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Israeli army: use of cluster bombs during Lebanon war legal

By Xinhua

Jerusalem : Israel’s use of cluster bombs during the Second Lebanon War was in accordance with international law, Israeli army’s Advocate General Avichai Mendelblit said in a ruling published on Monday.

Accordingly, army officers who ordered the use of the cluster bombs will not face disciplinary or legal action, local Ha’aretz reported on its website.

Israeli artillery corps reportedly fired some 2,400 cluster bombs at Lebanon during the fighting with Hezbollah gunmen. Several months after the war, Israeli army launched an investigation aimed at examining whether cluster bombs were used against procedure.

In a statement, the army said that its chief investigator Maj. Gen. Gershon HaCohen determined it was clear that the majority of the cluster munitions were fired at open and uninhabited areas, where Hezbollah forces operated and no civilians were present.

It also said that cluster bombs were fired at residential areas only as an immediate defense response to rocket attacks by Hezbollah and that Israeli troops did everything possible to minimize civilian casualties.

The conclusions were passed on to Mendelblit, who accepted the recommendation and decided not to press charges.

A cluster bomb is a bomb that ejects a number of smaller bomblets during explosion. Theses bomblets usually go off shortly after the launch.

The United Nations and human rights groups accused Israel of dropping about four million cluster bomblets during the war. Up to one million failed to explode and now endanger civilians in the area.

More than 30 people have been killed by cluster bomb and landmine explosions in Lebanon since the summer war of 2006 between Hezbollah and Israel, the report said.