Friday, September 15, 2006

"Insane and monstrous" cluster-bombing

CHILDREN often main victims
of devil's toyshop

"What we did was insane and monstrous, we covered entire towns in cluster bombs" said the head of an Israeli army rocket unit in Lebanon, quoted by Meron Rappaport in the daily Ha'aretz a few days ago.

Quoting his battalion commander, the rocket unit head stated that the IDF fired around 1,800 cluster bombs, containing over 1.2 million cluster bomblets. In addition, soldiers in IDF artillery units testified that the army used phosphorus shells during the war, widely forbidden by international law.

Confirming what UN observers alleged, the officers said the vast majority of the explosive ordinance was fired in the final 10 days of the war. The rocket unit commander stated that Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) platforms were heavily used in spite of the fact that they were known to be highly inaccurate. MLRS is a track or tire carried mobile rocket launching platform, capable of firing a very high volume of mostly unguided munitions.

The basic rocket fired by the platform is unguided and imprecise, with a range of about 32 kilometers. The rockets are designed to burst into sub-munitions at a planned altitude in order to blanket enemy army and personnel on the ground with smaller explosive rounds. The use of such weaponry is controversial mainly due to its inaccuracy and ability to wreak great havoc against indeterminate targets over large areas of territory, with a margin of error of as much as 1,200 meters from the intended target to the area hit.

The cluster rounds which don't detonate on impact, believed by the United Nations to be around 40% of those fired by the IDF in Lebanon, remain on the ground as unexploded munitions, effectively littering the landscape with thousands of land mines which will continue to claim victims long after the war has ended. Because of their high level of failure to detonate, it is believed that there are around 500,000 unexploded munitions on the ground in Lebanon.

To date 12 Lebanese civilians have been killed by these mines since the end of the war.According to the commander, in order to compensate for the inaccuracy of the rockets and the inability to strike individual targets precisely, units would "flood" the battlefield with munitions, accounting for the littered and explosive landscape of post-war Lebanon. When his reserve duty came to a close, the commander in question sent a letter to Defense Minister Amir Peretz outlining the use of cluster munitions, a letter which has remained unanswered.

It has come to light that IDF soldiers fired phosphorus rounds in order to cause fires in Lebanon. An artillery commander has admitted to seeing trucks loaded with phosphorus rounds on their way to artillery crews in the north of Israel.A direct hit from a phosphorus shell typically causes severe burns and a slow, painful death. International law forbids the use of weapons that cause "excessive injury and unnecessary suffering", and many experts are of the opinion that phosphorus rounds fall directly in that category.

The International Red Cross has determined that international law forbids the use of phosphorus and other types of flammable rounds against personnel, both civilian and military.

Those most likely to be killed or maimed by cluster bomb minelets are farmers working in their fields, children and other innocents. "Cluster bombs are delivered by a large canister and disperse over awide area, a sort of lethal piñata. The bomblets come in many sizes.Some are tiny, even smaller than 2 inches in diameter. Kids are constantly trying to kick them or pick them up with the result in the loss an arm or leg or even death."
September 2 / 3, 2006
Blanket Immunity from War Crimes
When Criticism of Cluster Bombs is "Anti-Semitic" , by STANLEY HELLER

But during the Lebanon war the council of rabbis in the West Bank settlements issued a statement that in war, there is no such thing as "innocents" among "the enemy". Before the soldiers spoke out the head of Germany's Jewish community council, Charlotte Knobloch, accused a minister in Angela Merkel's government of "antisemitism" for saying the UN should investigate Israel's use of cluster bombs. And even as the soldiers were making their frank comments about cluster bombs and phosphorus it was reported that a delegation of visiting rabbis urged the Israeli forces to abandon their supposed restraints on endangering civilians. So much for religion as a brake on barbarity.

We know that US supplies of bunker-busting bombs such as used at Kana were rushed to Israel via British airfields. I don't know whether the cluster-bombs were also US-made. From the Vietnam war to Iraq and Afghanistan, US forces have used cluster bombs. During the NATO intervention in Yugoslavia the US forces dropped 1,100 cluster bombs, each scattering about 200 bomblets, while RAF planes dropped 531. Earlier during the wars in Croatia and Bosnia there were reports of Serb forces using cluster-type munitions supplied by Hunting Engineering, a company based in Ampthill, Bedfordshire. In 2001 this became INSYS, which is now owned by Lockheed. It supplies munitions used by Apache helicopters.

After the 1982 Lebanon war the Reagan administration introduced a temporary ban on cluster bomb sales to Israel saying they had been misused. A campaign launched during the latest Lebanon war to stop British military supplies to Israel says:

The UK licensed arms sales to Israel worth £22.5m in 2005 – more than twice the amount in the previous year. These licences included military equipment such as weapon control systems, ammunition and components for rockets, tanks and
combat aircraft, all of which have been used in the occupied
territories. The F-16 fighter jets and Apache combat helicopters which were recently used to bomb towns and villages in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon contained significant UK components.



At 6:36 PM, Blogger Jim Jay said...

Hey Charlie.

Good to see you the other day, thanks for coming up - everyone is full of praise for you.

Anyway at Dave's Part there is a poll for "second best" lefties blog (after himself)

You are on the list, to vote go to

Currently my vote for you has not pushed you into the lead as yet. you need to mobilise your followers!

At 12:24 AM, Blogger Charlie Pottins said...

Thanks Jim,
Glad to know my visit was useful, and I enjoyed meeting and discussing with people.

About the blog, I would not like to vote for myself or solicit people for a most-unsocialist competition!
I am glad to pick up more readers, but hope we can mobilise for political action against the class enemy and its agents!

I find other socialist blogs like Dave's Part and Socialist Unity always informative and stimulating, and don't mind sharing attention with them (or pinching their info and ideas!)
I'll save my competitive instincts for the pub quiz, when again it works best to be in a good team!

At 3:44 PM, Blogger geordie said...

Your information on the MLRS system is wildly inaccurate, the six submunition version was the terminally guided variant which was scrapped in the mid 90s, days before the first successful firing. The M26 cluster rocket carries 644 M77 submunitions. 644, not 6. When you use careless research it destroys the authority of your argument, you become just another ill informed ranter. Check your facts! Even BL-755 contains 147 submunitions in 7 bays of 21.


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