Israel Accused of ‘Blatant War Crime’ as Human Rights Watch Confirms White Phosphorus Used in Gaza

Yves here. We had included a tweet a couple of days ago alleging that Israel was using white phosphorus in Gaza and warned it was not confirmed. Now it has been. It’s not as if this the first time this has occurred in the region and by Israel in Gaza in particular.

But this isn’t surprising given views like this (I am derivatively breaking Lambert’s rule about the use possible or actual harm to babies as a talking point):

This incident occurs as Israel is engaging in unabahsed war crimes in the form of collective punishment, as in indiscriminate shelling of Gaza with the expressed aim of reducing it to a tent city, and cutting off water, electricity, and blocking food supplies. The flip side is that experts have said that the Israeli Defense Forces are going to have a very difficult and high-casualty task before them if the government sets out to clear Gaza. It will make Bakhmut look like a party.

By Brett Wilkins, a staff writer for Common Dreams. Originally published at Common Dream

Human Rights Watch on Thursday said it has confirmed reports that Israeli military forces unleashed white phosphorus munitions during artillery attacks on targets in Lebanon and Gaza this week, including over a heavily populated civilian area of the besieged Palestinian strip—an apparent war crime.

HRW said it has interviewed witnesses and verified video footage shot in Lebanon and Gaza on Tuesday and Wednesday “showing multiple airbursts of artillery-fired white phosphorus over the Gaza City port and two rural locations along the Israel-Lebanon border.”

The HRW announcement came as Israeli forces continue to bombard Gaza from air, land, and sea in an assault that has killed more than 1,500 Palestinians, including at least 500 children, in retaliation for Hamas’ surprise infiltration of Israel and killing of over 1,300 Israeli soldiers and civilians.

As HRW explained Thursday:

Upon contact, white phosphorus can burn people, thermally and chemically, down to the bone as it is highly soluble in fat and therefore in human flesh. White phosphorus fragments can exacerbate wounds even after treatment and can enter the bloodstream and cause multiple organ failure. Already dressed wounds can reignite when dressings are removed and the wounds are reexposed to oxygen. Even relatively minor burns are often fatal. For survivors, extensive scarring tightens muscle tissue and creates physical disabilities.

WP burns as hot as 1,500°F. Water does not extinguish it.

“Any time that white phosphorus is used in crowded civilian areas, it poses a high risk of excruciating burns and lifelong suffering,” HRW Middle East and North Africa director Lama Fakih said in a statement. “White phosphorous is unlawfully indiscriminate when airburst in populated urban areas, where it can burn down houses and cause egregious harm to civilians.”

“To avoid civilian harm, Israel should stop using white phosphorus in populated areas,” Fakih added. “Parties to the conflict should be doing everything they can to spare civilians from further suffering.”

HRW previously accused Israel of war crimes for using WP munitions in densely populated areas—including over a United Nations school—during the 2008-09 Operation Cast Lead invasion of Gaza. In response to a 2013 petition to Israel’s High Court of Justice filed by human rights groups including HRW, the Israel Defense Forces said it would no longer use WP in populated areas, with “very narrow exceptions” that it would not disclose.

Other countries’ militaries also use WP, most notably the United States, which fired the incendiary rounds during the 2004 battle for Fallujah and elsewhere in the so-called War on Terror.

In 2016, Saudi Arabia was condemned for allegedly firing U.S.-supplied WP munitions against Houthi rebels in Yemen. WP and other incendiary weapons have also been used by Syrian government and Russian forces fighting Islamic State and other militants during the Syrian civil war. Turkey has also been accused of firing WP rounds at Kurdish civilians in Syria.

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  1. truly

    I think Israel support (or lack thereof) in USA has reached a tipping point. In the past showing any sympathy towards Palestinians would immediately get you labeled as anti Semitic. This week while working in the hair salon I saw around 24 clients between Monday and Weds. At least half expressed sympathy with the Palestinian people. One client even expressed gratitude towards me that she knew she could tell me her sympathies, but was afraid to share them with others.
    Having followed this issue for years now, with most of my info coming from the anti war community, this current use of WP is not at all surprising. Israels war making tactics are rather predictable it seems. What they have done in the past they will do in the future.

    1. Feral Finster

      I wish that I could echo this observation. At least in the fire engine red area where I live, most people are all-in for Israel. Even the conservatives who were starting to get wise to war and empire have reverted to type as foaming at the mouth neocons, yea, like unto a dog who returneth to his own vomit.

      And the (few) liberals? Well, the less said, the better. .

      It amazes me, after the lies of the First War On Iraq, the War on Afghanistan, the Second War On Iraq, the War on Libya, the War on Syria all based on lies, all well within living memory, that humans fall for it, over and over again.

      And the same neocon crew instigating all of these wars.

        1. H. Alexander Ivey

          Bliss is having a job, especially one that 1. pays relatively well, 2. is morally right, 3. is also done by others in their communities. Hence military work – who do you think ordered the production of WP in the first place, China?

