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White phosphorus is an incendiary weapon. It makes a bright light and smoke. Its main ingredient is one of the allotropes of the chemical element phosphorus. White phosphorus is toxic to humans. It can burn deep into soft tissue, it can be breathed in, or it can be ingested (eaten). Over time, these can cause death.
The use of incendiary weapons against civilians is forbidden since 1949. They were used by U.S. forces in Iraq in 2004. White phosphorous was also used in the Israeli invasion of Gaza during December 2008 through January 2009. These actions were supported by the US government.