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Israel has taken worldwide condemnation for its use of cluster munitions in the war against Hezbollah this summer. Human Rights Watch esitimated that as many as 4 million bomblets got shot ino Lebanon by the Israelis, a quarter of which have yet to be cleaned up and which cause casualties every day. However, HRW didn't disclose until yesterday that both sides used cluster munitions:
The Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah fired cluster munitions during its 33-day war with Israel last summer, in strikes that caused one death and 12 injuries, according to a report released this week by the New York-based Human Rights Watch. The group expressed alarm over the rising supply of these controversial weapons to non-state armed groups.
"We are disturbed to discover that not only Israel but also Hezbollah used cluster munitions in the recent conflict, at a time when many countries are turning away from this kind of weapon precisely because of its impact on civilians," said Steve Goose, the Washington-based director of the Human Rights Watch Arms Division. "Use of cluster munitions is never justified in civilian-populated areas because they are inaccurate and unreliable," he said. ...
Israeli police told Human Rights Watch they had documented 113 cluster rockets that were fired at Israel during the fighting, which started July 12 and ended with an Aug. 14 cease-fire, the group reported. It said Israeli officials did not disclose the estimated rate of duds among the smaller munitions released from these rockets.
Hezbollah reportedly fired Chinese-made Type-81 122mm rockets, the first known use of that weapon in the world. Each of those rockets carries smaller munitions that can shoot out hundreds of 3.5mm steel spheres.
Once again, imbalanced reporting led to a serious misrepresentation of the war. And while Israel should be held accountable for its use of cluster munitions in areas populated by civilians, the global community has not even bothered to scold Hezbollah for making Israeli civilians its primary target for the attacks they launched.
Why are cluster munitions unacceptable, especially in areas where civilians live? They have no accuracy and kill indiscriminately. The bomblets released by the rockets that do not detonate immediately wind up laying around for months and years, detonating far after the combatants have left the theater. One could make an argument for them in a concentrated infantry battle where the bomblets would hit obvious combatants, but the residual effects of cluster munitions make them a poor choice if the attacking force plans on occupying that space later.
Israel should not have used cluster bombs, for tactical as well as moral reasons; they're not terribly effective against a dispersed enemy. However, Israel at least targeted Hezbollah, and the extent that they hit civilians comes as a direct result of Hezbollah's hiding themselves among civilians while staging their own attacks. Hezbollah deliberately launched their missiles and rockets at Israeli cities and towns, attacks that served no military purpose but instead intended to spread terrorism. In fact, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad have conducted these kinds of attacks against Israeli civilians for months and years, and Human Rights Watch has not bothered to hold these groups accountable in splashy press conferences in the same mannner they have approached Israel.
Human-rights groups have always held Israel to a double standard, removing all context from their pronouncements against the Israelis. In this case, we have heard about the Israeli use of cluster munitions for weeks before HRW finally admitted that both sides used them, and still without failing to note the deliberate targeting of civilians as a matter of policy by Hezbollah. That's why Washington Post readers found this story on page A18 instead of on A01.Sphere It View blog reactions
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Israel has taken worldwide condemnation for its use of cluster munitions in the war against Hezbollah this summer. Human Rights Watch esitimated that as many as 4 million bomblets got shot ino Lebanon by the Israelis, a quarter of which [Read More]
Tracked on October 20, 2006 8:29 AM
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