Belfast Telegraph

Friday 26 December 2014

Israel 'used white phosphorus deliberately and recklessly'

An Israeli soldier stands infront of pale blue 155mm rounds marked  M825A1. According to Jane's Missiles and Rockets the M825A1 rounds are US-made white phosphorus munitions.
An Israeli soldier stands infront of pale blue 155mm rounds marked M825A1. According to Jane's Missiles and Rockets the M825A1 rounds are US-made white phosphorus munitions.
A United Nations worker surveys the damage from Israeli bombardment at the United Nations headquarters in Gaza City, Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009. Witnesses and U.N. officials said that Israeli shells struck the United Nations headquarters in Gaza City. The U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon has expressed "strong protest and outrage" to Israel over the shelling of the compound. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
A United Nations worker surveys the damage from Israeli bombardment at the United Nations headquarters in Gaza City, Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009. Witnesses and U.N. officials said that Israeli shells struck the United Nations headquarters in Gaza City.The U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon has expressed "strong protest and outrage" to Israel over the shelling of the compound. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
A Unitet Nations worker is seen as smoke billows from Israeli bombardment at the United Nations headquarters in Gaza City, Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009. Witnesses and U.N. officials said that Israeli shells struck the United Nations headquarters in Gaza City.The U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon has expressed "strong protest and outrage" to Israel over the shelling of the compound. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
Smoke rises after an Israeli bombing in the Gaza Strip, as seen from the Israeli side of the border between southern Israel and the Gaza Strip, Thursday Jan. 15, 2009. Israeli forces shelled the United Nations headquarters in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, setting the compound on fire as U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon was in the area on a mission to end Israel's devastating offensive against the territory's Hamas rulers. Ban expressed "outrage" over the incident.(AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
A United Nations worker surveys the damage from Israeli bombardment at the United Nations headquarters in Gaza City, Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009. Witnesses and U.N. officials said that Israeli shells struck the United Nations headquarters in Gaza City.The U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon has expressed "strong protest and outrage" to Israel over the shelling of the compound. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
United Nations workers and Palestinian firefighters 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. Israeli forces shelled the United Nations headquarters in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, setting the compound on fire as U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon was in the area on a mission to end Israel's devastating offensive against the territory's Hamas rulers. Ban expressed "outrage" over the incident.(AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
United Nations workers and Palestinian firefighters 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. Israeli forces shelled the United Nations headquarters in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, setting the compound on fire as U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon was in the area on a mission to end Israel's devastating offensive against the territory's Hamas rulers. Ban expressed "outrage" over the incident.(AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
Palestinians flee their neighborhood following an Israeli army operation in Gaza city, Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009. Israeli forces shelled the United Nations headquarters in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, setting the compound on fire as U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon was in the area on a mission to end Israel's devastating offensive against the territory's Hamas rulers. Ban expressed "outrage" over the incident. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
A Palestinian man reacts as he holds a blood stained sheet at the entrance to Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009. Israeli forces shelled the United Nations headquarters in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, setting the compound on fire as U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon was in the area on a mission to end Israel's devastating offensive against the territory's Hamas rulers. (AP Photo/Thaer Al-Hasani)
Israeli reserve soldiers rejoice as they see others crossing back into Israel from a combat mission in the Gaza Strip, Monday, Jan. 12, 2009. Israeli warplanes pounded the homes of Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip and ground troops edged ever closer to the territory's densely-populated urban center Monday but reported casualties were low, an indication that Hamas was largely avoiding pitched battles with the advancing Israelis. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Flares and smoke are seen during an Israeli military operation in downtown Gaza City, early Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2009. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
A shell fired from an Israeli Army tank explodes over a building in the outskirts of Gaza City, as seen from the Israeli-Gaza border
