South Lebanon White Phosphorus: Statement

23 April 2024

The IHL Centre expresses deep concern regarding the escalation of cross-border hostilities in southern Lebanon. Specifically, the IHL Centre highlights the unlawful use of white phosphorus in populated areas which was repeatedly reported, including recent incidents in Khiam and other regions.

Under International Humanitarian Law (IHL), all parties involved in the conflict bear the responsibility to limit human suffering resulting from armed conflict. The binding rules of IHL mandate that parties must avoid indiscriminate attacks and refrain from using weapons that cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering. White phosphorus, whether categorized as an incendiary or chemical agent, falls into both prohibited categories and is strictly forbidden for use in populated areas or against individuals.

To ensure compliance with IHL, parties to the conflict must consistently distinguish between civilians and combatants, as well as between civilian objects and military objectives. When identifying a military target for an attack, precautionary measures should be taken to minimize harm to civilians and civilian infrastructure. This includes carefully selecting means and methods of warfare to prevent incidental loss of life, injury, damage to civilian objects, and unnecessary suffering.

The IHL Centre will keep monitoring the situation closely and calls upon all parties to the conflict to adhere to IHL rules.

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