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France joins call on Israel to halt use of phosphorous arms

PARIS, Jan 12 (KUNA) -- France said on Monday that it was joining a call on Israel to halt the use of white phosphorous shells which can cause serious burns and are especially dangerous in built-up environments like Gaza.
Three days ago, the reliable NGO "Human Rights Watch (HRW)" reported that Israel had started using these weapons and several media recorded the driving plumes of smoke over Gaza as a result.
White phosphorous weapons are not forbidden in open battle field conditions but are not allowed against massed troops or civilian concentrations. If deliberately used in those cases they can fall into the category of chemical weapons.
Foreign Ministry spokesman in Paris, Eric Chevalier, recalled that "from a strictly legal point of view" the use of this weapon as a smokescreen "would be tolerated in principle according to international humanitarian law," although he pointed out the HRWs warning to the "dangerous effects" on the population.
"France joins the demand made by HRW to the Israeli authorities not to use these weapons, given their toxicity and the density of the population in Gaza, " Chevalier affirmed.
Israel has a poor record for signature and ratification of the various Conventions that govern chemical weapons, but has ratified a protocol on the use of toxic or poisonous gas.
But Israel has not ratified the Chemical Weapons Ban Convention or a similar protocol on incendiary arms like phosphorous. (end) jk.tg KUNA 121654 Jan 09NNNN