxicologist, highlighted the severe and potentially fatal effects of white phosphorus exposure on skin and respiratory systems.

HRW emphasized the need for stronger international regulations on incendiary weapons to protect civilians from the harmful effects of white phosphorus.

Read more at Human Rights Watch.

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Anthony W. Haddad,
Multimedia Journalist
Anthony W. Haddad, who graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with his undergraduate degree and has an MBA at Fresno State, is the Swiss Army knife of GV Wire. He writes stories, manages social media, and represents the organization on the ground.

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