Human Rights Watch charged Israel on Thursday with employing white phosphorus munitions in its military operations in Lebanon and Gaza, claiming that doing so puts people at risk of suffering serious and life-altering injuries.
The Israeli military issued a statement in an apparent reply, saying: “The present claim made against the IDF (Israel Defence Force) regarding the use of white phosphorous in Gaza is categorically incorrect.
“The IDF has not deployed the use of the such munitions,” it added. It was not immediately clear whether the latter statement also applied to Lebanon.
Israel has been bombarding Gaza in retaliation for a Hamas rampage in southern Israeli towns that killed at least 1,300 people this week. At least 1,500 Palestinians have been killed. Israel has also traded barbs with Lebanon’s Hezbollah group.
Human Rights Watch said it verified videos taken in Lebanon on Oct. 10 and Gaza on Oct. 11 showing “multiple airbursts of artillery-fired white phosphorus over the Gaza City port and two rural locations along the Israel-Lebanon border”.
It provided links to two videos posted on social media that it said show “155mm white phosphorus artillery projectiles being used, apparently as smokescreens, marking, or signaling”. Both show scenes near the Israel-Lebanon border, it said.
The group did not provide links to videos showing their alleged use in Gaza. Palestinian TV channels have broadcast video in recent days showing thin plumes of white smoke lining the sky over Gaza that they say was caused by such munitions.