Sheera Frenkel and Michael Evans
January 14, 2009
Pressure grew on Israel to end the use of controversial white phosphorus yesterday as The Times saw more evidence of its deployment around civilian populations in Gaza.
More than 50 people with burns were taken into Nasser Hospital in the southern town of Khan Yunis, in what the hospital director, Youssef Abu Al-Reesh, said was a massive case of exposure to white phosphorus.
“We don’t have the medical experience to judge these cases, but we searched the internet according to the cases we have, and it indeed confirmed that it’s white phosphorus munitions. I have been working in this hospital for ten years and I have never seen anything like this.”
The 1980 Geneva treaty says that white phosphorus should not be used as a weapon of war in civilian areas, but there is no blanket ban on its use as a smokescreen or for illumination. It produces a thick white smoke when exposed to oxygen, but can cause severe burns and melt flesh to the bone if it comes into contact with skin.