JERUSALEM, Jan. 13 (Xinhua) -- Israel's military chief on Tuesday denied accusations that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) was using shells containing white phosphorus, local daily The Jerusalem Post reported.
Chief of General Staff Gabi Ashkenazi made the denial at a parliamentary committee in charge of foreign and defense affairs in responding to a query by a lawmaker who raised the issue amid spreading reports that the chemical was suspected in several cases of injuries in the Gaza Strip.
"The IDF acts only in accordance with what is permitted by international law and does not use white phosphorus," Ashkenazi was quoted as saying.
Ashkenazi, meanwhile, lauded the "extraordinary job" the IDF has done so far, saying that the troops will press ahead with the ongoing Operation Cast Lead "to deepen the blow to the (Hamas) military wing, to minimize the attacks and strengthen deterrence, in order to truly create a better security reality for the residents of the south."
Also on Tuesday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that his country would continue its offensive in the Hamas-ruled enclave along with diplomatic efforts for a ceasefire.
The IDF on Tuesday moved deeper into Gaza City and were engaged in fierce fighting with Palestinian militants in the streets in the densely populated urban center, as Israeli bombardment and Palestinian rocket fire continued.
Over 900 people have been killed in the Palestinian strip, and 13 have died on the Israeli side during the past 18 days of fighting.
A top Israeli defense official is expected to pay his second visit to Cairo in the coming days for talks with Egyptian officials over a possible ceasefire.