Amnesty International has released evidence indicating the use of white phosphorus by the Israeli army in densely populated civilian areas in Gaza.
The organization's Crisis Response Program has collected compelling evidence documenting the use of white phosphorus artillery shells by the Israeli army in Gaza.
Videos and photos verified by Amnesty International's Crisis Evidence Laboratory show Israel's use of white phosphorus in Gaza, which has been under attack since October 7.
The evidence includes photos of M109 155 mm howitzers stationed in Sderot, near the Gaza border, stockpiling artillery shells labeled D528, the U.S. Department of Defense Identification Code for "white phosphorus-based munitions." The range of these howitzers puts the northern half of Gaza within their striking range.
Several videos on social media have shown northern Gaza being hit by white phosphorus artillery shells in recent days. The Crisis Evidence Laboratory, which confirmed images from various angles of these attacks on Gaza Port and nearby hotels, has also shared satellite images of the attack locations.
White phosphorus is prohibited for use in areas with dense civilian populations under international law due to its harmful effects. When inhaled, it can cause sudden lung injuries and suffocation. It can also cause second and third-degree burns on the skin, easily catching fire upon contact with oxygen. Fires caused by white phosphorus bombs can spread widely and continue until the substance is exhausted.
Treating those exposed to white phosphorus is challenging due to its contagiousness. Special training is required for medical personnel to protect themselves when treating injuries caused by the substance. Chronic exposure to white phosphorus can lead to advanced jaw bone deformation and fractures.
While there are no legal obstacles to using the smoke emitted by white phosphorus for purposes like camouflaging military units in open areas, debates continue over whether its use should be considered a war crime due to the harm it inflicts on individuals.
Israel has used white phosphorus before, as reported in the 2010 Human Rights Watch report on "Operation Cast Lead" in Gaza in 2008-2009. The report cited the use of ammunition containing white phosphorus in densely populated areas as a policy that led to violations of the rules of war.