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Israel strikes Gaza Strip using white phosphorus munitions: Monitor

Smoke trails from an Israeli strike are visible over the besieged Gaza Strip on October 11, 2023. (Photo by AFP)

Israel is using banned white phosphorus munitions against desperate people in the tightly-besieged Gaza Strip, a human rights monitor says, as the impoverished small territory has been under ceaseless bombardment by the occupying regime for the past five days.

In a post on X on Thursday, Maha Hussaini, director of strategies at the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor in Geneva, said that the Tel Aviv regime was “using internationally-prohibited white phosphorus in Gaza.”

“These munitions are an indiscriminate incendiary weapon that ignite on contact with oxygen. In closed spaces, the toxic fumes can cause asphyxiation & permanent respiratory damage,” she added.

A day earlier, the health ministry in the Gaza Strip confirmed the regime's deployment of banned white phosphorous munitions against a densely populated neighborhood in the coastal sliver, stressing, “Israeli warplanes use internationally #prohibited_white_phosphorus, destroying al-Karama neighborhood.”

Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency, citing unnamed medical sources in Gaza, reported on Wednesday that Israel, earlier in the day, had targeted the western port area of Gaza with several white phosphorus bombs, resulting in hundreds of cases of suffocation.

The use of white phosphorus shells for direct targeting of enemy positions is prohibited under the 1980 Geneva Convention, which explicitly forbids their use against both humans and the environment, stressing that the practice can amount to war crime and cause widespread fatalities.

This is not the first time that Tel Aviv has targeted the territory with such weapons.

Israel admitted to “using munitions containing white phosphorus” during its 2008-2009 war on Gaza, but the regime denied violating international law by insisting that such weapons were not fired into areas populated by civilians.

Israel launched deadly strikes on the Gaza Strip on October 7, after the resistance movement Hamas waged the surprise Operation al-Aqsa Storm against the usurping entity.

Hamas says its operation came in response to Israel’s violations at al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East al-Quds and growing settler violence.

UN: 650,000 Gazans face dire water shortages

Separately on Thursday, the United Nations humanitarian office (OCHA) said that Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip since Saturday has inflicted damage on over 12,600 homes in the coastal territory.

It added that 1,000 of these homes were flattened and another 560 housing units sustained serious damage, which rendered them uninhabitable.

Many people in the impoverished sliver face dire shortages of water, fuel and medical supplies, as all 13 hospitals there are only partially operational due to severe shortages of fuel and crucial medical supplies.

It said that the reduction in water supplies due to Israel's tightening its siege on the strip has resulted in dire water shortages for more than 650,000 people in the territory of 2.3 million.

As sewage systems have been destroyed, fetid wastewater is sent into the streets and posing a health hazard, OCHA added.

No water, fuel for Gaza until Israeli captives return: Minister

In a statement on Thursday, Israeli energy minister Israel Katz said no basic resources, including electricity and fuel, or humanitarian aid would be allowed into Gaza until Hamas releases all Israelis it captured.

“Humanitarian aid to Gaza? No electric switch will be turned on, no water tap will be opened and no fuel truck will enter until the Israeli abductees are returned home,” he said on X.

As of Thursday, more than 1,200 people have been killed and thousands more wounded in five days of Israeli airstrikes on Gaza, a besieged territory on the Mediterranean.

The United Nations human rights chief on Tuesday warned that Israel’s imposition of a total blockade on the Gaza Strip amounts to a war crime and violates international law.

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