Israel says cluster bomb use was legal

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

An Israeli military investigation has announced that the use of cluster bombs during the Israeli-Lebanon conflict last year did not violate international law.

The UN General Assembly stated that Israel's use of the bombs were "shocking and immoral." Israel holds that "the use of the weaponry was a concrete military necessity."

U.S. State Department findings last January found that Israel's use of the American-made cluster bombs likely violated agreements between the two countries. State Department spokesperson Sean McCormack said "there may -- likely could have been some violations," specifically under the Arms Export Control Act.

An anonymous Lebanese government official responded to the decision saying that "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."

It is estimated that Israel dropped up to four million cluster bombs last year, one million of which did not explode, still posing a danger to civilians in Lebanon. According to the United Nations, at least 38 people have been killed and 217 wounded by cluster bombs since the 34-day conflict ended.

The month-long war began in July last year when members of Hezbollah killed five Israeli soldiers and captured two during a cross-border raid. It is estimated that around 1200 civilians in Lebanon were killed and around 150 in Israel.