Right Groups Cite Evidence of Israeli Phosphorus Use
UN workers say incendiary weapon used to attack Gaza compound
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 17, 2009 9:46 AM CST
Workers work to try and put out a fire and save bags of food aid at the United Nations headquarters after it was hit in Israeli bombardment in Gaza City, Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009.    (AP Photo/Majed Hamdan)
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(Newser) – Witness accounts are adding weight to accusations by human rights groups that Israel is violating international law by using white phosphorus as a weapon against civilians, the Guardian reports. Palestinians say the incendiary shells were used to set their homes on fire and doctors report treating patients with injuries clearly caused by white phosphorus, which can burn the skin down to the bone and cause severe respiratory problems.

International law forbids the use of incendiary weapons against civilians, although it is legal to use white phosphorus as a smokescreen. UN officials say the shells hit a warehouse in their Gaza compound Thursday. "The main warehouse was badly damaged by what appeared to be white phosphorus shells," the UN's humanitarian affairs chief said. "Those on the ground don't have any doubt that's what they were. If you were looking for confirmation, that looks like it to me."