A Lebanese student protester, flashes a V sign during a demonstration to protest against the Israel's ground attack on the Gaza Strip, in front of the European Commission, in Beirut, Lebanon, on Tuesday Jan. 13, 2009. Israeli ground troops battled Palestinian militants in the streets of a densely populated Gaza City neighborhood early Tuesday, destroying dozens of homes and sending terrified residents running for cover as gunfire and explosions echoed in the distance. (AP Photo / Hussein Malla)
Fares al-Dali drinks tea as he sits on a pile of wood and cartons in a house in the Shati refugee camp in Gaza City, Monday, Jan. 12, 2009. In the al-Dali family's two-room shack in the Shati refugee camp, 21 people _ half of them relatives who fled the fighting _ take turns sleeping because the family doesn't have enough mattresses. For lack of fuel, they cook on trash fires _ paper and cartons collected in the neighborhood. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
Palestinians salvage belongings from an apartment building following an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, Tuesday, Jan.13, 2009.Israeli troops advanced into Gaza suburbs for the first time early Tuesday, residents said, hours after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned Islamic militants that they face an "iron fist" unless they agree to Israeli terms for an end to war in the Gaza Strip.(AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
A Palestinian runs past graffiti reading "the anniversary of the movement of the free" as smoke rises following an explosion caused by Israeli military operations in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2009. Israeli troops advanced into Gaza suburbs for the first time early Tuesday, residents said, hours after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned Islamic militants that they face an "iron fist" unless they agree to Israeli terms for an end to war in the Gaza Strip. (AP Photo/Eyad Baba)
Mariam Khalid, 2, holds a Palestinian flag with writing in Arabic reading "An Arab Palestine" as she is held by her mother Nagwa, at a candlelit vigil in a show of mourning and support for those who have died in Gaza, at Talaat Harb square in downtown Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Jan. 12, 2009. Israel's offensive in Gaza has sparked widespread anger across the Middle East, and Egypt, which shares a border with Gaza, has come under criticism for only allowing limited openings of its border - a move seen by many as abetting Israel's siege of Gaza's 1.4 million residents. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
A relative leans over the body of Palestinian Islamic jihad militant Muhammed Al-Hour, in his family house during his funeral, in Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2009. Israeli troops advanced into Gaza suburbs for the first time early Tuesday, residents said, hours after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned Islamic militants that they face an "iron fist" unless they agree to Israeli terms for an end to war in the Gaza Strip. (AP Photo/Khaled Omar)
Israeli army armored vehicles drives towards Israel's border with the Gaza Strip on a combat mission, Monday, Jan. 12, 2009. Israeli warplanes pounded the homes of Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip and ground troops edged ever closer to the territory's densely-populated urban center Monday but reported casualties were low, an indication that Hamas was largely avoiding pitched battles with the advancing Israelis.(AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
An Israeli soldier prays on top of a mobile artillery position in a staging area near Israel's border with Gaza, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2009. Israeli troops advanced into Gaza suburbs for the first time early Tuesday, residents said, hours after Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned Islamic militants that they face an "iron fist" unless they agree to Israeli terms for an end to war in the Gaza Strip. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
An Israeli Army soldier prepares for morning prayers next to his armoured vehicle on the Israeli side of Israel-Gaza border Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2009. Israeli troops advanced into Gaza suburbs for the first time early Tuesday, residents said, hours after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned Islamic militants that they face an "iron fist" unless they agree to Israeli terms for an end to war in the Gaza Strip. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)
An Israeli army mortar squad fires a round towards a target in the Gaza Strip, from the Israel side of the border, in southern Israel, Monday Jan. 12, 2009. Israeli warplanes pounded the homes of Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip and ground troops edged ever closer to the territory's densely-populated urban center Monday but reported casualties were low, an indication that Hamas was largely avoiding pitched battles with the advancing Israelis(AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, gestures while heading a PLO Executive Committee meeting at his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2009. Israeli ground troops battled Palestinian militants in the streets of a densely populated Gaza City neighborhood early Tuesday, destroying dozens of homes and sending terrified residents running for cover as gunfire and explosions echoed in the distance. (AP Photo / Muhammed Muheisen)
An Israeli attack helicopter fires a flare as seen from the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, Monday Jan. 5, 2009. Israeli forces pounded Gaza Strip houses, mosques and tunnels Monday from the air, land and sea, killing at least seven children and six other civilians, as they consolidated a bruising offensive against Palestinian militants. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
