Israel used US-provided white phosphorous munitions in an attack on southern Lebanon that wounded nine civilians, The Washington Post reported on Monday.
White phosphorous can be used by militaries as a smokescreen or as an incendiary chemical weapon that can burn buildings or human skin on contact, in some cases all the way to the bone.
A journalist working for the Post found the remnants of three 155mm white phosphorous artillery shells in Dheira, Lebanon, near the border with Israel. The white phosphorous incinerated at least four homes, and three out of the nine civilians who were injured in the attack had to be hospitalized.
The production code on the shells showed that they were produced in the US. It’s unclear if the white phosphorous ammunition was provided to Israel as part of the billions in annual military aid it receives each year from the US or if it is part of the new weapons shipments the Pentagon has been sending on a near-daily basis since October 7.
The Israeli military claims it only uses white phosphorous to create smokescreens to protect its troops, but there were no Israeli soldiers on the Lebanese side of the border when the incendiary weapon was fired on Dheira. Photos and videos verified by the Post showed white phosphorous falling on Dheira on October 16.
Rights groups are calling for the attack on Dheira to be investigated as a war crime. Human Rights Watch has said it also verified videos of white phosphorous being used in Gaza in October.
On October 15, a day before the Dheira attack, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan was asked about Israel’s use of white phosphorous, and he said it was not his job to draw “red lines” for the Israeli military.