More recently, it has been reported in the UK Times Online that the Israel Defense Forces is using white phosphorus in its attacks, a controversial substance that can cause excruciating burns, but nevertheless is not illegal if it is only used as a smokescreen. Banned by the Geneva conventions, white phosphorus has been used by the U.S. military in Iraq:
"...[T]he tell-tale shells could be seen spreading tentacles of thick white smoke to cover the troops' advance. "These explosions are fantastic looking, and produce a great deal of smoke that blinds the enemy so that our forces can move in," said one Israeli security expert. Burning blobs of phosphorus would cause severe injuries to anyone caught beneath them and force would-be snipers or operators of remote-controlled booby traps to take cover. Israel admitted using white phosphorus during its 2006 war with Lebanon."
After a week of doing pretty much nothing, Western leaders have started to respond to the crisis, with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and (otherwise MIA) Middle East special envoy Tony Blair arriving in the region on Monday.