        2. The Infamous Oregon Lawhobbit

          Well, “Where ignorance is bliss, ’tis folly to be wise.”

          The blissful definitely do not like the wise disturbing their bliss, you are correct.

      1. Carolinian

        I grew up here in a Baptist culture and while not glory shouters or anything they do take all that stuff in the old testament seriously and teach it in Sunday school. So God smiting his people’s enemies is accepted as literally true and that version of Christianity seen as more a continuation of Judaism rather than a repudiation. This is convenient when it comes to doing some unsavory things (by our avowed modern humanism) because the Old Testament is full of it.

        All of which is to say that religious beliefs have a very great deal to do with Red state support for Israel. One would think the far more secular Dems would want to oppose this. One would think wrong.

        1. scott s.

          I would say its the opposite. In the US I think Baptists are heavily influenced by dispensationalism which sees Israel as continuing in time as God’s chosen people, while the (Christian) Church will be raptured.

          1. Carolinian

            I don’t think my Baptists were the rapture Baptists which seems to be a more recent trend. They were Billy Graham accept the Lord or else Baptists–more about the threat of Hell than details re Heaven.

            In any case my comment more in the spirit of speculation than expertise.

        2. rob

          Yeah, the old testament is ‘full of it” , alright.
          Moses never existed. There is no historical evidence of any jewish exodus.
          People ought to remember that Ahkenaten (father of king tut) was the first to espouse monotheism, over the religion of the day. Leaving the “old world” to create a new city in the desert…
          It isn’t a stretch to figure this is what the hebrews copied in creating their creation myths.

          god never promised them anything. And they were never the “chosen” people. And there is no reason to believe anyone ever “got” the 15… oy… 10 commandments. for all to obey.

        3. Es s Cetera

          There’s a commandment about killing and stealing which binds both the Jews and Christians.

          And there’s also the sermon on the mount which calls for Christians to turn the other cheek. Also somethng about the meek inheriting the earth (and the Gazans would distinctly fall into this category).

          These folks can’t even practice their own religions correctly.

      2. Nevermore

        People in the US have as much freedom of speech as in the Soviet Union. This is achieved through self censorship as you get singled out and become ostracized by the media and the people in power who want to push their narrative.
        So they choose to shut up and say nothing, we have become a nation of cowards.
        Look what happened to those students at Harvard, they had cars with their photos paraded around and you can be sure it will be in their record and their job prospects will take a hit. It’s same for almost everyone, we have no moral compass, only selfish economic interests.

    2. Joe Well

      Is there reliable polling broken down by age, region, race, religion, party affiliation?

      My gut feeling is that support is very positively correlated with age, evangelical Christianity, and “red America.”

      1. Vicky Cookies

        Can’t speak as to its reliability, but here is a Gallup poll from March of this year, showing a trend, driven by young people and Democrats, of increasing sympathy with the Palestinian perspective.

        Identifying the oppressor and the oppressed doesn’t seem like something which would be taught in American schools; assuming the polls’ reliability, I suspect alternative and social media drive this, as well as the international outreach and education by BDS and the Palestinian diaspora more generally.

        Of course, it remains to be seen if this sympathy will survive the propaganda blitz covering for this second Nakba.

  2. The Rev Kev

    Maybe this was the point of those Hamas raids. To force the Israelis to drop their masks and to show the world what they were all about. So no more ‘the only democracy in the middle east’ or having ‘the most ‘moral army in the world.’ You have to be pretty far gone in the head to agree that cutting water and food from a people is a moral thing to do as that is a war crime in capital letters. I found it ironic where some text in that Sky News video clip said that Netanyahu was saying that Hamas should be treated like ISIS. When ISIS actually had a border with Israel they both had very friendly relations with each other and not only did the Israelis give them arms and ammo, but their medics went into their territory to retrieve their wounded to take back to Israeli hospitals for treatment. The guards on both sides were filmed greeting each other like old friends and the one time a ISIS team dropped a few mortar rounds into Israel, ISIS leaders went to Israel to personally apologize for that mishap. And you know that I am making none of this up.

    1. Dr. John Carpenter

      I’ve wondered this too. I’m no expert. I’ve only been casually following things, though I’ve brushed up a lot since the raids. Trying to force Israel’s hand in a way that can’t be ignored is one reason I’ve considered for what happened.

      Depressing situation anyway.

    2. Feral Finster

      “To force the Israelis to drop their masks and to show the world what they were all about. So no more ‘the only democracy in the middle east’ or having ‘the most ‘moral army in the world.’ You have to be pretty far gone in the head to agree that cutting water and food from a people is a moral thing to do as that is a war crime in capital letters.”

      If that was the point, it isn’t working. At least from what I see, most are cheering this on like it was an especially stupid Marvel Comic Universe movie.

        1. Feral Finster

          I get your point, but my words “At least from what I see, most….” should make it clear that I wasn’t conducting a global poll.

