IDF to limit white phosphorus use

Israel responds to Goldstone in post-Cast Lead report to UN.

operation cast lead (photo credit: Associated Press)
operation cast lead
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Israel has committed to reduce the number of civilian casualties in future wars in a new response to the Goldstone Report released by the Foreign Ministry.
The IDF has committed to a number of operational changes in its combat doctrine to minimize civilian casualties, including restricting the use of white phosphorous and integrating a Humanitarian Affairs Officer in each combat unit, as well as defining new regulations regarding the destruction of private property when necessary.
In addition to the report, the Foreign Ministry released an interview with the head of its international law department, Arthur Lenk, explaining the reasoning behind the IDF's decisions.
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The report, titled "Gaza Operation Investigations: Second Update," also mentions criminal investigations into the actions of IDF soldiers, and the establishment of a commission assigned to examine Israel's mechanisms for investigating alleged violations of the international Law of Armed Conflict, which is led by retired judge Yaakov Turkel.
"Israel's numerous investigations have produced significant results, particularly during the last several months," the report said. "Israel's Military Police Criminal Investigative has opened...47 criminal investigations into specific incidents relating to the Gaza Operation." The report mentions two IDF soldiers who were indicted for putting a Palestinian minor at risk, and a soldier who is supected of kiling a Palestinian civilian.
"In addition to the criminal indictments of IDF soldiers, the Military Advocate General has not hesitated to pursue discipline of senior military officers, including a Brigadier General and a Colonel in one case, and a Lieutenant Colonel in another," the report added.
The report also addresses an incident in which the IDF used "smoke-screen munitions containing white phosphorous" in an UNRWA field office compound, injuring three and causing significant property damage.
"The investigation did find that the actual damage to the compound as a result of the smoke-screening shells was more extensive than the IDF had anticipated," the report explained. "Following reports of the damage, the IDF immediately imposed revised restrictions on the use of smoke-screening munitions containing white phosphorous near sensitive sites. These restrictions were in place through the remainder of the Gaza Operation."
In addition, "the IDF is in the process of establishing permanent restrictions on the use of munitions containing white phosphorus in urban areas," according to the report.
In order to prevent future civilian casualties, "the new written procedures require the assignment of a Humanitarian Affairs Officer integrated in each combat unit beginning at the battalion level and up," the report added. The Humanitarian Affairs Officers' responsibilities include "advising the commanding officer and educating the soldiers with regard to: the protection of civilians; civilian property and infrastructure; the planning of humanitarian assistance; the coordination of humanitarian movement; and the documentation of humanitarian safeguards employed by the IDF."
The 37-page report was delivered to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday, Reuters reported.
The United Nations has not reacted to the Israeli report.