US investigating IDF cluster bomb use

State Dep't

This week, the US State Department began investigating Israel's use of American-made cluster bombs in south Lebanon, and whether their use violated secret agreements with Washington, The New York Times reported Friday. Since a UN-brokered cease-fire took hold Aug. 14, eight Lebanese have been killed by exploding ordnance, including two children, and 38 people have been wounded, according to a UN count. "A lot of them are in civilian areas, on farmland and in people's homes. We're finding a lot at the entrances to houses, on balconies and roofs," Farran said. "Sometimes windows are broken and they get inside the houses." The State Department's Office of Defense Trade Controls launched an investigation into Israel's use of three types of American weapons, anti-personnel munitions that spray bomblets over a wide area, The New York Times reported. The newspaper quoted several current and former US officials as saying they doubted the probe would lead to sanctions against Israel, but that it might be an effort by the Bush administration to ease Arab criticism of its military support for Israel. The US has also postponed a shipment of M-26 artillery rockets, another cluster weapon, to Israel, the paper said. United Nations demining experts refused to comment on the reported US investigation into whether Israel's use of such weapons might violate American rules, but suggested it violated some aspects of international law. "It's not illegal to use against soldiers or your enemy, but according to Geneva Conventions it's illegal to use them (cluster bombs) in civilian areas," Farran said. "But it's not up to us to decide if it's illegal - I'm just giving facts and letting others do analysis."