[JURIST] A fact finding team for human rights group Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy group] on Monday accused Israel of war crimes [press release], citing the use of white phosphorous [GlobalSecurity backgrounder] in the midst of a dense civilian population. White phosphorous is a highly explosive substance that can burn into human skin and muscle and can cause serious wounds as well as death. The fact finding team found still-burning particles of the substance near residential buildings and in streets and alleyways. Israel has maintained that all the weapons employed during their three-week siege in Gaza are within the scope of what is allowed by international law. Both the UN and Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] have already called for Israel to stop firing white phosphorus shells [HRW press release] in Gaza. AI has said that Israel's continued use of the substance despite awareness of its effects constitutes a war crime.
Last week, International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official profile] said that the ICC has no jurisdiction [JURIST report] to investigate possible war crimes committed by Israel in Gaza. Moreno-Ocampo's statement came after calls by the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) [advocacy website] for the UN Security Council [official website] to refer Israel to the ICC [press release] for an investigation. Moreno-Ocampo said the court currently lacks jurisdiction over Israel because it is not a member state.