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Is America guilty of aiding Israel in its alleged use of white phosphorous in Gaza?

October 22, 2023: Outrage is slowly building over allegations that Israel may have used white phosphorus in Gaza and the potential connection of this ghastly war crime to the United States.

Israel has been accused of using white phosphorus in Gaza during the ongoing conflict, which would be a violation of international law. Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International have released reports documenting the use of white phosphorus by the Israeli military in densely populated civilian areas.

Amnesty International found that some of the white phosphorus artillery shells used by the Israeli army had a label with the US military’s identification code for white phosphorus-based rounds (D528). Experts suggest that the presence of a US identification code does not necessarily imply that the US manufactured the specific rounds in question, as Israel and the US have intertwined military relationships, and Israeli arms manufacturers sometimes use American nomenclatures and codes.

While it is not clear whether the US supplied the white phosphorus rounds used in Gaza, experts acknowledge that the US has provided such rounds to Israel in the past. White phosphorus is a highly incendiary substance that can cause severe burns and is prohibited for use in densely populated areas under international law.

International law requires a clear distinction between the targeting of armed groups and civilians, and the indiscriminate use of white phosphorus in populated areas could constitute a war crime. It is quite difficult to establish legal liability for this crime due to uncertainty regarding when the shells were transferred and whether policymakers knew how they would be used.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has an active investigation into alleged war crimes in the State of Palestine, extending to the current conflict.

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