udi adam dan halutz 224.
(photo credit: IDF [file])
In direct opposition to an order by Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz, the IDF's Northern Command led by its former chief, Maj.-Gen. Udi Adam, is suspected of ordering the firing of cluster bombs into populated areas during the last few days of the war in Lebanon, military sources have told The Jerusalem Post.
Maj.-Gen. Gershon Hacohen, commander of the IDF's Military Colleges, was appointed by Halutz to investigate the military's use of cluster bombs during the war against Hizbullah.
According to military sources, Hacohen, who questioned senior officers in the Northern Command during his investigation, plans to present his findings to Halutz in the coming days.
IDF regulations, set by Halutz, had permitted the use of cluster bombs - used to destroy airfields, tanks and soldiers and capable of scattering some 200 to 600 mini-explosives over targets - only in open and unpopulated areas.
An initial IDF probe, conducted by Brig.-Gen. Michel Ben-Baruch, found that in some cases the deadly munitions were not used in accordance with Halutz's directive.
The military sources told the Post that Northern Command ordered artillery units to use the deadly munitions during the last days of the war, despite Halutz's command.
Hacohen is also investigating whether Halutz sufficiently publicized and clarified his order not to fire the bombs into populated areas. Military Advocate-General Brig.-Gen. Avihai Mandelblit is reviewing the findings of the probes to determine if there are grounds for criminal charges to be pressed.
High-ranking sources in the Northern Command did not deny the charge when asked to comment on the report.
According to the United Nations, the vast majority of cluster bombs were fired by the IDF during the last 72 hours of the conflict. According to media reports, up to 40 percent of the bomblets failed to explode. Some estimate that a million mini-charges are spread throughout fields and villages in southern Lebanon.
Lebanon claims 24 civilians have been killed and 76 wounded by cluster bombs since the end of the war. Most of the shells exploded in fields and orchards.
The IDF Spokesperson's Office released a statement that all of the cluster bombs fired by the military - even in populated areas - were done with the utmost caution and only on enemy military targets. After the war, the IDF also gave UNIFIL maps with the positions of the targets that were hit with cluster bombs during the war.