US probes Israel strikes on Gaza civilians, white phosphorus use in Lebanon

US probes Israel strikes on Gaza civilians, white phosphorus use in Lebanon
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Fecha de publicación: 
15 February 2024
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The United States is investigating a series of Israeli air strikes in Gaza that killed numerous Palestinian civilians.

The State Department's inquiry adds pressure on US President Joe Biden to balance its support for Israel with mounting concerns about civilian casualties and potential misuse of US-supplied weapons.

The probe, revealed by The Wall Street Journal, focuses on whether Israel violated arms transfer agreements, with white phosphorus use a particular concern.

This comes as calls for sanctions and aid restrictions on Israel intensify in Congress, particularly among President Biden's own progressive base.

The investigation coincides with efforts to secure Hamas hostage releases and end the Israeli war.

Israel, despite US warnings, contemplates invading Gaza's southern Rafah city, raising fears of civilian endangerment.

One specific incident under observation by the US is an October air strike on the Jabalia refugee camp near Gaza City, killing over 125 people. US officials suspect a US-provided 2,000-pound bomb was used. The UN Human Rights Office also raised concerns it could be a war crime.

Progressives and some lawmakers urge revisiting the $3.5 billion annual aid, but without success so far.

Israel has killed over 28,000 Palestinians in Gaza — mostly women and children — and wounded 68,291 others while Tel Aviv threatens to invade Rafah, the last pocket with over 1.4 million Palestinians.

 

Use of white phosphorus

 

US officials are also investigating the potential use of white phosphorus, a banned incendiary weapon, during Israeli attacks in southern Lebanon last October, according to a US source who spoke to the Journal.

The US took action after Lebanon's state media reported the Israeli bombardment and complaints filed by the Lebanese government to the UN.

Lebanon's Environment Ministry claims soil samples from southern Lebanon showed elevated levels of white phosphorus exceeding US safety standards.

Minister Nasser Yassin said they are preparing to share these findings with the UN to support their complaint. The Israeli military maintains its use of white phosphorus complies with international law.

If misuse is confirmed, potential consequences by the US will be imposed, including aid cuts, use restrictions or new guidelines.

However, the State Department has said that this is not a mechanism for swift policy changes but rather a comprehensive review.

Israeli authorities haven't responded to the US probe, according to the WSJ.

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