UN: IDF used phosphorous weapons

Environmental assessment of Lebanon shows no signs of depleted uranium.

A UN team carrying out an environmental assessment of Lebanon after this summer's Israel-Hizbullah war confirmed that the IDF used artillery containing white phosphorous, but found no evidence of depleted uranium, a UN official said Tuesday. Achim Steiner, UN undersecretary-general and executive director of the UN Environment Program, said samples taken by scientists confirmed "the use of white phosphorous-containing artillery and mortar ammunition" by the IDF during the conflict. Last month, a cabinet minister said the army used phosphorous artillery shells against Hizbullah guerrilla targets during their war, confirming Lebanese allegations for the first time. The Geneva Conventions ban using white phosphorous against civilians or civilian areas, and Israel has said the weapons were used solely against military targets. Steiner also said the UN team found no evidence of penetrators or metal made of depleted uranium or other radioactive material. The assessment appeared to counter some media reports that suggested uranium-based munitions had been used during the monthlong war that ended on Aug. 14. "No depleted uranium shrapnel, or other radioactive residue was found. The analysis of all smear samples taken shows no depleted uranium, nor enriched uranium nor higher than natural uranium content in the samples," he said in a statement. Steiner said the UN team collected samples from Sept. 30 to Oct. 21 with one group focusing on munitions during the conflicts. Several samples were taken to three independent laboratories in Europe for tests, the statement said.