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Israel illegally dropped cluster bombs and land-mines in busy Lebanon towns and cities

The Israeli regime dropped thousands of cluster-bombs in densely-populated areas of Lebanon, an undeniable war-crime.

In International Law, and under the Geneva conventions, any action that could result in "indiscriminate" killing is illegal. Cluster-bombs are clearly indiscriminate, and therefore clearly illegal, by definition and by design. Israel is using state-of-the-art military technology, and it is rare for a bomb not to explode. But as the BBC acknowledges: "It is emerging that 25% to 30% of cluster bombs failed to detonate on impact, a far higher dud rate than expected. You find them on staircases and in gardens and hanging in the peach trees."

In many places "the streets are carpeted with" live explosive devices. The evidence indicates that Israel deliberately dropped these so-called "dud" cluster-bombs knowing that they would act as land-mines, booby-traps, or time-bombs, continuing to inflict terror and cause disruption for months or years beyond the official ceasefire.

Most of the cluster bombs were dropped deliberately and hurriedly in the last 72 hours of the campaign, after the ceasefire had already been agreed. At least a million were dropped during these few hours according to official estimates.

There is an obvious case for an independent inquiry and fair trial at the international court. Unfortunately, there is no hope of justice, because the criminals and their allies are simply too powerful; they are untouchable. ***

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Clearing up cluster bombs in Lebanon

Shuffling through the debris in her carpet slippers, Rya Balaf shows me where she found unexploded sub-munitions from cluster bombs in the living room of her house in Siddiqine, south of Tyre.

They have now been cleared away, and beneath the hole in the ceiling she tries to restore a bit of order.

She offers me a cup of tea or coffee, despite not having any running water or electricity.

I ask her why she came back when she knew it would be dangerous.

"I would rather die in my land, even in a tent, than die away from my home," she says.

Many of Rya's neighbours, especially those with children, took one look at their town and went away again.

Risk to life

Six hundred homes were damaged or destroyed in the conflict, many of them in the last 48 hours before the ceasefire, and the streets are carpeted with unexploded ordnance - war's deadly legacy. [Did any of the devices in these carpet-bombing drops explode on impact, and were any of them designed to?]

It is emerging that [at least] 25% to 30% of cluster bombs failed to detonate on impact, a far higher dud rate than expected. You find them on staircases and in gardens and hanging in the peach trees.

The UN has declared mine clearance a priority.

British NGO, MAG (Mines Advisory Group), had four teams operating in South Lebanon before the conflict, using mainly Lebanese staff to clear the 450,000 landmines that were left when the Israelis ended their occupation in 2002.

Now they are working round the clock to cope with a full-scale emergency, waiting for another 20 teams to arrive.

Andy Gleeson, technical operations manager, previously worked in Iraq where most of the bombs were aimed at military targets.

"The biggest difference here is seeing far more civilians affected," he says. "We're talking about a risk to life".

In Jabal Amel Hospital in Tyre, 10-year-old Hassan Thini lies, dark-eyed, under the white sheet and tells me about his traumatic home-coming in the border village of Aita al-Shaab.

He was exploring with his cousin and a friend when one of them picked up a sub-munition and threw it.

He describes running with his intestines falling out, trying to hold them in and screaming.

A week and several operations later, the wound in his stomach still hurts.

According to official statistics, 55 civilians were injured and nine killed in the first two weeks of peace.

Nine Lebanese soldiers and several Hezbollah fighters have also died while clearing munitions.

Munition 'trophy'

In Zaoutar al Gharbiye, a village overlooking the Litani River, MAG is asked to investigate two accidents involving farmers returning for the first time to their tobacco fields.

Andy Gleeson is then called to look at a sub-munition in someone's house.

He finds that the owner, Ahmed Shoukar, is a Hezbollah fighter who was injured in the leg after collecting cluster bombs. He had kept one on a shelf as a trophy.

Far from wanting MAG to remove the deadly object, he is determined to hang onto it.

When Andy hears that there are children in the house who may be tempted to play with it, he storms out of the building saying, "I should punch his lights out".

After clearing roads and houses, the next priority will be gardens and then fields.

However long it takes, MAG team leader, Ghassan Sulaiman from Maifadoun, says he is proud to help his country.

"If you destroy my house, I will rebuild it," he says.


BBC News, "Clearing up cluster bombs in Lebanon", 14 September 2006.

"The Insider" mailing list article, 14 September 2006.

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Tags: Israel, Lebanon, cluster-bombs, unexploded, land-mines, deliberate, unusual, explode, deliberately, dropped, war-crime, illegal, Israeli, war-crimes, international, law, , conspiracy theories.

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