Israel used cluster bombs in self-defense during the past summer's war in Lebanon, Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said Sunday. Regev's comments came in response to reports that a preliminary US State Department report found that Jerusalem violated US-Israel arms agreements governing the use of cluster bombs. Congress is expected to be briefed on the conclusions of the report this week.
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"We have an open dialogue with the US," Regev said. "We have provided them with information, and tried to be as forthcoming, detailed and transparent as is possible. Our understanding is that the use of these weapons was done within the framework of self-defense in dealing with rockets designed to kill Israeli citizens."
Regev said that Israel took the American concern about this issue "very seriously," and felt it had satisfactorily replied to the US concerns. He added that outgoing Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz had ordered an internal IDF investigation into the use of the weapon as well.
Regev said that Israel was not taken by surprise by the State Department report, and that the relevant government officials had been dealing with the issue for some time.
The State Department investigation was launched following an outcry by the UN, several human rights groups and Arab media outlets charging that the cluster bombs caused a great deal of collateral damage in Lebanon.