The barrage came as part of the assault on Hamas by the Israeli Defense Force (IDF), during which the Gaza Division Commander, Brigadier General Eyal Eisenberg, and former Givati Brigade Commander Colonel Ilan Malka ordered artillery units to fire at areas near a United Nations’ compound, where 600-700 Palestinians were seeking refuge. The white phosphorus rained down on the UN Relief and Works Agency location, causing a fire to break out and burning several people.
Israel reportedly used the white phosphorus to provide a smoke screen for IDF soldiers engaging Hamas fighters. In response to the UN’s Goldstone report, which concluded that both Israel and Hamas committed war crimes during the fighting, Israel admitted the attack was a violation of its rules of engagement.
The two officers will not be demoted. The reprimand will be noted on their records and could keep them from receiving future promotions.
During the war in December 2008-January 2009, more than 1,000 Palestinians were killed, as were 13 Israelis.