A Collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh

Rights group accuses Israel of war crimes through white phosphorous use

[JURIST] A fact finding team for human rights group Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy group] on Monday accused Israel of war crimes [press release], citing the use of white phosphorous [GlobalSecurity backgrounder] in the midst of a dense civilian population. White phosphorous is a highly explosive substance that can burn into human skin and muscle and can cause serious wounds as well as death. The fact finding team found still-burning particles of the substance near residential buildings and in streets and alleyways. Israel has maintained that all the weapons employed during their three-week siege in Gaza are within the scope of what is allowed by international law. Both the UN and Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] have already called for Israel to stop firing white phosphorus shells [HRW press release] in Gaza. AI has said that Israel's continued use of the substance despite awareness of its effects constitutes a war crime.

Last week, International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official profile] said that the ICC has no jurisdiction [JURIST report] to investigate possible war crimes committed by Israel in Gaza. Moreno-Ocampo's statement came after calls by the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) [advocacy website] for the UN Security Council [official website] to refer Israel to the ICC [press release] for an investigation. Moreno-Ocampo said the court currently lacks jurisdiction over Israel because it is not a member state.

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.