Israel Army probing phosphorus shell use against civilians in Gaza Strip

January 20th, 2009 - 6:46 pm ICT by ANI  

Jerusalem, Jan.20 (ANI): The Judge Advocate General of the Israel Defence Force (IDF) is investigating the alleged use of phosphorous shells during Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip.
According to the Jerusalem Post, the probe was launched on the instructions of Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi and its findings will be released to the public.
Several human rights groups have incorrectly claimed that shells the IDF fired into Gaza and which exploded in the air were phosphorus shells.
The shells, fired by artillery batteries, were used to create smokescreens and contained phosphorus material, but were not actual phosphorus shells.
A phosphorus shell is an incendiary weapon that lands on the ground and explodes, burning everything within a close radius.
Each 155 mm artillery shell bursts, deploying 116 wedges packed with white phosphorus which ignite on contact with oxygen and can scatter, depending on the height at which it is burst (and wind conditions), over an area at least the size of a football pitch.
In addition to the indiscriminate effect of air-bursting such a weapon, firing such shells as artillery exacerbates the likelihood that civilians will be affected.
The use of such weaponry, the IDF said, is permitted under international law in open areas - to clear mines and roadside bombs - but is not permitted for use against civilians or in civilian areas.
The IDF probe is checking whether the shells were used in civilian areas. (ANI)

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