But the chemical substance can also stick to skin and cause potentially fatal burns and respiratory damage. Its use could violate international law if its used intentionally as a weapon against civilians, according to the World Health Organization.
Reports in October accused Israel of using white phosphorus in the area, and rights group Amnesty International said the matter should be investigated as a war crime. The Post reported that at least nine civilians were injured in the attack.
Markings on the rounds show that they were made in Louisiana and Arkansas in 1989 and 1992, per the analysis. Other markings, including the letters “WP,” indicate the chemical substance was present.
Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder, a Pentagon spokesperson, told reporters Monday that the U.S. hasn’t provided Israel with white phosphorus rounds since Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7.
Kirby stressed that the munitions aren’t intended to be used to harm people.
“Obviously, anytime that we provide items like white phosphorus to another military, it is with the full expectation that it will be used in keeping with those legitimate purposes and in keeping with the law of armed conflict,” he said.
Israel’s possible use of the chemical substance in a civilian area could ramp up pressure on the Biden team, which has faced calls from lawmakers and those in the administration to rethink the current level of U.S. support for its ally.
In the past month, Democrats in the House and Senate have discussed how to create conditions for future military aid, including weapons transfers, to Israel — a measure the Biden administration hasn’t seriously considered.
Lara Seligman contributed to this report.