Friday, December 29, 2006

Merry Christmas! UXO in Lebanon!

Yeah, its a little late but this actually happened on Christmas and Christmas Eve Day...(UXO = unexploded ordinance)

From the USG Lebanon Situation Report on the Lebanon Humanitarian Emergency (#10):

On December 24 and 25, two separate UXO–related accidents injured three people in Tyre (Sur), and two children near Nabatiye, according to international media reports. Since the ceasefire, the National Demining Office has received nearly 200 reports of UXO incidents. To date, the USG has provided more than $9 million for UXO clearance and demining activities as well as mine risk awareness and victim assistance efforts.

Stop cluster munitions - stop killing civilians has more information on the history of the use of cluster munitions by Israel against the Lebanese people.

An article by Frida Berrigan has more information about the Israeli breach of civilised norms and secret commitments to the United States, the supplier of several of the cluster munitions and delivery systems (like the MLRS):

The State Department is investigating Israel's use of American-made cluster bombs during the war in Lebanon - in particular, whether Israel broke a secret agreement made with the United States in 1967 not to use cluster bombs against civilians. In their October 2006 report "Foreseeable Harm," Landmine Action disclosed the conditions of the agreement, including the stipulation that Israel was to use cluster munitions "only for defensive purposes, against fortified military targets, and only if attacked by two or more 'Arab states.' " Additionally, the secret provisions prohibit use of the bombs except against "regular forces of a sovereign nation" and in "special wartime conditions," according to the administration and congressional officials. The arrangement gave the IDF greater latitude than the typical regulations that require foreign governments to use U.S.-origin military items solely for internal security and legitimate self-defense.

There have not been any follow-up reports in the media on the status of the State Department's investigation, or its conclusions. Calls to the Office of Defense Compliance by In These Times requesting more information were not returned. But it does not take months of careful study to conclude that the IDF flagrantly violated U.S. law as well as the secret agreement made to skirt that law, to say nothing of the Geneva Conventions.

And then there is the timing. During the last three days of the war - as the final touches on the peace agreement were being made - Israel dumped an estimated 1.2 million bomblets throughout Lebanon, a country smaller than Connecticut. Jan Egeland, the U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, was decidedly undiplomatic in his assessment: "What is shocking and, I would say, to me, completely immoral is that 90 percent of the cluster bomb strikes occurred in the last 72 hours of the conflict, when we knew there would be a resolution." [Frida Berrigan, Scoop]

If this sort of thing upsets you, and you want to do something to stop the U.S. proliferation of these weapons of mass destruction, there is an event you can attend tomorrow (Saturday):

Jack Rossbach’s Banning Landmines Birthday Party
Saturday December 30, 6:00- 9:00 St. Martin’s Table
2001 Riverside Ave., Mpls

Jack will no doubt have updates on the progress of the global campaign to ban landmines, and the parallel effort to ban cluster weapons, and have a list of charities you might donate to or actions you can take to address this outrage. If you can't make it to this event, one recurring event by an organization that has taken on cluster muntions, landmines, and depleted uranium munitions is the weekly vigil at Alliant Teksystems, 7-8 AM on Wednesday mornings. There are dozens of other peace-related events every week in the Twin Cities metro area...

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