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IDF to phase out use of white phosphorus

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Israel Defense Forces said it would stop using shells containing white phosphorus, an incendiary weapon whose use may be limited under international law.

Phosphorus generally is used to set up smokescreens to hide troop movement. The material can cause serious burns.

International arms treaties forbid the use of incendiary weapons in civilian areas, but the chemical’s use in unpopulated areas to mask troop movements is not illegal under international law. During the three-week 2008-’09 war with Hamas in Gaza, Palestinian human rights groups said Palestinian civilians were severely burned by white phosphorus shells.

The IDF’s white phosphorus shells will be phased out over the next year and replaced with a gas, the IDF said.

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