US Sold Phosphorus Shells to Israel

Among Israel's Most Condemned Tactics in Gaza Was Enabled by Arkansas-Made Rounds

The Pine Bluff Arsenal, a United States Army installation in Arkansas, specializes in chemical and biological weapons. The military touts them as the only facility in the Northern Hemisphere which fills white phosphorus munitions. That’s the important point here, as it once again ties the US military directly into the Israeli war in the Gaza Strip, and one of its most unseemly practices.

State Department officials told the Associated Press that the United States provided Israel with white phosphorus rounds, and photos taken during the Israeli conflict show the military readying rounds with Pine Bluff Arsenal serial numbers.

The use of white phosphorus is not in and of itself a war crime, and is generally considered acceptable as a means of obscuring troop movements or illuminating areas. Its use in civilian areas however, even if not directed at the civilian population, is banned under the Geneva Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. Preliminary investigations show indisputable evidence that Israel used white phosphorus in some of the most densely populated portions of Gaza, and still burning fragments were found after the war ended wedged into civilian buildings.

The Israeli military officially denied using such munitions during the war, though they eventually conceded to it. Their official story now is that the use was not illegal and that Hamas was the one committing war crimes by provoking such attacks. The treaty prohibits the use of such weapons against military targets in civilian regions however, and makes no exception allowing the nation violating it to transfer blame to others in case they really wanted to hit those targets.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.