RAMALLAH, May 13 (JMCC) - Israel has told its High Court that its military will stop using white phosphorus artillery shells in populated areas, save for two exceptions that were not put on the public record, reports
The IDF has decided to avoid the use in built-up areas of artillery shells containing white phosphorus, with two narrow exceptions, the state said in an announcement to the court.
Yuval Roitman, who represented the state in the petition, added: This “has been decided in the IDF as a matter of policy … even though this is not a commitment in a legal sense.” The state’s decision emphasizes that while this is current IDF policy it could change in the future.
The petitioners argued that the state's announcement is insufficient to render their petition unnecessary.
Justice Hanan Melcer said the exceptions mentioned, which were submitted to the court but not entered into the transcripts, “really are narrow.”
The petition, submitted in 2011 by attorneys Michael Sfard and Emily Schaeffer, demanded a prohibition on the use of artillery shells containing white phosphorous in urban environments. It noted that the IDF used such munitions in the Gaza Strip during Operation Cast Lead, in late 2008 and early 2009. One of the complaints against Israel during this military operation concerned the use of these shells, which human rights organizations say constituted a war crime that caused scores of deaths and casualties.