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Did Israel violate Geneva Conventions?

With the recent admission by cabinet minister Jacob Edery that Israel used phosphorous bombs in the Second Lebanon War the question is being tossed around - did Israel break international law? A short answer, no. Despite attempts by the mainstream media to depict Israel as having engaged in war crimes, no war crimes were committed by the Jewish State. The use of phosphorous bombs is not outlawed in the Geneva Conventions. The Geneva Conventions, instead, outlaw the use of phosphorous bombs against a civilian population. Just like they outlaw the use of any weapons against a civilian population. Israel used phosphorous weapons against military targets, which is completely legal. The real outcry is from liberal "human rights" (pro-terrorist) groups and governments who don't like to see Israel defend herself.

However, the very existence of Hezbollah as an armed group is against international law (UN Resolution 1559) . So is Hezbollah's main tactic, launching rockets indiscriminately into civilian centers. Yet more attention has been placed on Israel's use of legal, but questionable, weapons than on the blatantly illegal actions of a terrorist group.

Let's look at a few examples of distortion in the mainstream media.

From Israel's liberal, self-hating Ha'aretz newspaper:
At the same time, soldiers in the artillery corps testified that the IDF used phosphorous shells, which many experts say is prohibited by international law. According to the claims, the overwhelming majority of the weapons mentioned were fired during the last ten days of the war.
Many experts say that phosphorous shells are prohibited by international law? Which experts are these? Even the BBC, notorious for its bias against Israel, admitted that the use of phosphorous weapons only violated international law if used against civilian populations:
The Geneva Conventions ban the use of white phosphorous as an incendiary weapon against civilian populations and in air attacks against military forces in civilian areas.
So which is it? Two anti-Israel newspapers contradicted one another. Is phosphorous against international law or only illegal when used against civilian populations?

Nowhere in the Geneva Conventions does it explicitly outlaw phosphorous weapons. Rather, phosphorous weapons are limited in the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. Protocol III limits the use of incendiary weapons. Phosphorous can be considered an incendiary weapon. Keep in mind the Geneva Conventions do not outlaw incendiary weapons, but only limit their use. Here is the full text of Protocol III:
  1. It is prohibited in all circumstances to make the civilian population as such, individual civilians or civilian objects the object of attack by incendiary weapons.
  2. It is prohibited in all circumstances to make any military objective located within a concentration of civilians the object of attack by air-delivered incendiary weapons.
  3. It is further prohibited to make any military objective located within a concentration of civilians the object of attack by means of incendiary weapons other than air-delivered incendiary weapons, except when such military objective is clearly separated from the concentration of civilians and all feasible precautions are taken with a view to limiting the incendiary effects to the military objective and to avoiding, and in any event to minimizing, incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians and damage to civilian objects.
  4. It is prohibited to make forests or other kinds of plant cover the object of attack by incendiary weapons except when such natural elements are used to cover, conceal or camouflage combatants or other military objectives, or are themselves military objectives.
So unless Israel used phosphorous weapons on civilian targets, military targets located within a concentration of civilians not clearly separated from the concentration of civilians, didn't attempt to limit the incendiary effects or minimize incidental loss of life or damage to civilian objects, or burned down forests with incendiary weapons, then it wasn't illegal.

Israeli cabinet minister Jacob Edery made it clear that phosphorous weapons were used only against military targets in open areas. By the criteria listed in the Geneva Conventions, Israel's use of phosphorous was one hundred percent legal.

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