Re: "The worst post-conflict cluster bomb contamination ever seen"
- From: "nadr" <nadr@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Thu, 31 Aug 2006 23:37:13 GMT
"Basil H" <mr_mojo_waiting@xxxxxxxxx> wrote in message
Pressure for ban on cluster bombs as Israel is accused of targeting
Undoubtedly, Israel has committed war crimes and used cluster bombs to
maximize civilain casualties. The UN and the rest on the international
community and even many Israelis feel that this is illegal. Amenstey
International would like to prosecute Israel and Hizballah for war crimes.
I think many Lebanese and Israelis will not have a problem with this.
By Ben Russell, Political Correspondent
Published: 31 August 2006
Pressure for an international ban on cluster bombs has intensified as
Israel stands accused of littering southern Lebanon with thousands of
unexploded bombs in the final hours of its war against Hizbollah.
Campaigners yesterday accused the Israel Defence Force of leaving a
"minefield" of deadly bomblets in villages and fields after firing
hundreds of cluster shells, rockets and bombs across its northern
border in the three days before hostilities ended earlier this month.
United Nations officials said that 12 people had been killed, and
another 49 injured by such bombs since the war ended and that the
casualty rate was likely to rise.
The Israeli government insists that it did not target civilians during
the conflict and says all weaponry used was in accordance with
Israel insists its use of weaponry is legal. However, anti-landmine
campaigners have been pressing for an international ban on their use,
arguing that cluster bombs are indiscriminate and their use in
populated areas may contravene international law.
Mine-clearance specialists said densely populated southern Lebanon was
blighted by thousands of unexploded bomblets, which can kill or maim if
they are moved or touched. In one case this week 35 bomblets were
cleared from in and around one house, while in another a woman lost her
hands when a bomblet apparently became tangled in her tobacco crop.
Yesterday the United Nations official in charge of bomb disposal in
southern Lebanon said his staff had identified 390 strikes by cluster
munitions, and had disposed of more than 2,000 bomblets since the
Chris Clarke, head of the UN mine action service in southern Lebanon,
said: "This is without a doubt the worst post-conflict cluster bomb
contamination I have ever seen."
In a presentation at the international conference on conventional
weapons in Geneva yesterday, he said that the "vast majority" of
cluster bombs had been fired by the Israeli Defence Force in the final
three days of the conflict, prompting campaigners to accuse the Israeli
government of targeting civilian populations.
Mr Clarke, who has worked in bomb clearance in Sudan, Kosovo, Kuwait
and Bosnia, said the number of confirmed strikes was "climbing every
day". He said: "They are everywhere in south Lebanon. We are still
looking. Pretty much the whole of south Lebanon is carpeted with these
things." He predicted that specialists would take up to six months to
remove the worst threat from unexploded weaponry and said full
clearance could take a further year.
Speaking from Lebanon yesterday Sean Sutton, of the Mines Action Group,
which has 80 staff clearing the unexploded bombs, said: "This is pretty
widespread across the whole of southern Lebanon. There are literally
thousands of unexploded munitions in and around the remains of people's
homes and on the roads and streets."
Simon Conway, director of the British charity Landmine Action,
condemned Israel's "cynical" use of the weapons. He said: "The
premeditated targeting of residential areas with high failure-rate
cluster munitions in the final days of the conflict means that the
rubble-filled villages of southern Lebanon have been deliberately
turned into minefields that will indiscriminately kill civilians for
years to come."
Yesterday the charity published a report highlighting the use of
cluster bombs in Lebanon and calling for an immediate international ban
on their use.
Frank Cook, Labour chairman of the Commons all-party Landmine Group,
added: "These weapons are totally indiscriminate. For them to be used
by Israel among a civilian population is quite outrageously
Susan Kramer, the Liberal Democrat international development spokesman,
said: "Cluster munitions need to be outlawed once and for all. Lebanon
is still suffering from their use by the Israelis in 1978 and 1982."
A spokesman for the Israeli embassy in London insisted the country's
armed forces did not target civilians. He said: "Israel does not use
any weaponry that is forbidden under international law or conventions."
Cluster bombs are designed to deliver a devastating blitz on military
vehicles and troop emplacements, each device scattering hundreds of
explosive "bomblets" over a wide area.
However, their use has become highly controversial, with campaigners
likening them to landmines, warning that strikes can leave hundreds of
deadly unexploded weapons strewn across a battlefield decades after the
troops have left.
The individual devices, about the size of a tin can, can inflict severe
or even fatal injuries if they are moved or handled by unsuspecting
civilians returning to an affected area.
UN mine clearance experts have identified 390 strikes by Israeli
cluster bombs in its recent war in Lebanon. Munitions include
American-made M42 and M47 shells which each contain about 80 bomblets.
UN staff have also found the remains of Israeli-manufactured M85
weapons, which are fired by rocket and contain 644 bomblets. They say
that American-made cluster bombs dropped from aircraft have also been
Bomblets are designed to explode on impact. However, campaigners say
that a high proportion fail to detonate and remain as a hazard for
civilians. Experts in Lebanon say that up to half of the bomblets
dropped during the recent conflict remain unexploded.
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