          1. mrsyk

            Whom you are seeing would make excellent detail. I haven’t had the courage yet to ask a stranger what they think. My family near and far for the most part is pretty well informed of the state of play. Our younger son took some work. He’s a fire performer on the rave circuit. He’s (rightfully) absolutely distraught over the slaughter of that crowd. As he describes it, the vast majority of people who regularly attend raves are looking to escape the madness of our surroundings. However, he’s fully aware two wrongs do not make a right, a idea that will become more and more apparent to more and more people as the second wrong grows and grows and spawns more and more wrongs.
            n = tiny, but that’s what I’m seeing on the ground.

    3. Freethinker

      ……telling people packed in a concentration camp to ‘move within 24 hours because we’re going to level it’

      1. rob

        I don’t think it’s fair to call gaza a “concentration camp”. It is more like a “ghetto”

        The catholic church first created “ghettos’ for jews, making them wear the star, in italy in the 1800’s. Napolean let them out when he took over italy.
        And more recently, the “ghettos” in poland, where the germans were keeping the jews, until they finally over ran them with soldiers. That is a good analogy , I think; to what the isreali’s are doing to gaza.
        The isreali’s are the nazi’s , now.

          1. Sibiriak

            Seems like a high-tech prison, not a ghetto. The Guardian:

            Beginning with a detonation from what appeared to be an anti-tank guided missile, members of Hamas’s special forces – Nukhba – quickly moved to secure entrances to the complex and to the access gate used by the Israeli military to enter Gaza during incursions, engaging Israeli forces in their watchtowers set into the wall.

            In one shot a body can be seen lying on the ground in a concrete-lined tunnel. The surprise was total.

            The aim of militants at Erez and other key locations along the Gaza border, as has become clear since Hamas launched its murderous rampage through southern Israel, was to decapitate the ability of Israel’s security forces to communicate with each other.

            Videos posted to Hamas social media sites showed the militants moving quickly to engage Israeli vehicles that could stand in their way, including the apparent disabling of a tank hit by a munition dropped from a drone near the border fence.

            On motorbikes, by car and on foot, bristling with weapons, a first wave of 400 Hamas militants poured across the border into Israel at the 15 points where they had breached the security barrier.

            And in the space of a few hours, a wall and fence system costing billions of dollars to build, and designed to prevent being tunnelled under, equipped with a vast array of cameras and motion sensors , had been well and truly breached.

            1. rob

              so, the ghetto’s of poland , in @1940, where the jews were forced into confined areas, bricked in and would be shot if they left the area.. doesn’t sound like gaza… hmmmm?
              But yeah.. an open air prison.. that works too.

          2. rob

            well, concentration camps didn’t have any exit. They didn’t have an apartment, or a hospital,or stores, etc. I’m not minimizing the plight of palestinians there.
            It is hyperbole to call gaza a concentration camp. Maybe it is a “concentration zone”… or something to differentiate from the historical term of concentration camp.
            A prison camp, even. would fit. The “open air prison” is good.

          3. rob

            I believe you are thinking of a ghetto like we have had in places like bedford styvesant. in brooklyn or in urban areas in the US… as opposed to the “ghetto’s of poland and eastern europe like in warsaw where jews,poles,roma,etc.. were forced into small confined areas, bricked and barbed wired in, and shot if they escaped.

            OOPs, that was a reply to Yves above.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              The use of the term “ghetto” by Nazis to marginally pretty up their internment of Jews and other undesirables is not consistent with its origins or prevalent use of the term. From Wikipedia:

              A ghetto is a part of a city in which members of a minority group live, especially as a result of political, social, legal, environmental or economic pressure.[1] Ghettos are often known for being more impoverished than other areas of the city. Versions of such restricted areas have been found across the world, each with their own names, classifications, and groupings of people.
              The main square of what was once the Venetian Ghetto in Italy (2013)

              The term was originally used for the Venetian Ghetto in Venice, Italy, as early as 1516, to describe the part of the city where Jewish people were restricted to live and thus segregated from other people. However, other early societies may have formed their own versions of the same structure; words resembling ghetto in meaning appear in Hebrew, Yiddish, Italian, Germanic, Old French, and Latin. During the Holocaust, more than 1,000 Nazi ghettos were established to hold the Jewish populations of Europe, with the goal of exploiting and killing European Jews as part of the Final Solution of Nazi Germany….

