Israel’s cluster-bomb use okay


Israel’s top military legal authority said the use of cluster bombs during the Second Lebanon War was appropriate.

Brig.-Gen. Avihai Mendelblit, judge advocate-general of Israel’s armed forces, closed the case this week against artillery and air force units which fired thousands of cluster bombs against suspected Hezbollah guerrilla positions in southern Lebanon during the 2006 conflict.

Lebanese and various other foreign agencies said Israel’s use of cluster bombs violated international law as many of the shells fell on populated areas. Dozens of Lebanese civilians have also fallen casualty to dud cluster bomblets which exploded by accident after the Aug. 14, 2006 ceasefire.

But Mendelblit ruled that the majority of cluster bombs used by Israel were fired at open areas favored by Hezbollah for ambushes and rocket launches. While the judge advocate-general cited exceptions, such as a bloody battle at Maroun a-Ras when Israeli forces used cluster bombs to cover the evacuation of casualties, he said these were not egregious enough to warrant recommending prosecutions.

Mendelblit added that the armed forces have, since the war, instituted new regulations for using cluster bombs.

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