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Israel to probe white phosphorus use in Gaza

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[January 21, 2009]  JERUSALEM (AP) -- The Israeli army says it has launched an internal investigation into allegations about its use of white phosphorus weapons during its offensive in the Gaza Strip.

White phosphorus is an incendiary agent used to illuminate targets or create smoke screens. International law does not prohibit its use in battle, but it can inflict serious burn wounds.

InsuranceU.N. officials and human rights groups have alleged Israel used it in the 22-day Gaza campaign against the territory's Hamas rulers. Amnesty International has called Israel's firing of white phosphorus shells in densely populated residential areas of Gaza a war crime.

Israel has not publicly acknowledged using white phosphorus. But in response to the claims, the military said in a statement Wednesday that an "investigative team has been established ... to look into this issue."

[Associated Press]

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed

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