Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Cluster Bombs in Lebanon

I've already discussed David Bernstein's contention that civilian casualties in the Lebanon war last summer were considerably lower than originally thought, a result that-"if true"-he finds to be "unprecedented in modern warfare." However, reading articles such as this one, it is difficult to argue that the IDF did not operate with a high degree of recklessness and disregard for civilian casualties during the offensive:
The US State Department said last week that Israel "likely could have" misused American-supplied cluster bombs by peppering civilian areas from which, Israel says, Hizbullah was operating. Similar Israeli usage in 1982 led to a six-year ban of US sales of the controversial weapon, though analysts do not expect such a sanction of the US ally today.

But as UN-organized demining teams toil across olive groves and tobacco farms to destroy what they call an "unprecedented" concentration of the controversial cluster bombs here, the casualties continue to mount.

The Zayoun family alone accounts for three of a postwar Lebanese toll that today stands at 184 wounded and 30 dead.

Father Mohammed blames himself for picking up the small metal cylinder and putting it in his bag while cutting thyme in a field that had been marked with red and white warning tape.

Just after nightfall, with the house lit only by a few candles, his 4-year-old daughter Aya Zayoun found the cluster bomb in her father's bag outside. She took it inside to the living room and handed it to her older sister, Rasha, who thought it was a toy bell.

Then it exploded.

It cannot be argued that these casualties were not a direct result of the summer war even though they occurred place months later. It is also difficult to argue that the IDF acted with great restraint when they deliberately bombed civilian populated areas with such munitions. I do not argue that they did so as part of a campaign to depopulate southern Lebanon. However, their disregard for the effects of these weapons on civilians does not at all comport with an "unprecedented" effort to avoid civilians casualties.

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