To keep killing after the war. Israel and the US’s use of cluster bombs.

Originally published 10/17/06:

I am really horrified by the use of cluster bombs recently in Lebanon by Israeli forces and feel strongly the need to put out as much information on this murderous weapon which mangles and kills children and adults for years after the battle.  There is an article in Counterpunch today which reports very nicely on a brief history of cluster bombs, Israels recent use of cluster bombs, and speculates on the reason why Israel littered south Lebanon with 3 million bomblets in the last few days of the war when the date for a ceasefire had already been decided.  It’s a very good article.  Here are a few selected factoids from the article:

“Unfortunately, our government did not respond. Since the war ended in 1975, an estimated 38,000 Vietnamese have been killed by unexploded cluster bomblets. As bomblets deteriorate, death and injury rates are escalating.(14) In Laos, over 12,000 people have died, and the ‘bombies’ are now killing 120 people a year. Half are children.(15)”

“On August 11, the first day of the cluster blitz and three days before the ceasefire, the New York Times reported that Israel had made an urgent request to the Bush administration for the delivery of more M26 cluster munition rockets. They “can be effective against hidden missile launchers”, the Times explained.(32)”

“This report suggests one of two things: either the decision to launch the massive cluster bomb campaign was a last minute, ad hoc affair, or procurement specialists in Olmert’s administration really dropped the ball.”

“The peculiarity of Israel’s timing becomes acute when we consider how few targets were left for all those cluster bombs to kill. By the final week of the war, most people in the target zone had evacuated to escape Israel’s relentless bombing and shelling, which had erased several villages from the face of the earth. Hezbollah fighters should have been able to ride out Israel’s cluster bombing waves in the safety of their bunkers. Nonetheless, the IDF must have made an all-out effort to deploy nearly three million bomblets within 72 hours, probably involving all units capable of delivering such devices. What were they shooting at?”

“The specifics of the available evidence support one “logical” objective for this attack: Israel used cluster munitions as substitutes for landmines.”

“The most intensively cluster-bombed region of Lebanon is home to hundreds of thousands of people, many of whom are unable to return home. On the other hand, Israel considers Hezbollah’s fighting force to number about 1,500 men.(36) Simple math reveals the shocking truth: Innocent civilians were perhaps 200 times more likely than Hezbollah militants to be killed or maimed by Israel’s region-wide cluster bombing. This basic statistic could not have been unknown to Israeli strategists.”

“Ten years later, America was cheering its own cluster bombing of Iraq. During the infamously “fast and clean” Gulf War, US and Allied warplanes dropped 20 million bomblets, while the artillery fired another 30 million submunitions. The dud rates of some of these bomblets ranged as high as 30 percent. According to Human Rights Watch in 2003: “At least eighty U.S. casualties during the war were attributed to cluster munition duds. More than 4,000 civilians have been killed or injured by cluster munition duds since the end of the war.”(38)”


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