The mystery of the strange smoke emitting from Jerusalem's Schneller Compound on Sunday and Monday has been solved; the culprit – an old white phosphorus bomb that exploded.
On Sunday it was reported that security guards located a dud shell at the Compound, which is located in the Geula neighborhood near the city center and until 2008 served as an IDF base; police sappers were called to the site.
Then on Monday, hazardous materials and firefighter crews were called to the scene following reports that unidentified smoke was rising from the ground, and after workers who were active in the area reported that they felt ill as a result of the smoke.
One person at the scene was lightly wounded from the smoke and required medical treatment, reports Channel 2.
As a result of the hazardous smoke, the site was closed off and residents living within 100 meters (over 300 feet) of the Compound were asked to stay inside and seal their windows.
It remains unclear whether the dud found on Sunday caused the smoke experienced on Monday, or whether it was another old explosive that had not been properly dealt with.
The material has numerous military applications; primarily it is used as an incendiary bomb, given that it burns fiercely and can ignite all sorts of materials, including cloth and ammunition.
In addition, white phosphorus is often used to create a smoke screen, with the material employed in many smoke grenades and grenade launchers. This aspect of creating a smoke screen has other benefits as well, with the smoke allowing infrared signature marking and the location of enemy sources of fire.
Inhaling the material's smoke can irritate the eyes, nose and respiratory tract, and higher concentrations can cause severe burns.