Israel denies using depleted uranium arms in Gaza

JERUSALEM, Jan 21 (Reuters) - Israel denied on Wednesday its armed forces used ordnance with depleted uranium during the Gaza Strip offensive, and said that could be proven by any U.N. investigation.

Responding to a letter from Arab envoys, the International Atomic Energy Agency said on Tuesday it would consult with member states on the diplomats' demand for a probe into whether Israeli attacks on Gaza might have featured the controversial munitions, which can leave dangerous radioactive debris.

"I deny this completely," Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said, adding that such allegations were "no more than a recurring motif of anti-Israel propaganda".

Israel has also been fending off accusations that it unlawfully used white-phosphorous shells, which can cause severe burns, for the 22-day assault on the Palestinian territory.

Depleted uranium is used in weapons because it can penetrate tanks and armour more easily due to its density and other physical properties.

It is a particular health risk around impact sites, where dust can get into people's lungs and vital organs. It also has civilian uses in medical equipment and is used in radiation shields.

Israel was accused of using depleted uranium during its 2006 offensive against Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas. Palmor said a U.N. investigation failed to find any evidence of that.

"Should they decide to hassle the U.N. inspectors again, they'll get the same results," he said.

The IAEA has in the past contributed to studies on depleted uranium traces from ammunition in the Balkans which found it was highly unlikely that a reported increase in cancer risks there could be linked to the traces. (Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Alison Williams)