The day before the Israeli Foreign Ministry issued a statement indicating that there is nothing illegal about Israel’s use of cluster bombs, the Israeli Ambassador to Washington claimed that Israel had not used cluster bombs in the conflict.
When asked by Sam Husseini, of the Institute for Public Accuracy in Washington, "Are you using cluster bombs in Lebanon?" Israeli ambassador Daniel Ayalon replied on Sunday: "No, we are not. We are not using anything which is not approved by the UN Conventions and Charters."
But according to the New York Times, Israeli General Gantz admitted to using cluster bombs during the current conflict. “We try to minimize their use,” said General Gantz. “We only use them in designated areas that have been closed even by Hezbollah itself.”
General Gantz is famous for having been "the last Israeli to leave southern Lebanon in the pullout six years ago after the country’s 18-year presence there", according to a New York Times article.
In that conflict, too, Israel admitted that its forces had used U.S.-supplied cluster bombs. In June 1982, during the early part of the Israel-Lebanon War that would last for the next eighteen years, "Maj. Gen. Aharon Yariv, of the Israeli northern command, was forced to admit the use of cluster bombs by Israel when confronted with the evidence of casings and shrapnel discovered in the bodies of multiple civilian victims. At the time, he stated, "Cluster bombs and cluster shells were used only against organized resistance, mainly the Syrians’ armor and infantry. They were not used against civilians and not in civilian areas – I mean, civilian areas where there were great concentrations of civilians."
And in the current conflict, evidence has again emerged that implicates Israeli use of the internationally-banned weapon. As early as July 24, Human Rights Watch had reported that Israel "has used artillery-fired cluster munitions in populated areas of Lebanon. Researchers on the ground in Lebanon confirmed that a cluster munitions attack on the village of Blida on July 19 killed one and wounded at least 12 civilians, including seven children. Human Rights Watch researchers also photographed cluster munitions in the arsenal of Israeli artillery teams on the Israel-Lebanon border", according to the New York Times.
The group identified the munitions as "M483A1 Dual Purpose Improved Conventional Munitions, which are U.S.-produced and -supplied, artillery-delivered cluster munitions" and added: "Human Rights Watch believes that the use of cluster munitions in populated areas may violate the prohibition on indiscriminate attacks contained in international humanitarian law."
In a parallel to the situation in 1982, after the Israeli army was forced to publicly admit its use of the banned weaponry, the United States government was disclosed to have been the supplier – and in a further parallel, has continued to supply Israel with the banned weaponry even after the public admission of its use.
*this article was sourced from the Institute for Public Accuracy, human rights reports, the Palestine News Network, and the New York Times