US attacks Israel's cluster bomb use

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The Independent US

The controversy about Israel's use of cluster bombs during its conflict with Hizbollah in July last year will reopen today when the US State Department publishes its draft report, which concludes that the American-made weapons were misused in civilian areas.

Israel received widespread condemnation last year after it was accused of littering Lebanon with thousands of unexploded bombs in the final hours of its war.

At the time Chris Clarke, the United Nations official in charge of bomb disposal in southern Lebanon, said his staff had identified 390 strikes by Israel's cluster munitions. "This is ... the worst post-conflict cluster bomb contamination I have ever seen," he said.

The State Department will reportedly say that Israel breached agreements with the US over its use of the weapons, which can kill or injure a disproportionate number of children when they fail to explode and then are picked up or trod on.

A congressional investigation found Israel improperly used US-made cluster bombs during its 1982 invasion of Lebanon. President Ronald Reagan's administration imposed a six-year ban on sales of the weapons to Israel. However, the country also makes its own cluster munitions.

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