An Israeli airstrike on an agrochemical warehouse during last year’s war in Gaza amounted to the “indirect deploying of chemical weapons”, according to a report analysing the attack and its impact.
Incendiary artillery shells fired by the Israel hit the large Khudair Pharmaceutical and Agricultural Tools warehouse in the north of the Gaza Strip on 15 May last year, setting fire to hundreds of tonnes of pesticides, fertilisers, plastics and nylons. The strike created a toxic plume, which engulfed an area of 5.7 sq km and has left local residents struggling with health issues, including reports of miscarriages.
Legal experts concluded that while conventional weapons were used in the bombing, “the shelling of the warehouse, with knowledge of the presence of toxic chemicals stored therein, is tantamount to chemical weapons through indirect means. Such acts are clearly prohibited … and prosecutable under the Rome Statute of the international criminal court”.
The strike on the Khudair warehouse was the first in a series of attacks deliberately targeting Gaza’s economic and industrial infrastructure, with half a dozen other factories and warehouses systematically bombed.