A Palestinian man holds his head in his hands as he reacts at the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, Monday, Jan. 5, 2009. Israeli forces pounded Gaza Strip houses, mosques and smuggling tunnels on Monday from the air, land and sea, killing at least seven children as they pressed a bruising offensive against Palestinian militants. (AP Photo/Ashraf Amra)
Palestinians carry a boy into Shifa hospital in Gaza City, wounded during the Israeli army operation in Gaza, Sunday Jan. 4, 2009. Israeli ground troops and tanks cut swaths through the Gaza Strip Sunday, bisecting the coastal territory and surrounding its biggest city as the new phase of a devastating offensive against the Hamas group gained momentum. (AP Photo/Ashraf Amra)
An Israeli soldier wounded in the Gaza Strip arrives at Soroka Hospital in the southern Israeli town of Beersheba, Monday, Jan. 5, 2009.The expansion of Israel's offensive against Gaza's Hamas rulers into ground battles and artillery salvos is taking a heavier toll on the civilians of the crowded sliver of land, including three toddlers killed Monday by the blast of a crashing shell. (AP Photo/Tara Todras-Whitehill)
Flares from Israeli forces' operations are seen over Gaza City, as seen from southern Israel, Monday, Jan. 5, 2009. Israeli forces pounded Gaza Strip houses, mosques and smuggling tunnels on Monday from the air, land and sea, killing at least seven children as they pressed a bruising offensive against Palestinian militants. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
A Palestinian man reacts after bringing his children who were wounded in an Israeli army incursion into hospital in Gaza City, Monday, Jan. 5, 2009. Israel seized control of high-rise buildings and attacked houses, mosques and smuggling tunnels as it pressed forward with its offensive against the Gaza Strip's Hamas rulers on Monday, even as a stream of European leaders headed for the region to press for a truce. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
A Palestinian demonstrator holds a burning police hat aloft outside the Israeli Embassy on December 29, 2008 in London, England
Palestinians search for bodies in the rubble of the destroyed house of Hamas senior leader Nizar Rayan after an Israeli missiles strike in the refugee camp of Jabaliya on January 1, 2009 in Gaza
A child arrives at Shifa hospital in Gaza City after an Israeli air strike yesterday
Samera Baalusha (34) carries her surving child Mohamad (15 months) while she waits to see the body of her daughter Jawaher Baalusha (aged 4) during the funeral held for her and four of her sisters who were killed in an Israeli missile strike, on December 29, 2008 in the Jebaliya refugee camp, in the northern Gaza Strip. Jawher Baalusha and four of her sisters were killed during an Israeli air raid while they were sleeping together in their bedroom.
You will be martyrs: These were the words spoken by the surviving sister as her five siblings, Jawaher, four, Dina, eight, Samar, 12, Ikram, 15 and Tahrir, 17, lay dying beneath the rubble of their home
Smoke rises above Gaza after another Israeli air strike on a Hamas target, December 29, 2008 along Israel's side of the Gaza border. The Israeli Air Force continued its strike of the Hamas ruled Gaza Strip for a third consecutive day, killing 307 Palestinians in the air raids, as Israel prepared to launch a possible invasion.
In this image taken from APTN video young men carry a badly injured man on a stretcher to an awaiting vehicle after Israeli aircraft struck Hamas security compounds across Gaza in Gaza City on Saturday Dec. 27, 2008. Hamas and medics reported that dozens of people were killed and that others were still buried under the rubble. The strikes caused widespread panic and confusion, as black clouds of smoke rose above Gaza. (AP Photo/APTN)
Palestinian prisoners flee over the rubble of the central security headquarters and prison, known as the Saraya, after it was hit during an Israeli missile strike, in Gaza City, Sunday, Dec. 28, 2008. Some 280 Palestinians have been killed and 600 people wounded since Israel's campaign to quash rocket barrages from Gaza began midday Saturday, a Gaza health official said. Most of the dead were Hamas police. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
Palestinians carry the body of a Palestinian killed in an Israeli missile strike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes demolished dozens of Hamas security compounds across Gaza on Saturday in unprecedented waves of simultaneous air strikes. Gaza medics said more than 120 people were killed and more than 250 wounded. (AP Photo/Hatem Omar)
Palestinians gather at the site of a security compound used by the Islamic group Hamas following an Israeli missile strike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes demolished dozens of Hamas security compounds across Gaza on Saturday in unprecedented waves of simultaneous air strikes. Gaza medics said more than 120 people were killed and more than 250 wounded.(AP Photo/Hatem Omar)
Palestinians carry the body of a Palestinan from the rubble following an Israeli missile strike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008.Israeli warplanes demolished dozens of Hamas security compounds across Gaza on Saturday in unprecedented waves of simultaneous air strikes. Gaza medics said more than 120 people were killed and more than 250 wounded.(AP Photo/Hatem Omar)
A Palestinian girl wounded in an Israeli missile strike is carried into the emergency area at Shifa hospital in Gaza City, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes retaliating for rocket fire from Gaza pounded dozens of security compounds across the Hamas-ruled territory in unprecedented waves of air strikes Saturday, killing at least 155 and wounding more than 310 in the bloodiest day in Gaza in decades. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
