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Watchdog: Israel’s cluster bombs argue for ban

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Israel’s use of cluster bombs in the 2006 Lebanon war makes the case for banning the weapon worldwide, a human rights watchdog said.

“The human devastation inflicted on Lebanon by Israel’s illegal use of cluster munitions highlights the urgent need for an international treaty banning the weapon,” Human Rights Watch said in a 131-page report it released last week.

The watchdog said bombs that failed to detonate killed and maimed up to 200 people since the end of the war. An Israeli army investigation last year concluded that the bombs were used in areas away from civilians and exploited by Hezbollah, the terrorist group that started the war, to launch missiles on Israel.

Human Rights Watch disputed those conclusions, noting they contradicted the separate Israeli government’s Winograd Commission report on the war that said it found cases of the bombs being released in populated areas.

Additionally, Human Rights Watch said, the army’s defense does not take into account the delayed explosion of bombs in areas that were empty during the war but to which civilians returned afterward.

The group timed the report for a five-day international conference concluding Friday in Wellington, New Zealand, that is aimed at banning cluster bombs.

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