              The character of ghettos has varied through times. The term was used for an area known as the Jewish quarter, which meant the area of a city traditionally inhabited by Jews in the diaspora. Jewish quarters, like the Jewish ghettos in Europe, were often the outgrowths of segregated ghettos instituted by the surrounding authorities. A Yiddish term for a Jewish quarter or neighborhood is Di yiddishe gas (Yiddish: די ייִדדישע גאַס), or ‘The Jewish street’. Many European and Middle Eastern cities once had a historical Jewish quarter.[citation needed]

              Jewish ghettos in Christian Europe existed because of majority discrimination against Jews on the basis of religion, language and dated views on race: They were considered outsiders. As a result, Jews were placed under strict regulations throughout many European cities.[8]

              In some cases, the ghetto was a Jewish quarter with a relatively affluent population (for instance the Jewish ghetto in Venice). In other cases, ghettos were places of terrible povert. During periods of population growth, ghettos (as that of Rome) had narrow streets and tall, crowded houses. Residents generally were allowed to administer their own justice system based on Jewish traditions and elders


              1. rob

                I would say that the nazi’s connection to the word ghetto , in their versions, are actually consistant with the original “ghettos”, in italy.
                The catholic church, decreed, with a papal bull that jews be confined to certain parts of various cities. In the papal bull of 1555, where they created the ghetto of rome, the jews were forced to pay for the building of the walls to keep them in. They were allowed out during the day, but had to go back at night, and wear clothing to let everyone know who they were..
                This is an example of state sponsored terror. this was also during a period of hundreds of years of inquisition by the catholic church, where jews and other non-aligned christians and muslims, were persecuted,tortured,killed,etc.
                This is why I feel It is an acceptable description. Not that everyone has to agree. sorry for the digression. Except that this form of state sponsored terror, is at the heart of this plight of the palestinians.

          4. Freethinker

            Thanks …..actually, I used to use the term prison camp until someone pointed out that for you be a prison camp you had to have nominally committed a crime, not just have been born something deemed ‘wrong’ by those with the power of life or death over you. As for the West bank, I spent a few years in S. Africa at the end of apartheid & anyone who was there can list the qualifying criteria in Israel today.

        1. Freethinker

          There is a lesser known example of concentration camp than the notorious nazi ones, where villagers were interned ‘for their own protection’ so they’d be unable to help freedom fighters. Civilians in these camps were guarded, with movement controlled, food, shelter & medical care limited so people died slowly enough for the authorities to claim it was natural. It was in East Timor under Indonesian rule when Western countries again turned a blind eye, thereby collaborating with the powerful player in the dispute, because greed, hypocrisy, apathy.

          1. Fireminer

            The Americans tried that in Vietnam too. It was called the Strategic Hamlet Program. A father-in-law of a cousin who migrated to the South once lived in such a camp. From what he told me, life in that place was harrowing and only made the villagers supported Viet Minh even more.

    4. ISL

      IMHO, I think the idea was to ensure Israel enters the Gaza despite it being illogical, to use Hezb’llah techniques on the IDF – Israeli hubris remains dominant – and to drag Hezb’llah in, though if the IDF keeps using white phosphorus in Lebanon, Gaza fighting may not be needed to drag them in. Once Hezb’llah destroys all israeli airfields, the IDF will find itself on the defensive, without an economic base to support its military (and the US cupboard is getting empty).

    5. playon

      If that was the point of Hamas attacking they were awfully willing to sacrifice countless civilians. Perhaps they thought that taking hostages would make a difference – if so then they were mistaken.

    6. Es s Cetera

      What I’m seeing is that the anti-war left which has been silent or supportive of Ukraine, gone full on pro-war, had completely forgotten about the plight of the Palestinians, seems to have woken from deep slumber and remembered at least the foggy outlines of what should have been their own stance.

      It’s annoying because they’ve compromised their own logic. You can’t on the one hand condemn Donetsk, Luhansk and Crimea seeking to defend themselves from attacks on Russian-speaking civilians for the crime of not being Ukrainian, creating laws which divests them of their language, culture and rights, and then also defend Palestine and Israeli-Arabs against the same from Israel for not being Jewish. Ukraine wants to set up a Ukrainian only state minus Russian-Ukrainians, Israel wants to set up a Jewish only state minus Palestinians. Ethnic cleansing takes the same form no matter who is doing it.

      Hopefully this will help people sort out their own broken and contradictory logic, realign with what should be their own principles.

    1. juno mas

      This comment appears to be drive-by snark. Not cogent at all. What I’m going to do about it? Ignore the commentor forever!

      1. Feral Finster

        I would say that Cristobal made a legitimate point.

        We are ruled by humans who se behavior is indistinguishable from that of sociopaths. Pointing out hypocrisy or evil intent to a sociopath is as pointless as quoting Bible verses to an armed robber.
        The robber will laugh in your face, delighted in your impotence.

        Reward and punishment are the language that the sociopath understands.

        A .357 held to the head of said robber and the sure knowledge that you will pull the trigger without hesitation elicits a somewhat different response.

      2. Alice X

        There is a point that might be had, imo. The US could stop the carnage in a minute, but they (we) won’t.

        Debbie Dingell, my congress person, represents the largest Muslim population in the US. I suspect she might be on board with a demand for a cease and desist order. There are several others, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, but how many others?

        1. Feral Finster

          Will they dare to cross Team D and Biden? From what I have seen, I doubt it,

          Now, if Team R were in the White House, they might be much less publicly and blatantly war-horny. But since Biden is Team D…..

