US Won’t Draw ‘Red Lines’ on Israel’s Use of White Phosphorus Munitions

Human Rights Watch says it verified videos of Israel using white phosphorus in Gaza and Lebanon

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Sunday that the US would not draw any “red lines” over Israel’s alleged use of white phosphorus munitions, a chemical weapon that can cause severe burns.

Human Rights Watch has said it verified videos of Israel using white phosphorus on Gaza and Lebanon on October 10 and 11. According to HRW, white phosphorus can be used “either for marking, signaling, and obscuring or as a weapon to set fires that burn people and objects.”

In an interview on NBC News’ Meet the Press, Sullivan noted that the Israeli military denied the allegations but made clear the use of the chemical weapon wouldn’t impact US support for Israel.

“I have seen the reports of that. The IDF has actually come out and said they were not using phosphorus bombs. I’m not going to sit here… and draw red lines,” Sullivan said. “I was asked this same question at the White House podium a few days ago, and I said, ‘You know, it’s not my job in public to draw red lines.'”

Whether deployed for marking or as a weapon, the use of white phosphorus munitions in a densely populated place like Gaza risks harming civilians. When it comes in contact with the skin, white phosphorus can burn people all the way down to the bone. According to HRW, even minor burns are often fatal.

“The use of white phosphorus in densely populated areas of Gaza violates the requirement under international humanitarian law to take all feasible precautions to avoid civilian injury and loss of life,” HRW said.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.