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Friday, August 11, 2006

Israel Asks U.S. to Ship Rockets With Wide Blast

This is very interesting, particularly because of the timing (as we are apparently about to give up on destroying Hezbullah). The New York Times is reporting this morning that Israel has asked the US to ship M-26 artillery rockets, which are short-range antipersonnel rockets armed with cluster munitions, which it could use to strike Hezbollah missile sites in Lebanon, two American officials said Thursday. According to the Times, the M-26 is fired in barrages, and carries hundreds of grenade-like bomblets that scatter and explode over a broad area. The request is likely to be approved shortly, along with other arms, a senior official said.

Now, I'm not quite sure how you use these things against rocket launch sites (if they were an anti-missile system, I would understand, as many of the Hezbullah launchers apparently launch multiple rockets at the same time), but the US State Department is not too keen on this sale. They're concerned about 'civilian casualties' since we all know that Hezbullah hides rocket launchers behind and among civilians. Given that most of the 'civilians' are apparently willing to be used as human shields, I'm not very sympathetic to the concern... And I wonder whether it would influence any of the 'civilians' actions if they knew that Israel has these rockets....
... State Department officials have sought to delay the approval because of concerns over the likelihood of civilian casualties, and the diplomatic repercussions. The rockets, while they would be very effective against hidden missile launchers, officials say, are fired by the dozen and could be expected to cause civilian casualties if used against targets in populated areas.

Israel is asking for the rockets now because it has been unable to suppress Hezbollah’s Katyusha rocket attacks in the month-old conflict by using bombs dropped from aircraft and other types of artillery, the officials said. The Katyusha rockets have killed dozens of civilians in Israel.

The United States had approved the sale of M-26’s to Israel some time ago, but the weapons had not yet been delivered when the crisis in Lebanon erupted. If the shipment is approved, Israel may be told that it must be especially careful about firing the rockets into populated areas, the senior official said.

Israel has long told American officials that it wanted M-26 rockets for use against conventional armies in case Israel was invaded, one of the American officials said. But after being pressed in recent days on what they intended to use the weapons for, Israeli officials disclosed that they planned to use them against rocket sites in Lebanon. It was this prospect that raised the intense concerns over civilian casualties.

During much of the 1980’s, the United States maintained a moratorium on selling cluster munitions to Israel, following disclosures that civilians in Lebanon had been killed with the weapons during the 1982 Israeli invasion. But the moratorium was lifted late in the Reagan administration, and since then, the United States has sold Israel some types of cluster munitions, the senior official said.

Officials would discuss the issue only on the condition of anonymity, as the debate over what to do is not resolved and is freighted with implications for the difficult diplomacy that is under way.

State Department officials “are discussing whether or not there needs to be a block on this sale because of the past history and because of the current circumstances,” said the senior official, adding that it was likely that Israel will get the rockets, but will be told to be “be careful.”

David Siegel, a spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in Washington, declined to comment on Israel’s request. He said, though, that “as a rule, we obviously don’t fire into populated areas, with the exception of the use of precision-guided munitions against terrorist targets.” In such cases, Israel has dropped leaflets warning of impending attacks to avoid civilian casualties, he said.

In the case of cluster munitions, including the Multiple Launch Rocket System, which fires the M-26, the Israeli military only fires into open terrain where rocket launchers or other military targets are found, to avoid killing civilians, an Israeli official said [Except that most of Hezbullah's rocket launchers are not exactly in 'open terrain.' CiJ].
And then we have accusations from 'Human Rights Watch.' As you read this, in addition to the two links above, keep in mind that Hezbullah has been using Katyusha rockets packed with ball-bearings and that - as noted - they hide behind 'civilians'. While I am not suggesting that their behavior would be justification for our behaving the same way (and in any event, the IDF does not target civilians), that's the type of people with whom we are dealing. Keep in mind the pictures shown here.
Last month, the advocacy group Human Rights Watch said its researchers had uncovered evidence that Israel had fired cluster munitions on July 19 at the Lebanese village of Bilda, which the group said had killed one civilian and wounded at least 12 others, including 7 children. The group said it had interviewed survivors of the attack, who described incoming artillery shells dispensing hundreds of cluster submunitions on the village.

Human Rights Watch also released photographs, taken recently by its researchers in northern Israel, of what it said were American-supplied artillery shells that had markings showing they carried cluster munitions.

Mr. Siegel, the Israeli Embassy spokesman, denied that cluster munitions had been used on the village.
Read the whole thing.


At 5:48 PM, Blogger Jhn1 said...

For one of the best thesises I have read on war killing children, read Blackfive
It does get to the point, and properly allocates blame for both the deaths and the anguish (separate)
Blame is those deliberately putting children in harm's way, and anguish is from those who will not properly attribute blame.

At 8:15 PM, Blogger eatyourbeans said...

I had hoped that Israel had some big idea to execute. Perhaps to provoke Iran into doing something rash, and then whacking them. Hard. This may be your last chance before they get nukes.

Innocent civilians? I don't believe such exist out in your neighborhood.

At 6:09 AM, Blogger Oak said...

I can try to understand what's going on on both sides but actions speak so much louder. How can the killing be justified? I don't get this part.


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