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Banned White Phosphorus Used in Gaza by Israel Defense Force

Utkarsh Classes Last Updated 01-01-2024
Banned White Phosphorus Used in Gaza by Israel Defense Force International news 3 min read

There are allegations by social media that the Israel Defense Force (IDF) is using white phosphorus bombs in the region which is densely populated amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

About White Phosphorus

  • White phosphorus is a yellowish-to-clear, waxy chemical that has a strong smell. It is highly flammable and burns quickly and brightly when exposed to air. 
  • Various militaries, including the United States, use white phosphorus in incendiary weapons to fulfill different objectives such as illuminating targets at night or causing damage to enemies.
  • Industries use white phosphorus to manufacture chemicals used in fertilizers, food additives, and cleaning compounds. In the past, it was used as a pesticide and in fireworks. The military uses white phosphorus in various types of ammunition as an incendiary agent, because it spontaneously catches fire in air.

White Phosphorus in Wars

  • The history of using white phosphorus in warfare can be traced back to the 1800s. Irish nationalists were the first to use it against British forces, and it became known as "Fenian fire." 
  • In both World Wars, the British army and U.S. forces used white phosphorus. After the invasion of Iraq, U.S. forces notably used it against insurgents in Fallujah.
  • Israel faced accusations of deploying white phosphorus in the 2006 Lebanon War and the 2008-09 Gaza War (Operation Cast Lead). The Syrian government led by Bashar Al-Assad was also accused of using chemical weapons, including white phosphorus, during the Syrian crisis. 

Ban by the United Nations

  • In 1972, the United Nations General Assembly classified incendiary weapons as "viewed with horror. These weapons are designed to set objects on fire or cause burns and respiratory injuries to people through the action of flame, heat, or a combination of both. 
  • This is usually caused by a chemical reaction involving flammable substances like napalm or white phosphorus.
  • The UN Protocol III, established in 1980, prohibits or restricts the use of weapons causing excessive harm to civilians.This protocol specifically limits the use of weapons that ignite objects.

Israel-Hamas War


Answer: White phosphorus

Answer: UN Protocol III
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