Israeli Army to Stop Using White Phosphorus

Will Ditch Incendiaries After Embarrassing 2009 Incidents

The Israeli Army has issued a statement today announcing that it is ending the use of white phosphorus, and will be replacing the incendiary shells with gas-based shells for smoke-screening.

Israel came under considerable criticism in 2009 for its repeated use of white phosphorus against populated areas in the Gaza Strip, despite bans against doing so in international law.

Israel initially denied but later admitted the use after a particularly embarrassing incident in which they attacked a UN headquarters full of civilians in the Gaza Strip with the incendiaries, setting the building on fire and destroying humanitarian aid within.

Israel got the white phosphorus rounds from the United States, which is the only nation in the Northern Hemisphere that even still makes the mostly banned shells.

The Convention on Conventional Weapons only bans the use of white phosphorus in populated areas, and theoretically still allows for its use in vacant areas, which has allowed a handful of militaries to keep them. Unfortunately, this limited ban has often left those militaries using them with impunity during wartime as though it didn’t exist at all, as Israel did in Gaza and as the US still does in Afghanistan.

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.