A Palestinian man wounded in an Israeli missile strike is carried into the emergency area at Shifa hospital in Gaza City, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes demolished dozens of Hamas security compounds across Gaza on Saturday in unprecedented waves of simultaneous air strikes. Gaza medics said more than 120 people were killed and more than 250 wounded.(AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
An Israeli police officer inspects damage to a house that was hit by a rocket fired by Palestinian militants in Gaza which killed a man in the southern Israeli town of Netivot near Gaza, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes retaliating for rocket fire from the Gaza Strip pounded dozens of security compounds across the Hamas-ruled territory in unprecedented waves of airstrikes Saturday, killing more than 200 people and wounding nearly 400 in the single bloodiest day of fighting in years. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
An injured Palestinian security force officer from Hamas crawls as he waits for assistance at the site of an Israeli missile strike at the security headquarters in Gaza City, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes retaliating for rocket fire from the Gaza Strip pounded dozens of security compounds across the Hamas-ruled territory in unprecedented waves of airstrikes Saturday, killing more than 200 people and wounding nearly 400 in the single bloodiest day of fighting in years. (AP Photo/Thaer Al-Hasani)
Palestinians throw rocks at Israeli soldiers during a protest against Israeli strikes in Gaza in the Jerusalem neighborhood of A-tur, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes retaliating for rocket fire from Gaza pounded dozens of security compounds across the Hamas-ruled territory in unprecedented waves of air strikes Saturday, killing at least 155 and wounding more than 310 in the bloodiest day in Gaza in decades. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)
An Israeli soldier prays on top of a tank at a staging area near the Sufa Crossing just outside the southern Gaza Strip, Sunday, Dec. 28, 2008. Gazans cowered in their homes Sunday as Israeli warplanes pressing one of Israel's deadliest assaults ever on Palestinian militants unleashed missiles on weapons warehouses, a police station, the homes of militant field commanders and dozens of other targets across the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.More than 270 Palestinians, most of them militants, have been killed and more than 600 people wounded since Israel's campaign to quash rocket barrages from Gaza began midday Saturday.(AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
Israeli police officers scuffle with Israeli left wing activists during a protest against the Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes retaliating for rocket fire from the Gaza Strip pounded dozens of security compounds across the Hamas-ruled territory in unprecedented waves of airstrikes Saturday, killing more than 200 people and wounding nearly 400 in the single bloodiest day of fighting in years. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
A Palestinian family rushes from the scene of an Israeli missile strike on a building in the Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, Sunday, Dec. 28, 2008. Gazans cowered in their homes Sunday as Israeli warplanes pressing one of Israel's deadliest assaults ever on Palestinian militants unleashed missiles on weapons warehouses, a police station, the homes of militant field commanders and dozens of other targets across the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.More than 270 Palestinians, most of them militants, have been killed and more than 600 people wounded since Israel's campaign to quash rocket barrages from Gaza began midday Saturday. (AP Photo/MaanImages, Hatem Omar)
A bulldozer tries to push sand on a fire after an Israeli missile strike on a building in the Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, Sunday, Dec. 28, 2008. Gazans covered in their homes Sunday as Israeli warplanes pressing one of Israel's deadliest assaults ever on Palestinian militants unleashed missiles on weapons warehouses, a police station, the homes of militant field commanders and dozens of other targets across the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. (AP Photo/Hatem Omar,MaanImages)
Palestinians gather at the scene of an Israeli missile strike on a building in the Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, Sunday, Dec. 28, 2008. Gazans cowered in their homes Sunday as Israeli warplanes pressing one of Israel's deadliest assaults ever on Palestinian militants unleashed missiles on weapons warehouses, a police station, the homes of militant field commanders and dozens of other targets across the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. More than 270 Palestinians _ most of them militants _ have been killed and more than 600 people wounded since Israel's campaign to quash rocket barrages from Gaza began midday Saturday.(AP Photo/Hatem Omar,MaanImages)
Palestinian firefighters try to extinguish fire at a burning building after an Israeli missile strike in the Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, Sunday, Dec. 28, 2008. Israeli warplanes pressing one of Israel's deadliest assaults ever on Palestinian militants dropped bombs and missiles on a top security installation and dozens of other targets across Hamas-ruled Gaza on Sunday. Israel's Cabinet authorized a callup of at least 6,500 reserve soldiers, suggesting plans to expand an offensive against Gaza rocket squads that has already killed some 280 Palestinians. (AP Photo/Eyad Baba)
