Palestinian terrorists operating out of the Gaza Strip fired seven mortar shells into southern Israel on Friday, as local Jews were preparing for the Shabbat. Of particular note was that four of those shells were packed with white phosphorous.
There were no injuries caused by the phosphorous, but Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman instructed Israel’s envoy to the UN, Ambassador Meron Reuben, to file a stern formal complaint nonetheless.
Israel is angered by the lack of a UN response to the use of phosphorous shells by the Palestinians, after the UN-sanctioned Goldstone Committee made such a big deal of criticizing Israel’s use of white phosphorous during the 2008-2009 Gaza war. The committee’s accusations fueled widespread claims of alleged Israeli war crimes.
The truth is that white phosphorous shells, when used to create a smoke screen for troops or to mark enemy positions, are not prohibited under international law. But when used as an incendiary weapon, especially against civilian targets, white phosphorous shells are indeed prohibited.
During the Gaza war, Israel used US-made marker shells that even UN-aligned forces make regular use of. The intent was clearly to provide cover for Israeli troops and to mark Hamas positions. The same clearly cannot be said for the Palestinian use of white phosphorous on Friday.
CLICK HERE to read more about the threat of Gaza rockets, and how some Israelis are responding in a biblical way.