International concern about the possible repercussions of Israel's reported use of white phosphorus weapons in its recent military operations in Gaza and Lebanon has been raised by Human Rights Watch (HRW).
According to HRW research, when tensions in the area rise, "the use of white phosphorus in Gaza, one of the most densely populated areas in the world, magnifies the risk to civilians and violates the international humanitarian law prohibition on putting civilians at unnecessary risk."
In response to the allegations, Israel's military stated that they were "at this time not aware of the use of weapons containing white phosphorus in Gaza." They did not, however, respond to questions about the accusations made about their employment of these weapons in Lebanon.
Israel has been accused of employing white phosphorous in Gaza previously. Similar occurrences during the crisis in 2008–2009 led to civilian fatalities and condemnation on a global scale. The study from HRW rekindles these worries and calls attention to the continued usage of this flammable material.
The HRW supported their assertions with footage from Lebanon and Gaza that was captured on October 10 and 11. The footage allegedly depicts "multiple airbursts of artillery-fired white phosphorus over the Gaza City port and two rural locations along the Israel-Lebanon border."
Although employing white phosphorus in heavily populated civilian areas, like Gaza, might be against international humanitarian law, it is not explicitly forbidden.
A substantial danger of painful burns and a lifetime of suffering exists whenever white phosphorus is used in populated civilian locations, according to Lama Fakih, the Middle East and North Africa Director for Human Rights Watch.
When airbursts in populous metropolitan areas, white phosphorus is extremely indiscriminate and can burn down homes and seriously injure people.
White phosphorus burns until it runs out of oxygen or ignites upon contact with ambient oxygen. According to the article, this chemical reaction produces a lot of heat, with temperatures rising to over 815°C (1,500 °F).
The paper also noted that due to white phosphorus's high-fat solubility, it can penetrate deeply into the body and cause serious burns both thermally and chemically upon contact.
Furthermore, it made note of the fact that white phosphorus shards can aggravate wounds, lingering even after medical treatment and perhaps entering the circulation, resulting in the failure of many organs.
The research also highlighted that, on occasion, cured wounds may flare up again after being exposed to oxygen after bandages are removed. White phosphorus burns, even those that seem very mild, can result in fatalities. Survivors may struggle with severe scarring that restricts muscular tissue and leaves them physically handicapped.