Monday, January 29, 2007

US studies Israel's cluster bomb use in Lebanon

The legal side of this is nothing we didn't know already. But you can be sure that despite international laws there will be no sanctions from the US or anyone against Israel for their blatant violation of human rights and the laws of war. At least one paper publishes the story. See how many others will.

US studies Israel's cluster bomb use in Lebanon

Mark Tran
Monday January 29, 2007
Guardian Unlimited

The location of an Israeli cluster bomb is marked with red paint near the village of El Maalliye in southern Lebanon. Photograph: Sergey Ponomarev/AP

Israel may have violated agreements with the US on the use of cluster bombs during the war in Lebanon last summer, the state department is expected to report to Congress today.
The Bush administration must now decide what action, if any, to take against Israel for its use of the weapons against towns and villages from where Hizbullah fired its rockets.

Opinion among US officials was divided, the New York Times reported at the weekend. The paper said some middle-ranking officials at the Pentagon and the state department were arguing that Israel had violated prohibitions on using cluster munitions against civilian areas.

But others in both departments thought Israel's use of the weapons was justified on grounds of self-defence in a conflict that cost the lives of 159 Israeli soldiers and civilians, the paper said.

Tough action from the US is believed to be unlikely, however, as the White House staunchly supports the Israeli government.

Cluster bombs scatter over a wide area hundreds of small "bomblets", many of which fail to explode. Inquisitive children may later pick these up, or civilians may step on them.

Israeli forces dropped an estimated 1m cluster bomblets in southern Lebanon last summer, 90% of which were dropped in the last three days of the conflict, the group Landmine Action reported in October.

Even if Israel is found to be in violation of its agreements with the US, it is up to the president, George Bush, to decide whether to impose sanctions - unless Congress decides to take legislative action, which is highly unlikely.

The state department is required to notify Congress even of the preliminary findings of possible violations of the Arms Export Control Act, the statute governing arms sales. It began an investigation in August.

Whatever the US decides, Israel makes its own cluster munitions, so a cutoff of US supplies would be mainly symbolic. The Reagan administration imposed a six-year ban on cluster bombs sales to Israel in 1982 after a congressional investigation found Israel had used the weapons in civilian areas during its invasion of Lebanon in that year.

The UN and human rights groups strongly criticised Israel's use of cluster bombs at the end of the Lebanon conflict last summer.

"What is shocking and completely immoral is 90% of the cluster bomb strikes occurred in the last 72 hours of the conflict, when we knew there would be a resolution," the UN humanitarian chief, Jan Egeland, said soon after the war ended.

But Israel said the use of cluster bombs was in accordance with international law, and that its forces had not targeted civilians. "The IDF [Israel Defence Force] does not deliberately attack civilians and takes steps to minimise any incidental collateral harm by warning them in advance of an action, even at the expense of losing the element of surprise," the Israeli foreign ministry said at the end of the war.

Still, Israeli television reported in December that the military's judge advocate general was gathering evidence for possible criminal charges against military officers who may have given orders for cluster bombs to be fired into populated areas.

According to the UN mine action coordination centre for South Lebanon, by December 19, 18 people had been killed and 145 injured since the August ceasefire.

The casualty rate has come down sharply. Immediately after the war, there were more than 30 casualties a week; the figure now is about three or four.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Wise

This is probably one of the strongest messages I have seen so far. Large video, but much worth the wait. This is how all Lebanese have to think. Dont follow your leaders, follow your nation.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

A Perfect Day

This is a fantastic animation about the current situation in Lebanon and a plea for peace. This was created by Grey Worldwide office in Beirut.