          1. James Cole

            Team D and Biden are impotent. It’s the military industrial complex that is calling the shots and if you cross the MIC, you end up outcast or worse, like Assange, Snowden, Taibbi, etc.

            1. JonnyJames

              Both factions of the D/R dictatorship have unconditionally supported Israel, DT included. And crudely speaking, they both represent the ruling oligarchy, which includes MIC

      3. Cristobal

        I was expressing the attitude of those perpetrating this war crime (too mild a term. Monstrosity is better). The impunity those people enjoy is infuriating!

  3. RookieEMT

    I am not an expert in chemical weapons, just trying to clarify. Looking at footage in Ukraine, Russia loves using incendiary shells supposedly filled with thermite. They help in setting off explosive traps, start fires in trenches, and illuminate the area (according to a pro-russian tweet). It doesn’t seem to cause much smoke.

    Does the extremely bright light that rests on the ground give away that the weapon is thermite?

    White Phospherous on the other hand creates thick white smoke. I am guessing that exposure to any of the white smoke causes horrific chemical burns versus touching the burning thermite which would also causes severe burns.

    A great source of confusion.

    1. RookieEMT

      According to Wikipedia, willy p (white phosphorus) smoke isn’t so deadly except in high concentrations.

      Just like thermite, you have to be exposed directly to white phosphorous from the ammunition (bright burning particles) to get the horrific burns.

      The only visible difference is smoke creation.

      So yeah, be in a trench. Be in a bunker.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        WebMD does not agree:

        White phosphorus bombs are incendiary weapons. That means that along with their destructive explosive power, they can spread fire.

        In this case, the fire is made from burning phosphorus, which burns at about 1,500 F. White phosphorus bombs can spread this fire over an area up to several hundred square yards. And the phosphorus continues to burn until it is all gone. All it requires is the presence of oxygen, which is in the air.

        White phosphorus bombs can cause injuries that are more serious and harder to treat than injuries from conventional bombs. Medical professionals need special training to deal with these types of injuries and to protect themselves from phosphorus burns during treatment.

        White phosphorus bombs can have a worse effect on human health than other weapons of similar explosive power.

        On the skin, white phosphorus causes very painful burns that may be second-degree (partial thickness of skin) to third-degree (full thickness of skin). The burns typically have a yellowish color and a garlic-like odor. You may notice smoke coming from the injury as the white phosphorus continues to burn.

        In addition, because white phosphorus dissolves easily in fat, it gets absorbed easily through the skin and into the body, where it can cause other serious symptoms.

        In fact, burns from white phosphorus on less than 10% of your body could lead to death because of damage to the kidneys, liver, and heart.

        1. RookieEMT

          “The only visible difference is smoke creation”.

          I meant the literal, visual difference between identifying a white phosphorous attack and a thermite attack when it deploys.

          Not trying to downplay the insidious nature of the chemical weapon.

      2. Nevermore

        It is the most terrifying death , as you are boiled alive from inside with no remedy, I would rather be skinned alive than endure white phosphorous burn.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      Russia uses thermobaric shells usually in its very last stage of clearing operations. Yes, they are very nasty but generally the kill close to instantly by evacuating all the air:

      The TOS-1A heavy flamethrower system is designed for providing fire support to infantry and tanks, defeating enemy manpower from open and closed firing positions in a variety of offensive and defensive combat, as well as disabling light armored vehicles and transport. Combined target destruction is achieved through effects of high temperature and overpressure.

      Russia takes some care not to use them against civilian tartets.

      1. Synoia

        Sorry to correct you, but it is Oxygen which removed, or consumed, from the air and any where else, like flesh and blood by thermobaric devices in a fierce chemical reaction. The reaction is not quite an explosion.

        I was under the impression that its use is or was a war crime.

        I observe that the Jews people have Con cured the “promised Land” a number ,of times.

        One when lead by Moses.
        A second after the Assyrians capture the people.
        A third after the Romans depopulated the country
        Under these rules the Indians in the US should have the Americas
        A Number of atrocities were perpetuated against the British IN ww2.

        On whose authority did The US recognize Israeli as a Country at the end of the British Mandate?

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Wikipedia begs to differ:

          A thermobaric weapon, also called an aerosol bomb, or a vacuum bomb,[1] is a type of explosive munitions that work by dispersing an aerosol cloud of gas, liquid or powdered explosive….

          Most conventional explosives consist of a fuel–oxidizer premix, but thermobaric weapons consist only of fuel and as a result are significantly more energetic than conventional explosives of equal weight.[4] Their reliance on atmospheric oxygen makes them unsuitable for use under water, at high altitude, and in adverse weather. They are, however, considerably more effective when used in enclosed spaces such as tunnels, buildings, and non-hermetically sealed field fortifications (foxholes, covered slit trenches, bunkers).

          The initial explosive charge detonates as it hits its target, opening the container and dispersing the fuel mixture as a cloud.[10] The typical blast wave of a thermobaric weapon lasts significantly longer than that of a conventional explosive.

