White Phosphorous Mortars Fired from Gaza into Israel
Kassam rocket also launched at Ashkelon electric plant.
Several of the nine mortars fired from Gaza into Israel on Wednesday contained white phosphorous, according to Israeli police statements.
A police spokesperson told the Jerusalem Post that two phosphorous mortars hit southern Israel. No injuries or damage to property has been so far reported.
"A police bomb disposal team examined a number of mortars that were fired today. We can confirm that two out of the nine mortars contained phosphorous," said Micky Rosenfeld.
Israeli police told the newspaper that this was not the first time phosphorous mortars were launched into Israel from Hamas-controlled Gaza.
White phosphorous weapons are banned by the Geneva Convention.
“They cause burns among victims and they kill. This is an agricultural area, and we now have to explain to farmers how to deal with burns in light of the phosphorus mortars," the leader of the Eshkol Regional Council, Haim Yalin, told the Jerusalem Post.
Bomb disposal teams are in the region examining the mortars. They have confirmed that the weapons contained white phosphorous, CNN is reporting.
Also on Wednesday, a Kassam rocket exploded in southern Ashkelon in an industrial area close to a major electric power plant that sends electricity to the area as well as Gaza.
Emergency responders in the Eshkol Regional Council area are now preparing for further phosphorous attacks. "We are preparing to go back to the situation that we faced before Operation Cast Lead, when we faced continuous mortar, rocket and sniper attacks," said Yalin who is preparing a letter to the United National that will inform them of the phosphorous shelling being directed at civilians in the area.
"So long as this autonomous Iranian entity in Gaza continues to exist, we will be fired on. We have received only fundamentalism from Gaza and fire," Yalin said. "There are 50,000 residents who live in this area who are thirsty for peace and a normal life. And we face a Hamas entity that is unwilling to recognize Israel. We are civilians, farmers, students, all being fired on indiscriminately."
He noted that most of the residents of his region live on kibbutzim or farming villages and are left and centrist voters who yearn for peace with the Palestinians. “Unfortunately it is disappearing before our eyes.”
White phosphorous creates white smoke when it comes into contact with oxygen. However, it also creates terrible burns when it hits skin. It is used by militaries as a smoke screen to shield combat troops.
Israel was criticized internationally for using shells containing white phosphorous during the Gaza war in 2009. In a July report to the U.N., Israel promised to curb its use of phosphorous shells in order to protect civilians during military operations.
Israel responded to the series of rocket attacks with an air strike near Rafah, in southern Gaza. Eyewitnesses said a tunnel worker was killed and several others injured, according to Haaretz.
The renewed mortar fire from Gaza appears to be part of an effort to disrupt direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians that started this month.