An injured Palestinian prisoner is helped as he and others flee through the rubble of the central security headquarters and prison, known as the Saraya, after it was hit in an Israeli missile strike in in Gaza City, Sunday, Dec. 28, 2008. More than 270 Palestinians have been killed and more than 600 people wounded since Israel's campaign to quash rocket barrages from Gaza began midday Saturday.(AP Photo/Adel Hana)
Israeli hospital patients and their families wait in a bomb shelter in Ashkelon Barzily hospital, southern Israel, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes retaliating for rocket fire from the Gaza Strip pounded dozens of security compounds across the Hamas-ruled territory in unprecedented waves of airstrikes Saturday, killing more than 200 people and wounding nearly 400 in the single bloodiest day of fighting in years. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
Palestinians gather in the crater of an Israeli missile strike on a building used by the Islamic group Hamas in Gaza City, Sunday, Dec. 28, 2008. More than 270 Palestinians, have been killed and more than 600 people wounded since Israel's campaign to quash rocket barrages from Gaza began midday Saturday. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Israeli Arabs and left wing activists wave Palestinians flags during a protest against the Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes retaliating for rocket fire from the Gaza Strip pounded dozens of security compounds across the Hamas-ruled territory in unprecedented waves of airstrikes Saturday, killing more than 200 people and wounding nearly 400 in the single bloodiest day of fighting in years. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
A Palestinian woman cries during a protest in Damascus, Syria on Saturday Dec. 27, 2008 against an Israeli raid on Gaza that killed some 145 Palestinians. Israeli warplanes attacked dozens of security compounds across Hamas-ruled Gaza on Saturday in unprecedented waves of air strikes. Gaza medics said at least 145 people were killed and more than 310 wounded in the single deadliest day in Gaza fighting in recent memory. (AP Photo/Bassem Tellawi)
Hundreds of Hamas supporters protest in Damascus, Syria on Saturday Dec. 27, 2008 against an Israeli raid on Gaza that killed some 145 Palestinians. Israeli warplanes attacked dozens of security compounds across Hamas-ruled Gaza on Saturday in unprecedented waves of air strikes. Gaza medics said at least 145 people were killed and more than 310 wounded in the single deadliest day in Gaza fighting in recent memory. (AP Photo Bassem/ Tellawi)
A Palestinian man gives an Hamas Islamic symbol during a protest in Damascus, Syria on Saturday Dec. 27, 2008 against an Israeli raid on Gaza that killed some 145 Palestinians. Israeli warplanes attacked dozens of security compounds across Hamas-ruled Gaza on Saturday in unprecedented waves of air strikes. Gaza medics said at least 145 people were killed and more than 310 wounded in the single deadliest day in Gaza fighting in recent memory. (AP Photo/ Bassem Tellawi)
A Palestinian women and supporter of Hamas accompanied by a child are seen during a protest in Damascus, Syria on Saturday Dec. 27, 2008 against an Israeli raid on Gaza that killed some 145 Palestinians. Israeli warplanes attacked dozens of security compounds across Hamas-ruled Gaza on Saturday in unprecedented waves of air strikes. Gaza medics said at least 145 people were killed and more than 310 wounded in the single deadliest day in Gaza fighting in recent memory. (AP Photo/ Bassem Tellawi).
Smoke rises from Israeli missile strikes in the northern Gaza Strip as seen from the Israeli community of Netiv Hasara, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli aircraft struck Hamas security compounds across Gaza on Saturday in an unprecedented series of simultaneous strikes. Hamas and medics reported that dozens of people were killed and that others were still buried under the rubble. Health Ministry official Moawiya Hassanain said at least 120 people were killed. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
A Palestinian security force officer carries a wounded girl into the emergency room at Shifa hospital in Gaza City, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes retaliating for rocket fire from Gaza pounded dozens of security compounds across the Hamas-ruled territory in unprecedented waves of air strikes Saturday, killing at least 155 and wounding more than 310 in the bloodiest day in Gaza in decades.(AP Photo/Majed Hamdan)
Israeli soldiers fire rubber bullets and throw stun grenades at Palestinian demonstrators during clashes following a demonstration against the Israeli missiles strike on Gaza, at the Kalandia checkpoint between the West Bank city of Ramallah and Jerusalem on Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes retaliating for rocket fire from Gaza pounded dozens of security compounds across the Hamas-ruled territory in unprecedented waves of air strikes Saturday, killing at least 155 and wounding more than 310 in the bloodiest day in Gaza in decades. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
Smoke rises over Gaza City, following an Israeli air strike at the Palestinian police headquarters in Gaza City, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes retaliating for rocket fire from Gaza pounded dozens of security compounds across the Hamas-ruled territory in unprecedented waves of air strikes Saturday, killing at least 155 and wounding more than 310 in the bloodiest day in Gaza in decades. (AP Photo/Ashraf Amra)
Palestinian women run away during clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians, following a demonstration against the Israeli missiles strike on Gaza, at the Kalandia checkpoint between the West Bank city of Ramallah and Jerusalem Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes attacked dozens of security compounds across Hamas-ruled Gaza on Saturday in unprecedented waves of air strikes. Gaza medics said at least 145 people were killed and more than 310 wounded in the single deadliest day in Gaza fighting in recent memory. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