          They are also not prohibited, so their uses against military targets is not a war crime:

          Attempted prohibitions

          Mexico, Switzerland and Sweden presented in 1980 a joint motion to the United Nations to prohibit the use of thermobaric weapons, to no avail.

          United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research categorizes these weapons as “enhanced blast weapons” and there was pressure to regulate these around 2010, again to no avail.

          1. The Infamous Oregon Lawhobbit

            Wikipedia is (as it sometimes isn’t) correct. Note, also, that there is a difference between a thermobaric bomb (see also “fuel air explosive” and “exploding grain silos”) which disperses an aerosol and then ignites it to create the effect, and thermite, which is a mix of … stuff … that burns at an incredibly high temperature. Thermite grenades will melt through an engine block and are commonly used for disabling equipment.

            Not sure that thermite is used in artillery rounds – I’m open to being enlightened – but they weren’t on my list of things I could pick up the radio and call for. White phosphorous, on the other hand, was.

    3. R.S.

      > Looking at footage in Ukraine, Russia loves using incendiary shells supposedly filled with thermite.

      If it looks like a rain of shooting stars falling slowly from the sky, then it’s magnesium.

      A typical incendiary rocket for Grad (9M22S) looks something like this. This one is most probably Ukrainian, but both sides use the same Soviet type. Those dull hex-rod pieces are made of standard industrial magnesium alloy.
      (The image from a HRW memorandum of 2017

    4. redleg

      WP smoke does not cause burns unless you happen to be next to the burning phosphorous. It’s not particularly pleasant, but similar to campfire smoke on your eyes, etc.

        1. redleg

          Targeting civilians and collective punishment are both war crimes.
          Using WP munitions is only a war crime if used against civilians. Targeting the port structure with WP is not a war crime. Targeting the port structure with any sort of munition while the port is teeming with civilians trying to get away is a war crime.
          WP is not a chemical weapon avoiding to the CWC et al., it’s considered an explosive or incendiary, so focus must be on the many actual war crimes that are currently being committed.

          1. JonnyJames

            Exactly. I agree that WP is not the real issue, it’s using it against occupied populations under siege. The links above provide reports of doctors treating civilians with WP injuries.

  4. hemeantwell

    A number of writers have established that Bibi publicly stated a policy of supporting Hamas to undermine Fatah and to create an opponent who could be portrayed as impossible to negotiate with. This fleshes out the criticism of Bibi made by Haaretz immediately after Saturday’s attacks — hoorah for them — and polls are already indicating Bibi will be gone after the fighting ebbs, though just when that will be is very unclear. A question that arises is what will be the response of the Israeli right to the breakup of their disaster-producing political formation. They killed Rabin in 1995; the disappointment and outrage they will feel as they lose power now will make that period look tranquil.

    The exposure of Bibi’s shaping of the Palestinian adversary parallels NATO’s shaping of Russia’s response set. While NATO didn’t literally create a segment of the Russian elite that opposed negotiations, over decades they destroyed the credibility of any grouping that would try to pursue them. In both cases this led to a militarized outcome filled with bloody shirts to wave. My hopium of the day is that this parallel may open more eyes.

  5. Feral Finster

    “See, Israel has this Extra Special White Phosphorus that only they know about and that only kills Bad People.”

    I am waiting for some TeeVee talking head or Israel enabler to spout something like this.

    If Russia were to clear Ukrainian cities using industrial scale white phosphorus, the howls of outrage would be deafening. But since Israel is America’s Special Pet….*crickets*

    1. chris

      We’ll probably see Christiane Amanpour sniff a elementary student’s back pack and confim that the child was killed using the special WP, therefore it was a good kill…

  6. nippersdad

    In watching that clip of Naftali Bennet it was simply wild to see him compare Gazans to Nazis. Looking at some of his stuff on Google, that appears to be one of his go-to rationales. There are no Gazan Panzer divisions about to roll into Tel Aviv after an Anschluss by the Gazan air force, and it is pretty obvious that there never will be.

    Projection is such a routine thing these days, but he is in the process of jumping the shark for all to see.

    1. Mo

      My thought was that Bennet was hoping to get the presenter to respond by comparing the Israelis themselves to Nazis, as the Israelis are the ones running a concentration camp. Then of course the presenter would have been fired immediately.

      But the presenter handled himself very well I thought.

      Also, did Bennet invite outsiders to deliver power and aid to Gaza? He should be taken up on that offer by outside countries.

  7. sharonsj

    Every time there’s talk of collective punishment against the Palestinians, I want to know why no one brings up the collective punishment forced upon the Jews in every Muslim country. Nearly all “Arab” Jews (Jews who lived in Muslim countries for centuries) have all been forced out and their property confiscated. In the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, it’s only the Palestinians who call for a world-wide intifada against all Jews. You do not see Jews in other countries random attacking Palestinians. Oh, and let us not forget that the Palestinians are not interested in a two-state solution. Their stated aim is to have one state with no Jews in it.

