Monday, January 12, 2009


White Phosphorus.



Bad, bad stuff.

I read a news report on CNN today that really disturbed me. The report says that the group Human Rights Watch has accused Israel of firing munitions containing White Phosphorus into Gaza.

For those of you unaware of WP's uses and effects, it does a number of different things, all pretty nasty:
  • It is used as an incendiary (explosive) device
  • It is used to produce smoke for the purpose of obscuring enemy forces
  • It is used as an anti-personnel weapon
One of WP's properties is that it burns at a very high temperature, and when the smoke is inhaled or the WP itself makes contact with skin the burn factor is also very high. Second and third-degree burns are the least damage it will do. Because of this, while it is legal to use as an anti-personnel weapon against combatants, it is not legal and specifically spelled out in the Chemical Weapons Convention that WP not be used against civilians in any way. In fact, the Convention states a ban on their use....

If Israel is indeed using WP against Gaza and civilians are being injured and killed by it, then it needs to stop. I understand that Israel is doing what it believes is necessary to stop an insurgency, but with the numbers of civilians caught in the middle, they need to find ways to let the innocent out.

It's not that Israel is acting on its own to cause all of this misery. Hamas is doing its share of things that are no better than what Israel is doing. Hamas, in fact, is especially good at making those living in the affected areas in Gaza into human shields.

To get an idea of the effect WP has on human skin, this is what it looks like:

(Photo courtesy of BBC World Service)


AlexD said...


Willie Pete is nasty as h*ll. We (FMF Corpsman) used Copper Sulfate to contain the burning embers and remove them. But then again Israel could be using the mother of all bombs. Eh. Great Post Marine.

Alex ~D~

TOTWTYTR said...

Given Hamas' proclivity for using civilians (especially women and children) as shields for their heroic fighters, it's hard to avoid some civilian casualties. Israel is using a great deal of restraint and is even making calls to people's cell phones in target areas ahead of attacks. You can imagine what that does in terms of increasing the risk to their forces.

CNN has a long history of bias against Israel, so I'd be very skeptical of their story on this.