A Palestinian man wounded in an Israeli missile strike is carried into the emergency area at Shifa hospital in Gaza City, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes demolished dozens of Hamas security compounds across Gaza on Saturday in unprecedented waves of simultaneous air strikes. Gaza medics said more than 120 people were killed and more than 250 wounded.(AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
Palestinians wounded in Israeli missile strikes are seen in the emergency area at Shifa hospital in Gaza City, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes demolished dozens of Hamas security compounds across Gaza on Saturday in unprecedented waves of simultaneous air strikes. Gaza medics said at least 145 people were killed and more than 310 wounded in the single deadliest day in Gaza fighting in recent memory. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Palestinians gather at the site of a security compound used by the Islamic group Hamas following an Israeli missile strike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes demolished dozens of Hamas security compounds across Gaza on Saturday in unprecedented waves of simultaneous air strikes. Gaza medics said more than 120 people were killed and more than 250 wounded.(AP Photo/Hatem Omar)
Palestinians run for cover following an Israeli missile strike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes demolished dozens of Hamas security compounds across Gaza on Saturday in unprecedented waves of simultaneous air strikes. Gaza medics said more than 120 people were killed and more than 250 wounded.(AP Photo/Hatem Omar)
Palestinian children and a man wounded in Israeli missile strikes are seen in the emergency area at Shifa hospital in Gaza City, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes demolished dozens of Hamas security compounds across Gaza on Saturday in unprecedented waves of simultaneous air strikes. Gaza medics said at least 145 people were killed and more than 310 wounded in the single deadliest day in Gaza fighting in recent memory. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Palestinian relatives of security force officers of the Islamic group Hamas react after seeing their bodies at Shifa hospital in Gaza City, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes retaliating for rocket fire from Gaza pounded dozens of security compounds across the Hamas-ruled territory in unprecedented waves of air strikes Saturday, killing at least 155 and wounding more than 310 in the bloodiest day in Gaza in decades.(AP Photo/Adel Hana)
Israeli soldiers run away to avoid a stun grenade thrown by another soldier by mistake during clashes with Palestinians, following a demonstration against the Israeli missiles strike on Gaza, at the Kalandia checkpoint between the West Bank city of Ramallah and Jerusalem Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes attacked dozens of security compounds across Hamas-ruled Gaza on Saturday in unprecedented waves of air strikes. Gaza medics said at least 145 people were killed and more than 310 wounded in the single deadliest day in Gaza fighting in recent memory. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
Palestinian firefighters try to assist at the site of a security compound used by the Islamic group Hamas following an Israeli missile strike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes demolished dozens of Hamas security compounds across Gaza on Saturday in unprecedented waves of simultaneous air strikes. Gaza medics said more than 120 people were killed and more than 250 wounded.(AP Photo/Hatem Omar)
In this image taken from APTN video, Palestinian men carry two injured children into hospital after Israeli aircraft struck Hamas security compounds across Gaza in Gaza City on Saturday Dec. 27, 2008. Hamas and medics reported that dozens of people were killed and that others were still buried under the rubble. The strikes caused widespread panic and confusion, as black clouds of smoke rose above Gaza. (AP Photo/APTN)
In this image taken from APTN video young men carry a badly injured man on a stretcher to an awaiting vehicle as debris lies in the road after Israeli aircraft struck Hamas security compounds across Gaza in Gaza City on Saturday Dec. 27, 2008. Hamas and medics reported that dozens of people were killed and that others were still buried under the rubble. The strikes caused widespread panic and confusion, as black clouds of smoke rose above Gaza. (AP Photo/APTN)
In this image taken from APTN video men stand outside a destroyed police station after Israeli aircraft struck Hamas security compounds across Gaza in Gaza City on Saturday Dec. 27, 2008. Hamas and medics reported that dozens of people were killed and that others were still buried under the rubble. The strikes caused widespread panic and confusion, as black clouds of smoke rose above Gaza. (AP Photo/APTN)
An explosion from an Israeli missile strike in the northern Gaza Strip as seen from the Israeli community of Netiv Hasara, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes demolished dozens of Hamas security compounds across Gaza on Saturday in unprecedented waves of simultaneous air strikes. Gaza medics said at least 145 people were killed and more than 310 wounded in the single deadliest day in Gaza fighting in recent memory. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
A Palestinian demonstrator dressed as Santa Claus uses a sling-shot to hurl stones at Israeli border police during a demonstration against Israel's separation barrier in the West Bank village of Bilin near Ramallah, Friday, Dec. 26, 2008. Israel says the barrier is necessary for security while Palestinians call it a land grab.(AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)

