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Saturday, August 26, 2006

State Department investigating Israeli use of cluster bombs

The New York Times is reporting that the US State Department is investigating Israel's use of cluster bombs during the recently concluded war in Lebanon, to determine whether Israel violated secret agreements with the United States regarding their use.

The investigation by the department’s Office of Defense Trade Controls began this week, after reports that three types of American cluster munitions, anti-personnel weapons that spray bomblets over a wide area, have been found in many areas of southern Lebanon and were responsible for civilian casualties.

Gonzalo Gallegos, a State Department spokesman, said, “We have heard the allegations that these munitions were used, and we are seeking more information.” He declined to comment further.

Several current and former officials said that they doubted the investigation would lead to sanctions against Israel but that the decision to proceed with it might be intended to help the Bush administration ease criticism from Arab governments and commentators over its support of Israel’s military operations. The investigation has not been publicly announced; the State Department confirmed it in response to questions.

In addition to investigating use of the weapons in southern Lebanon, the State Department has held up a shipment of M-26 artillery rockets, a cluster weapon, that Israel sought during the conflict, the officials said.

The inquiry is likely to focus on whether Israel properly informed the United States about its use of the weapons and whether targets were strictly military. So far, the State Department is relying on reports from United Nations personnel and nongovernmental organizations in southern Lebanon, the officials said.

David Siegel, a spokesman for the Israeli Embassy, said, “We have not been informed about any such inquiry, and when we are we would be happy to respond.”


But a report released Wednesday by the United Nations Mine Action Coordination Center, which has personnel in Lebanon searching for unexploded ordnance, said it had found unexploded bomblets, including hundreds of American types, in 249 locations south of the Litani River.

The report said American munitions found included 559 M-42’s, an anti-personnel bomblet used in 105-millimeter artillery shells; 663 M-77’s, a submunition found in M-26 rockets; and 5 BLU-63’s, a bomblet found in the CBU-26 cluster bomb. Also found were 608 M-85’s, an Israeli-made submunition.

The unexploded submunitions being found in Lebanon are probably only a fraction of the total number dropped. Cluster munitions can contain dozens or even hundreds of submunitions designed to explode as they scatter around a wide area. They are very effective against rocket-launcher units or ground troops.

The Lebanese government has reported that the conflict killed 1,183 people and wounded 4,054, most of them civilians. The United Nations reported this week that the number of civilian casualties in Lebanon from cluster munitions, land mines and unexploded bombs stood at 30 injured and eight killed.

Dozen of Israelis were killed and hundreds wounded in attacks by Hezbollah rockets, some of which were loaded with ball bearings to maximize their lethality. [I am shocked - completely and totally shocked - that the New York Times would mention this. A flying pigs moment if I could do pictures from here. CiJ]

Officials say it is unlikely that Israel will be found to have violated a separate agreement, the Arms Export Control Act, which requires foreign governments that receive American weapons to use them for legitimate self-defense. Proving that Israel’s campaign against Hezbollah did not constitute self-defense would be difficult, especially in view of President Bush’s publicly announced support for Israel’s action after Hezbollah fighters attacked across the border, the officials said.


At 6:45 AM, Blogger Dave in Pa said...

Perhaps the Israeli Defense Minister could take a leaf out of US Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld's book.

During the Afghan Liberation, Rummy was holding a press conference. One left-wing dolt of a reporter (or am I repeating myself?) asked Rummy in a peremptory "gotcha" tone of voice if it was true the US Air Force was dropping cluster munitions on Al Qaeda and Taliban forces...and why.

Rummy peered down through his bifocals at the reporter with a priceless "you-idiot!" look on his face and said (As I recall, these were Rummy's exact words) "Yes, we're dropping cluster munitions. That's because we're trying to kill as many of them as possible."

All the reporters actually shut up...momentarily...

Priceless moment!!!

At 7:13 AM, Blogger Ronnie Schreiber said...


OT, and completely unserious, but I wanted you to see it.

I noticed in your post below about security in the US that you are apparently a baseball fan, Boston specifically. Take a look at this and tell me if the one on the lower right works. I have a small embroidery business. The day school I attended as a kid is having an outing to see the Tigers play the Orioles next month and I thought I'd pitch them on some hats with an Olde English Daled. The design worked so well that I did a few others. Now the only question is do I want to risk getting sued by MLB (I'm really too small an enterprise to get licensed).


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