Table of Contents
How bad are white phosphorus burns?
White phosphorus causes severely painful, partial (second degree) to full thickness (third degree) burns, which have a characteristic yellow color and garlic-like odor. Smoke may release from the burn site from the continued burning of white phosphorus or the formation of phosphoric acid.
Is white phosphorus illegal in warfare?
Determining that it is illegal to use a certain weapon in armed conflict requires a positive showing of its treaty- or customary-based prohibition. White phosphorus is often incorrectly labeled as an “incendiary weapon” or a “chemical weapon.” Under the LOAC, it is legally neither.
Was white phosphorus used in the Vietnam War?
White phosphorus munitions were used extensively in Korea, Vietnam and later by Russian forces in the First Chechen War and Second Chechen War. White phosphorus grenades were used in Vietnam for destroying Viet Cong tunnel complexes as they would burn up all oxygen and suffocate the enemy soldiers sheltering inside.
How much white phosphorus was used in Vietnam?
Late in the war, some of these bombs used white phosphorus (about 1–200 grams) in place of magnesium as the igniter for their flammable mixtures. The use of incendiary weapons against civilians was banned by signatory countries in the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons Protocol III.
Why did Israel use white phosphorus?
Israel has insisted that its use of white phosphorus in the conflict was permitted under international law and that it sought to avoid unnecessary civilian deaths in Gaza. As a weapon, white phosphorus is used to mark enemy targets and to produce smoke for concealing troop movements.
Why is white phosphorus unethical?
Due to its dehydrating action, white phosphorus is a highly corrosive substance . For military personnel, materials as white phosphorus present a high risk for burns from incendiary shells and detonators  and such injuries warrant the expertise of experienced military burn surgeons.
Is white phosphorus the same as napalm?
Napalm is the most notorious incendiary substance, but it is only one of more than 180. White phosphorus munitions cause particularly severe injuries, including chemical burns down to the bone.
Does the US Army still use white phosphorus?
White phosphorus munitions can be used for several purposes on the battlefield: as an obscurant or smoke screen, for signaling and marking, and as an incendiary weapon. US forces are using white phosphorus in both Mosul, in Iraq, and in the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa, in Syria.
Does white phosphorus burn underwater?
White phosphorus is highly reactive, and spontaneously ignites at about 30°C in moist air. It is usually stored under water, to prevent exposure to the air. It is also extremely toxic, even in very small quantities. (See Hazard warnings below.)
Does Israel use white phosphorus?
Israel’s military has denied the use of white phosphorus in attacks on Gaza. Because white phosphorus has legal industrial uses, it is not restricted. But under international law, it is considered an incendiary weapon, and prohibited from being used against military targets located among civilians.
Does Palestine use white phosphorus?
Israel’s military has denied the use of white phosphorus in attacks on Gaza. This comes after hundreds took to social media claiming the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) were using the toxic munitions against Palestinians in the coastal enclave. Because white phosphorus has legal industrial uses, it is not restricted.