Israel "deliberately and recklessly" fired white phosphorus shells in densely populated areas of Gaza in an "indiscriminate" way that killed and wounded civilians and is "evidence of war crimes", Human Rights Watch said yesterday.

A detailed report from the agency says the Israeli military knew white phosphorus's lethal capacity to cause intense burns, and that the firing of it in airburst artillery shells revealed a "pattern or policy of conduct rather than incidental or accidental usage."



And the 71-page report reveals that the 15 January firing of phosphorus shells on or near the UN Relief and Works Agency compound in Gaza City, where 700 civilians were sheltering, continued for at least two hours after UN staff began making repeated telephone calls to the Israeli military asking it to stop. The shells caused an estimated $10m (£6.8m) damage and led to burning for 12 days after the attack.

While documenting cases in which civilians were burnt to death or severely hurt and civilian property set on fire, the report says that the majority of civilian deaths were not caused by white phosphorus but from other "missiles, bombs, heavy artillery, tank shells, and small arms fire".



But the HRW researcher Fred Abrams said senior Israeli commanders should be held account for its usage in violation of international law requirements to avoid civilian harm. While the use of phosphorus is permitted to hide troop movements in non-civilian areas, Mr Abrams added: "In Gaza, the Israeli military didn't just use white phosphorus in open areas as a screen for its troops. It fired white phosphorus repeatedly over densely populated areas, even when its troops weren't in the area and safe smoke shells were available. As a result, civilians needlessly suffered and died."



