Israel rules cluster bomb use
Israel is accused of dropping
about four million cluster bombs in Lebanon
December 24, 2007
Israeli military prosecutors have decided
not to take any legal action over Israel's use of cluster bombs
during last year's war in Lebanon.
The Israeli army said on Monday that it
was closing an investigation into a practice that has drawn heavy
criticism from the UN and international human rights groups.
The investigation determined that Israel's
use of the weapons, which open in flight and scatter dozens of
bomblets, was a "concrete military necessity" and did
not violate international humanitarian law.
In a statement, the army said its chief
investigator, Major-General Gershon HaCohen, determined: "It
was clear that the majority of the cluster munitions were fired
at open and uninhabited areas, areas from which Hezbollah forces
operated and in which no civilians were present.
It said cluster bombs were fired at residential
areas only "as an immediate defence response to rocket attacks
by Hezbollah" and that Israeli troops did everything possible
to minimise civilian casualties.
Whenever firing cluster bombs, Israeli
forces were "respecting the laws of armed conflict .... and
preserving the ethical values" of the Israeli military, the
"The use of this weaponry was legal
once it was determined that, in order to prevent rocket fire on
to Israel, its use was a concrete military necessity," the
The conclusions were passed on to the
military's advocate general, Brigadier-General Avihai Mendelblit,
who accepted the recommendation and decided not to press charges.
The investigation was launched following the war.
In Beirut, a Lebanese government official
rejected the Israeli military prosecutors' decision, saying Israel's
use of cluster bombs has been condemned by the whole world.
"The Israeli decision indicates that
there is no difference between the judicial authority and political
authority in Israel. They all work to commit and cover up crimes
which are against humanity," the official told The Associated
Press, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with government
The United Nations and human rights groups
have accused Israel of dropping about four million cluster bombs
during its 34-day war against Hezbollah.
They say as many as one million bombs
failed to explode and now endanger civilians.
More than 30 people have been killed by
cluster bomb and land mine explosions in Lebanon since the 2006
The conflict erupted on July 12, 2006,
when Hezbollah men attacked an Israeli border patrol, killing
three soldiers and capturing two.
Amnesty International has criticised Israel
for bombing civilian areas and using cluster bombs during the
It has also criticised Hezbollah for firing
nearly 4,000 rockets at Israeli cities and towns.
Landmine & Cluster Bomb watch