    1. Cristobal

      I was expressing the attitude of those perpetrating this war crime (too mild a term. Monstrosity is better). The impunity those people enjoy is infuriating!

    2. Feral Finster

      “You do not see Jews in other countries random attacking Palestinians…”

      Because they don’t need to.

      Same with all your other attempts to muddy the waters.

    3. ilsm

      what countries?

      do they treat christians and Hindus differently?

      if I took a lucrative job in the kingdom I would not bring in scotch, or gin

      shame on israel a terror state!

    4. rob

      I have never heard that jews were intimidated by their neighbors, anywhere in the muslim world. What evidence do you have of this? Christians have had more historical “beef” with jews. (400ad-1945ad) Not muslims.
      You have to provide an example of this. Please.

  8. Freethinker

    The real message out of this for a rogue country is to get nuclear capacity as fast as possible, they you can do whatever the hell you want, all international rules, treaties, understandings, pacts are now meaningless

  9. Onward to Dystopia

    I’m so disgusted with the country I live in right now, I can’t even watch the news. I get up today, my partner left the tv on darn it, and the first thing I see before I managed to turn it off, they’re talking about how George W Bush calling for blood as if he’s somebody to be listened to. Unbelievable. He oughta be happy he wasn’t charged with war crimes himself. Every politician and presidential hopeful is lining up to foam at the mouth and spew bloodlust. Then I see people on social media upset about The Speaker™ situation. The US Capitol is probably the most disgusting place on the face of the earth, I hope they never find a speaker. All they want to do is help Israel commit genocide and flush billions down a nazi infested hellhole toilet. Rant over.

    1. Rip Van Winkle

      Not saying what I think of any of these names, but very interesting video can be found (title – Gaza War Day 5 – cozy tv, episode 1233) a couple of days ago with Nicholas Fuentes critiquing Ben Shapiro critiquing Tucker Carlson (who was interviewing Vivek R.) on each’s U.S. perspective of the matter.

      My take: not my circus, not my clowns.

  10. Aurelien

    OK, I think what we are dealing with here is a mouthful entitled “Protocol III to the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons which may be deemed to be Excessively Injurious or to have Indiscriminate Effects” which Israel has acceded to but not ratified. The text is here. This is the Protocol against “Incendiary Weapons,” and the question is whether, in customary international law, it would be an offence to use white phosphorous at all. The text says that prohibited weapons do not include “(m)unitions which may have incidental incendiary effects, such as illuminants, tracers, smoke or signalling systems.” My impression is that white phosphorous probably falls into that category.

    However, this is a bit beside the point. The Geneva Conventions state clearly that “only military targets may be attacked.” Attacks on the civilian population, or which are indiscriminate in that they put that population at risk, are forbidden whatever the weapon used.

    1. hk

      In full agreement. Commenters here with artillery background (redleg, I think?) have noted that white phosphorous is not necessarily much worse than “conventional” rounds (I imagine debating the properties of different explosives is liable to muddy up a lot of things) then proceeded to make the same point you raised: the real problem is not so much which side is using what kind of shells, but that they are knowingly and willfully shooting into civilian areas which is a war crime regardless of what kind of shells they are using. I think people getting into details about specific types of weapons and whether X is a war crime or not (and implicitly conceding that using Z (!=X) is not) is a dangerous argument and should not be raised if the point is to condemn the “real” war crime.

      1. redleg

        Targeting civilians is a war crime. Collective punishment is a war crime.

        A WP wound is probably worse that a fragmentation wound from an HE round, but what’s the point of qualitatively analyzing wounds when the focus should be on preventing wounds in the first place, i.e. ending and preventing wars. I don’t understand how the focus is not on preventing and ending war, documenting and prosecuting the obvious war crimes such as targeting civilians, but is instead pointing at use of WP as THE war crime when it isn’t. It’s like the few anti-war advocates with a megaphone are intentionally and willfully discrediting themselves.

        Targeting was my MF-ing job. I know the weapons and the rules in minute detail. Factual errors propagated in a cause I support only makes the cause less effective. These wars need to stop before is too late.

  11. Polar Socialist

    I wonder if the ICC judges will issue arrest warrants for Netanyahu and the rest of Israeli government? This may not be on the same level as taking kids to summer art camps like Putin did, but certainly Israel is violating the article 7 of the Rome statutes.

    And sometimes you just need to keep up appearances of impartiality and try to deflect accusations of Euro-centricism….

  12. Glen

    I’m not try to thread jack here because all aspects of current events need to be reported and discussed, but I cannot help but conclude that at some point here much of the world is almost unknowingly edging towards what we call total war.

    Total war

    I feel like our elites are sleep walking much of the world into a real ugly situation. I guess I get to go back and read up on how WW1 started, and how those elites just assumed it would be no big deal.