An airburst 155mm artillery shell spreads 116 white phosphorus wedges in a range of 125 metres, which ignites on contact with oxygen and burns at up to 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit until nothing is left or the oxygen supply is cut. When it comes into contact with skin it creates intense and persistent burns, sometimes down to the bone. HRW says an Israeli health ministry report produced during the 22-day military offensive in Gaza said that burns to 10 per cent of the body can be fatal because of damage to the liver, kidneys and heart.



Witness reports taken by HRW describe the killing of a bank manager, his wife and two of their children in their car during white phosphorus shelling in the Tel-el-Hawa area of Gaza City on 15 January. According to a Palestinian journalist, Fathi Sabbah, whose own building in the area came under attack, when ambulances came to take the bodies away from the partly melted car, they found "only a few bones" of the four occupants. The report quotes another witness, Muhammad Al Sharif, as saying that a piece of a skull and some teeth lay beside the car.



The report also highlights, among a total of six cases documented in which 12 civilians were killed, the deaths of five members of the Abu Halima family and the wounding of five others. These included the badly burnt Sabah Abu Halima 44, who lost three of her children, in the Siyafa village on the edge of Atatra in northern Gaza when a phosphorus-bearing artillery shell hit their house. The accounts given to HRW broadly corroborate those given by family members to journalists in Gaza in January, including from The Independent, which found one of the sour-smelling phosphorus wedges outside the house.



HRW says it found no evidence that Hamas was using civilians as human shields in the area at the time of the cases of white phosphorus shelling it examined. And it called on the United States, as the main supplier to Israel of white phosphorus munitions to investigate whether they were used in violation of international law. HRW says that of the white phosphorus shells it found in Gaza were made in 1989 Thiokol Aerospace, which was running the Louisiana Army Ammunition Plant at the time



The IDF orginally denied that it was using white phosphorus but later said that it use was in accordance with international law. The HRW report says that the apparently frequent use in cases where there were not even ground troops in the area "strongly suggests that the IDF [Israel Defence Forces] was not using the munition for its obscurant qualities but rather for its incendiary effect".



That was contested in an Israel Defence Forces response issued last night which said that the military's investigation of its use of "smoke shells" was close to conclusion and that based on the findings at this stage "it was already possible to conclude that the IDF's use of them was "in accordance with international law".



It added that claims of indiscriminate use were "baseless". It added that the third protocol on certain conventional weapons – though not signed by Israel – did not class "weapons used for screening" as "incendiary"



A burning issue: Weapon or flare?



White phosphorus, known as Willy Pete, ignites when exposed to the air. It is not banned by international law so long as it is used to create a smoke screen to protect advancing troops or to illuminate targets. However, the 1980 Geneva treaty stipulates it must not be used as an offensive weapon in densely-populated areas, where civilians can sustain severe burns.

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Latest News

Latest Sport

Latest Showbiz