The undersigned human rights organizations strongly condemn the
Israeli Supreme Court’s reply to a petition filed by human rights organizations
to prevent the Israeli military from using white phosphorous in built-up areas.  They believe that the court’s decision leaves
the door open for continuing the use of white phosphorous in built-up areas in
the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), extremely endangering the lives of
the civilian population. 

 

On 09 July 2013, the Israeli Supreme Court accepted the pledge
presented by the Israeli public prosecution, representing the State, to abstain
from using white phosphorous against civilians, excluding in exceptional
cases.  Details of such cases were
classified as confidential and were not made available to the petitioners or
the public, which do not practically ban the use of white phosphorous in
built-up areas in the future, but this time by the consent of the highest
Israeli judicial body.

 

The undersigned organizations point out that white phosphorous is
an inflammable chemical compound that causes second and third degree chemical
burns once the skin is subjected to it. 
It also seriously endangers the lives of civilians, and may cause death
if it is touched, inhaled or swallowed as it contains poisonous substances. 

 

According to reports of Palestinian human rights organizations, the
Israeli military extensively used white phosphorous during its offensive on the
Gaza Strip in the period 27 December 2008 – 18 January 2009 (“Operation Cast
Lead”).  The Israeli military used white
phosphorous bombs against civilian persons and facilities in Khuza’a village,
east of the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Yunis; Tal al-Hawa neighborhood in
the southwest of Gaza City; and the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahia. As
a result of the use of white phosphorous bombs in populated areas and against
civilian shelters at UNRWA schools, 12 Palestinian civilians were killed.  Some facilities were also burnt, including
UNRWA’s main warehouses, the buildings of al-Quds and al-Wafa hospitals, the
office of Palestine Red Crescent Society in Gaza City and an UNRWA school in
Beit Lahia.

 

The report of the UN Fact-Finding Mission on the Conflict in Gaza
(Goldstone Report) observed in detail the Israeli military’s use of white
phosphorous bombs, thus confirming reports of human rights organizations.  The report stated: “…The Mission finds that
the Israeli armed forces were systematically reckless in determining its use in
built-up areas.”  It also recommended
Israel to seriously consider banning the use of white phosphorous in built-up
areas. 

 

The undersigned organizations reiterate their condemnation of the
continued legal cover provided by the Israeli Supreme Court for Israeli crimes
against Palestinian civilians, and calls upon the international community,
especially the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions, to fulfill
their legal obligation to provide protection to Palestinian civilians and to
exert pressure on Israel to completely ban the use of white phosphorous in
built-up areas.

 

 

 

Al Haq

Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights

Al Dameer Association for Human Rights

Palestinian Center for Human Rights