Amnesty International’s Crisis Response Programme gathered compelling evidence documenting the use of white phosphorus artillery shells by the Israeli army in densely populated civilian areas in Gaza, many of which may be considered unlawful indiscriminate attacks.
Following the attacks on civilians in Israel by Hamas and other armed groups on 07 October, the Israeli army has been bombarding Gaza at an unprecedented rate. Videos and photos verified by Amnesty International’s Crisis Evidence Lab indicate that Israel has been using white phosphorus ammunition.
White phosphorus is an incendiary substance mostly used to create a dense smoke screen or mark targets. It burns at extremely high temperatures when exposed to air, and can continue to burn inside flesh. It causes horrific pain and life-changing injuries, and cannot be put out with water.
On 09 October, the Israeli Defence Forces positioned M109 155mm Howitzers next to the city of Sderot, which had been previously attacked by Hamas and sits about one kilometre away from the Israel/Gaza border fence.
Several of these verified photos show M825 and M825A1 artillery shells, which are also labelled D528, the US Department of Defense Identification Code (DODIC) for white phosphorus-based rounds.
M109 howitzers have a range of approximately 18-22km. From Sderot, this puts the northern half of the Gaza Strip within range.
In recent days, several pieces of video evidence suggest the use of 155mm white phosphorus artillery shells in northern Gaza. In particular, the Crisis Evidence Lab team was able to verify the attack that took place on Gaza harbour and nearby hotels, as can be seen in this video, posted on October 11.
Read the full analysis and article on Amnesty’s Citizen Evidence Lab website.
Previous reports by Amnesty International on violations and crimes committed in the context of fighting between Israel and Palestinian armed groups can be found here.
Read more about the current situation
Amnesty International is an impartial human rights organization and seeks to ensure that all parties to an armed conflict comply with international humanitarian law and international human rights law. Accordingly, in future briefings, Amnesty International will be investigating Israel’s military action in the Gaza Strip to determine whether it is complying with the rules of international humanitarian law, including by taking necessary precautions to minimize harm to civilians and civilian objects and refraining from unlawful attacks and from collective punishment of the civilian population, as required under international law. Amnesty International will also continue to monitor the activities of Hamas and Palestinian armed groups.
Top image: SDEROT, ISRAEL – OCTOBER 09: A view of an ammunition as Israel tightens measures by the army, police and other security forces after Hamas launched Operation Al-Aqsa Flood in Sderot, Israel on October 09, 2023. (Photo by Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)