Update: Phosphorous & Fair Reporting
JERUSALEM - The Israeli army dropped phosphorous bombs on Hezbollah guerrilla targets during their war in Lebanon this summer, an Israeli Cabinet minister said Sunday, confirming Lebanese allegations for the first time.Ha'aretz and the BBC made no mention of the fact that phosphorous was used on military targets. Ha'aretz even refused to acknowledge the fact that phosphorous is legal unless used on civilian targets. However it would appear that MSNBC deserves to be commended for telling the full story, this time.
Until now, Israel had said it only used the weapons — which cause severe chemical burns — to mark targets or territory, according to Israeli media reports.
But Cabinet Minister Yaakov Edri said Israel used the weapons before an Aug. 14 cease-fire went into effect, ending its 34-day war against Hezbollah. Edri said he was speaking on behalf of Defense Minister Amir Peretz, according to his spokeswoman, Orly Yehezkel.“The Israeli army holds phosphorous munitions in different forms,” Edri said. “The Israeli army made use of phosphorous shells during the war against Hezbollah in attacks against military targets in open ground.”
The Lebanese government accused Israel of dropping phosphorous bombs during the war. Edri did not specify where or against what types of targets the bombs were used.
White phosphorous is a translucent wax-like substance with a pungent smell that, once ignited, creates intense heat and smoke. The Geneva Conventions ban using white phosphorous against civilians or civilian areas.
The United States acknowledged last year that U.S. troops used white phosphorous as a weapon against insurgent strongholds during the battle of Fallujah in November 2004, but said it had never been used against civilian targets.
Israel is a signatory to the Geneva Conventions. The Israeli military said in July its use of weapons “conforms with international law” and it investigates claims of violations based on the information provided.