Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Israel using cluster munitions in Lebanon: rights group

Israel using cluster munitions in Lebanon: rights group - Yahoo! News

Israel using cluster munitions in Lebanon: rights group

Mon Jul 24, 6:12 PM ET

Human Rights Watch said that Israel has used artillery-fired cluster munitions in Lebanon, killing a civilian, and called on the Jewish state to immediately cease the practice.

The New York-based rights group said researchers on the ground in Lebanon confirmed that Israel staged a cluster munitions attack on the village of Blida on July 19, leaving one person dead and injuring 12 civilians, including seven children.

The report said researchers had also photographed cluster munitions in the arsenal of Israeli artillery teams stationed at the Lebanese border.

"Cluster munitions are unacceptably inaccurate and unreliable weapons when used around civilians,"
Kenneth Roth, executive directory of Human Rights Watch, said in a statement. "They should never be used in populated areas."

Researchers interviewed witnesses of the Blida attack who said Israelis had fired shells which dropped hundreds of cluster munitions on the village.

Cluster munitions are particularly dangerous because they have a high level of duds that can explode much later after the attack.

Human Rights Watch said the US use of cluster munitions was the leading cause of civilian deaths during the invasion of Iraq in March-April 2003, killing or injuring more than 1,000 Iraqi non-combatants.

Belgium became the first country to ban use of cluster munitions in February 2006, followed by a moratorium declared by Norway four months later, Human Rights Watch said, noting there was a growing international movement against their use.

Last week, Human Rights Watch said Hezbollah's attacks on Israel with imprecise rockets in civilian areas violated international humanitarian law and most likely constituted "war crimes."

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