Sunday, November 26, 2006

Israel's use of Cluster Munitions in Lebanon

During the summer attack on Lebanon, Israel used cluster bombs but continued to deny it or at best indicated that they used it in accordance with international treaties, only in areas not populated by people. Several investigative articles were written about the topic.

Most recently, the Cluster Munitions Coalition came out with a report on the use of cluster munitions in Lebanon that challenges Israel’s claims. The report can be downloaded in full at: http://www.stopclustermunitions.org/files/Foreseeable%20harm.pdf.

The report clearly indicates that Israel’s cluster munitions strikes were conducted over towns and villages. UNIFL’s report indicate that 90% of these munitions were fired in the last 72 hours of the attack, which indicates a clear attempt to exert long term terrifying damage on the civilian population of South Lebanon. Additionally, the report implicates the United States as it consciously and knowing sold cluster munitions weapons to Israel.
The report’s key findings indicate that:

Patterns of use
• Israel used cluster munitions extensively in south Lebanon during July and August 2006 with particularly heavy use in the 72 hours prior to the ceasefire.
• Israel employed surface-delivered cluster munitions, including 1,800 U.S.-supplied cluster rockets and an unknown number of U.S. and Israeli-manufactured 155mm artillery projectiles. U.S.-supplied Vietnam-era air-dropped cluster bombs were also used.
• Approximately 60% of Israeli cluster strikes hit built up areas. As of 5 September 2006, cluster munitions strike sites were recorded in 90 towns and villages.
• Although warnings were delivered, significant numbers of people including the elderly and infirm remained behind and some were killed and injured.
• Cluster munitions do not appear to have had any significant impact toward the military aims stated by Israel during the war. The massive and widespread use of cluster munitions across south Lebanon does not seem to accord with any recognizable legitimate military strategy.

Impact
• During the conflict cluster munitions caused deaths and injuries amongst civilians who were unable or unwilling to evacuate their homes.
• Very large quantities of unexploded sub-munitions contamination have been created, including contamination from those sub-munitions fitted with self-destruct mechanisms.
• Significant numbers of civilians have been killed and injured by unexploded sub-munitions at an average of 3–4 casualties per day during the first month since the ceasefire. Approximately 35% of the casualties from unexploded sub-munitions have been children.
• 97 percent of all casualties from unexploded ordnance and mines since the ceasefire have been caused by cluster munitions.
• One month after the ceasefire, unexploded cluster munitions were identified as one of the most significant threats to civilian life in southern Lebanon.
• Residential areas across south Lebanon have been densely contaminated with large numbers of unexploded sub-munitions.
• Sub-munitions duds have endangered returning populations and prevented some Lebanese people from returning home. Cluster munitions have hindered relief efforts and will impede work to rehabilitate communities.
• Unexploded cluster munitions are affecting the areas of south Lebanon that are already subject to the highest levels of poverty.
• Cluster munitions have seriously affected livelihoods by blocking water supplies, disrupting work to restore power lines and preventing excavation of rubble and reconstruction efforts.
• Unexploded cluster munitions have prevented or endangered the harvest of remaining tobacco, olive, wheat and fruit crops and will prevent or endanger the replanting of winter grain and vegetable crops.


According to Cluster Munitions Coalition (www.stopclustermunitions.org), cluster munitions are weapons that include cargo containers and sub-munitions. The cargo containers are fired, launched or dropped by aircraft or land-based artillery. The containers open over a target area and disperse large numbers of the sub-munitions that are designed to explode when they hit the target. Most of these sub-munitions are fragmentation weapons that include a shaped charge so that they are effective against soldiers as well as armored vehicles. The vast majority of cluster munitions contain hundreds of sub-munitions that are unguided and that cover one square kilometer with explosions and shrapnel. Cluster munitions are also called cluster bombs or cluster weapons. Sub-munitions are sometimes called bomblets.

The following countries have used cluster munitions: Eritrea, Ethiopia, France, Israel, Netherlands, Nigeria, Russia, Serbia and Montenegro, Sudan, United Kingdom, United States.