[Metaculus] Will western sources conclude, before 2025, that Israel has used white phosphorus improperly?

Will western sources conclude, before 2025, that Israel has used white phosphorus improperly?

Resolves the same as the original on Metaculus.

Resolution criteria

This question will resolve as Yes if, before January 1, 2025, any three of the following government or media sources conclude that Israel has used white phosphorus in an illegal or improper manner any time after October 7, 2023:

  • The United Kingdom

  • The United States

  • France

  • Germany

  • Japan

  • South Korea

  • Israel

  • The United Nations

  • The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)

  • Reports published by one of the following sources and based on independent investigations conducted by the same source or commissioned by the same source each also count as one qualifying report

    • BBC

    • The Guardian

    • AP

    • Reuters

The use of white phosphorus must be explicitly stated by these sources, including an assertion that the use was improper or illegal, and the reported use must occur within the stated timeframe. Negative statements do not in themselves resolve this question as No. The question will resolve as No if no such use is reported by the deadline. Any use reported after the deadline will not count towards the resolution of this question.

Fine print and additional background information can be found on Metaculus.

Once the original resolves, its resolution will be applied to this market automatically. Trustworthy-ish users are encouraged to resolve this market before then if the outcome is known and unambiguous. Feel free to ping @jskf to request early resolution or to report issues.

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related, for gaza only, and endingin 2024


bought Ṁ25 of YES

If the picture in this article (I don't have WaPo) is real then it's improper use of WP.


From Wikipedia:

Article 2 of the same protocol prohibits the deliberate use of incendiary weapons against civilian targets (already forbidden by the Geneva Conventions), the use of air-delivered incendiary weapons against military targets in civilian areas...

bought Ṁ80 of NO

Beware the doctrine of double effect. The IDF will definitely deny using WP against civilian targets, and I doubt they would be found guilty of that. They didn't use it as an incendiary weapon, it just happened to also light people's houses on fire.

I also expect these don't count as "air-dropped", but rather "ground-fired". From the article you link:

Under Protocol III to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW), air-dropped incendiary munitions are forbidden in populated areas, but ground-fired incendiary weapons are allowed in some circumstances.

I'm definitely no expert on this terminology though, so hope someone corrects me if I'm wrong.

predicts NO

From the WaPo article:

In 2013, the Israeli military pledged to stop using white phosphorus on the battlefield, saying it would transition to gas-based smoke shells.

I'd be interested to learn more about (il)legitimate reasons the IDF might prefer to use WP over alternatives, if anyone knows.

Unsure the UN counts as 'western'?

(Or unbiased at this point...)

predicts NO

@Shump It's use as a smokescreen though, that's not the "improper" one, right?

predicts YES

@nathanwei Allegedly it was used on a civilian population, which is improper

predicts NO

@CelebratedWhale The Israel-Hezbollah classes have killed overwhelmingly Hezbollah militants. Anyway, it seems like it's a proper use of white phosphorus, for illumination purposes, rather than to burn people and so on.

bought Ṁ50 of NO

it seems like it's a proper use of white phosphorus, for illumination purposes, rather than to burn people and so on.

Why does it seem that way? I don't see any evidence of that in the article, other than the IDF's own claim. On the other hand, they do note the following:

It is unclear why the Israeli military fired the rounds into the evening, as smoke would have little practical use at night and there were no Israeli troops on the Lebanese side of the border to mask with smokescreens.

bought Ṁ10 of NO

Consideration: Israel is over powered enough to win without this kind of weapon, and Israel knows very well that using something like this would get the international community very angry.

[I personally think Israel would avoid that for moral reasons, but that is not a crux for my bet]

Concluding that white phosphorus was used in an illegal or improper manner will be taken as any statement generally condemning the use, which may or may not include assertions that the use violated international law. A statement such as "Israel's use of white phosphorus was reckless and harmful" would be considered to meet this requirement.