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Israel pledged to limit the use of munitions containing white phosphorus and make greater efforts to protect civilians during conflicts, in a report this week to the United Nations.

The Israeli military was roundly criticized for firing white phosphorus shells over densely populated areas during the Gaza offensive that began in late 2008.

White phosphorus ignites and burns, creating white smoke when it is exposed to oxygen. Militaries use it as a smoke screen to protect troops during combat.

If it comes in contact with skin, white phosphorus creates an intense and persistent burn.

In making the changes, Israel said it had done nothing wrong.

“The use of smoke-screening munitions containing phosphorus during the Gaza operation … was consistent with Israel’s obligations under the Law of Armed Conflict,” Israel said in the report.

Yet, as a result of “the lessons learned” in the aftermath of the Gaza offensive, the report said the Israeli military “is in the process of establishing permanent restrictions on the use of munitions containing white phosphorus in urban areas.”

Source: Ed Payne for CNN.

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