The White House is investigating claims that Israel employed white phosphorus, provided by the U.S., in Lebanese attacks. These allegations, initially brought forth by Lebanon and later substantiated by a Washington Post investigation, have raised significant concerns. The Post’s analysis revealed that shell fragments from a recent attack were of U.S. origin. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby confirmed the administration’s awareness and concern, emphasizing the need for further inquiry.
While international law forbids using white phosphorus as a chemical weapon, it permits its use for battlefield illumination and smoke screens. Kirby stated that any military aid, including white phosphorus, is expected to be used lawfully and for legitimate purposes. He reiterated the U.S.’s commitment to lawful armed conflict conduct.
Recent reports by the Washington Post highlighted injuries to nine civilians in southern Lebanon, possibly due to an Israeli attack using U.S.-supplied white phosphorus. Journalistic investigation uncovered U.S.-manufactured artillery round remnants, dated between 1989 and 1992. In a statement dated October 31, Lebanon accused Israel of deploying this incendiary weapon in multiple assaults, leading to significant destruction, including the burning of 40,000 olive trees.
The U.S., a strong ally of Israel, seeks to prevent the conflict from escalating across the region, particularly into Lebanon. Kirby underscored this point while expressing his concerns about the reported use of white phosphorus. Additionally, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller highlighted the ongoing search for more information, stressing that civilian harm from white phosphorus usage would be a grave concern for the U.S.