    As much as the guy was a complete ba$tard, I wouldn’t mind having a current day equivalent of Kissinger running around trying to make a deal and put a lid on this thing, but our current elites seem to be picking sides like this is going to be some sort of kindergarten playground fight with little to no regard to the long term consequences to even their own country.

  13. Freethinker

    …..also, apparently due to the demographic profile of the Palestinians in the Gaza concentration camp, about half of the population is under 20 years old. So with the West & anyone under their influence giving carte blanche to the carpet bombing of 2,3 million trapped in a cage, they are effectively assuming all adults are combatants & additionally killing ~ a million children or babies, who are clearly not. It will be interesting then to see how they will be received from now on when Westeners go around the world hypocritically continuing to preach about ‘democracy, freedom, good christian values, peace & how to be civilised vs savages’.

    1. JonnyJames

      That reminds me of the infamous Madeleine Albright reply to the question is the deaths of half a million Iraqi children worth the price? “we think the price is worth it”

  14. ArvidMartensen

    People who have been exposed to evil* as victims, always run the risk of becoming their abusers and inflicting evil on others. It is the saddest consequence of victimisation.
    [evil* = anyone who purposefully hurts others physically or emotionally or financially due to sadistic tendencies(getting pleasure out of the pain of others) or vindictiveness (getting revenge on others for real or imagined sins) or entitlement (I am entitled to take everything you have)].

    And the largest known group of victims exposed to evil in the 20th century were those killed, and their surviving families and friends, in the nazi genocidal concentration camps in WWII.

    And a great many surviving relatives and friends and descendants live in Israel today. Their history means they have run the risk of becoming what hurt them. They have risked becoming genocidal themselves.

    And since Israeli people keep voting for a government that has mercilessly dispossed and killed another ethnic group over the past decades, then it can be argued that they have indeed turned into their abusers.

    1. You're soaking in it!

      “I and the public know
      what all schoolchildren learn
      those to whom evil is done
      do evil in return . . .”

  15. redleg

    Use of WP munitions is not illegal per the Chemical Weapons Convention or any other of the conventions and treaties that establish the Law of War. Using WP as a general use munition does not constitute a war crime. The specific use of WP is the war crime, not using WP in general.

    Certain uses of WP weapons are illegal, such as using an incendiary munition (WP is one) against civilians like what Israel is doing right now. That’s a war crime. Firing WP at a military target is not.
    Keep in mind that Israel cutting off power and water to Gaza is also a war crime. There are a whole litany of war crimes being committed by Israel right now, but simply using WP munitions to conduct combat operations is not one of them.

  16. begob

    Side note: can anyone link to reliable figures for the population of Gaza? Mercouris insists on 3.5 million; most other sources I pay attention to say 2 million.

    1. Polar Socialist

      The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East estimates 2.1 million.

      Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics estimates 2.17 million – in 2022, with 4% growth rate it would be 2.25 now.

      Sorry for not linking, my phone’s copy & paste kinda sucks.

    1. caucus99percenter

      Oopsie, off-topic, sorry, everyone — this was supposed to go onto Water Cooler as a general FYI.

  17. Victor Sciamarelli

    The only viable option to solve this problem is the two state solution. If not on the table, however, there is broad international support and it should be reiterated at every opportunity.
    The crucial issue is Israel’s foreign policy which is committed to the pursuit of a greater Israel and which is enabled by US support. Israel’s border must be defined and a Palestinian State created in Gaza, West Bank, and East Jerusalem.
    Accusing Israelis of racism and war crimes or the Palestinians of terrorism and war crimes, regardless of any evidence, will do nothing. Starving people is not new as the British blockade of Germany in WW1 attempted to do just that. But when you’re at the point of dropping white phosphorus on human beings and killing civilian hostages then something needs to be done.
    The details over security and a Gaza-West Bank corridor can be more easily negotiated when the goal is peace and stability. Above all, pressure has to come from Americans to force their own government to fully support the two state solution.

    1. rob

      If I was the King of something,
      My starting point for negotiations would INSIST on the state/country of ISREAL be “un-chartered”, and be called “Palestine” once again.
      I would start the negotiation with the isreali’s that they have lost the moral right to HAVE a jewish state, since they have abused the power every decade since the zionist terrorists made the deal with the british colonialists in 1948.
      I would advance an idea that maybe the palestinians should once again rule their homeland. With the express concern that they allow the jews to live there, and be treated as equals. Maybe the palestinians are better people than the zionists, and would peacefullt co-exist with these immigrants to their country.
      then on the way during the negotiation, the last possible way the isreali’s could “hold onto anything”, would be to allow the UN peace-keepers to control the interior of the country of palestine, and no jewish only police could be created to oppress the “rightful” members of the region.

  18. i just dont like the gravy

    Israel made a series of unforced errors this past week.

    I’d be surprised if the country still exists in its current form by 2030.

    1. Freethinker

      Unlikely, the US (& obviously their European vassals) would go without food before they’d let their favourite child run out of all the lethal weaponry its heart desires…..

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