Info Service on Health Issues (November 06/2)
Lebanon: Casualties continue despite end of Israeli invasion
A report released recently
claims that Lebanese civilians continue to be killed or maimed by unexploded
cluster bombs used by the Israeli Air Force during the invasion. Despite
their devastating effects on life, livelihoods and the environment,
countries like US, UK, Russia and Israel continue to use them.
article below is reproduced with permission from the South-North Development
Monitor (SUNS) # 6124, 20 October 2006.
conflict leaves deadly legacy
By Haider Rizvi, IPS, New York, 18 October 2006
The Israeli war against Lebanon
was over soon after the United Nations brokered a ceasefire agreement
last August. But while that may be true for outsiders, it is not for
At least three to four people are getting killed or maimed every day
as a result of cluster bombs used by the Israeli Air Force during the
war, according to a new study released here Wednesday.
Entitled "Foreseeable Harm: The use and impact of cluster munitions
in Lebanon: 2006," the study points out that among those killed
and wounded were numerous children under the age of 16.
In the final 72 hours before the ceasefire, which officially took effect
on August 14, the Israeli military fired 1,800 cluster rockets on southern
Lebanon, containing 1.2 million sub-munitions, many of which remain
"Three days of indiscriminate cluster munition use have left a
deadly legacy in southern Lebanon that will take years to clean up,"
said Thomas Nash, co-author of the 52-page study and coordinator of
the Cluster Munitions Coalition.
"Because they do not work as intended, cluster munitions fail in
huge numbers and there may be as many as one million unexploded sub-munitions
littering roads, schools, wells, houses, gardens and fields," he
Nash and others at Landmine Action, a London-based group that carried
out the study, said cluster munitions have seriously affected livelihoods
by blocking water supplies, disrupting work to restore power lines and
preventing excavation of rubble.
The research points out that due to the presence of cluster munitions,
most farmers were unable to harvest in the summer and it would be hard
for them to plant new crops in the winter.
UN officials at the Department of Peacekeeping Operations who are constantly
monitoring the situation in south Lebanon agree with Nash and other
"This study reflects the reality on the ground," Justin Brady,
a planning officer at the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations,
Brady said that in collaboration with several non-governmental organisations,
the UN has been engaged in de-mining operations in southern Lebanon
since September, and that so far it has cleared over 45,000 cluster
"We could be facing up to one million of them," he said, "but
they are certainly in hundreds of thousands."
Alarmed by the devastation that cluster munitions have caused to human
life and the environment in south Lebanon, Landmine Action and many
other groups are now launching a campaign to ban such weapons.
Civil society pressure has already led to a ban on the use of cluster
munitions by Belgium in February 2006 and similar national campaigns
are underway in Austria, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and
Groups have also called on Britain, one of the world's largest users
of the weapons, to immediately stop the use of cluster munitions, destroy
stockpiles and support an international ban.
An international meeting is due to take place in Geneva next month to
discuss the use of cluster munitions, but activists said that they expect
certain states would try hard to block progress by arguing that they
can be used in a precise or surgical way.
While a growing number of countries now acknowledge the humanitarian
problems of cluster munitions, so far only Belgium and Norway have officially
stopped their use.
But key states such as Israel, Britain, the United States and Russia
claim that their cluster munitions are legal.
Activists argue that if that is the case, then the consistent pattern
of civilian harm caused by these weapons, of which the casualty toll
in Lebanon is only the most recent example, makes it clear that international
law is inadequate.
"The claim that these faulty weapons can be used in a precise or
surgical way is a lie. The evidence is there to see littering the ruined
houses and olive groves of southern Lebanon," said Landmine Action
Director Simon Conway.
"Every day, women and children are killed or injured as they sift
through the rubble of their former homes by cluster munitions that failed
to go off when they should have," he added. "If they were
any other kind of product, they would have been recalled. They should
Groups like Landmine Action accuse Israel of violating a 1976 secret
agreement that restricted the use of certain US-supplied cluster munitions.
They say the repeated violations since the 1970s highlight the complete
inadequacy of such bilateral assurances as a basis for civilian protection
from these weapons.
Researchers note that despite repeated breaches, last year, the United
States granted a license worth over $600,000 for the sale of 1,300 M26
cluster rockets to Israel. Israel had requested speedy delivery of these
rockets during the war, but the US State Department was still considering
Various UN agencies had already endorsed the NGOs' demand by calling
for a freeze on these weapons in 2003, the Peacekeeping Department's
Brady said, adding that he expected the same this time round.
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