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Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Israel accused of 'reckless' use of white phosphorus

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. More

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