Surprise, surprise: After a year investigating itself, the Israeli military (OK, its prosecutors) concluded that it was justified in using cluster bomblets -- millions of them -- in its war with Lebanon last year. The reports tell us that, "the matter is now closed." Well, that depends on whom you ask. Entities such as human rights groups and the United Nations beg to differ with the Israeli military.
The United Nations called the use of the devastating bombs in the final three days of the fight, when the end of the conflict was clearly in sight, "shocking and immoral." The bombs, which were dropped in populated areas, farms, etc., have a 30 percent failure rate, meaning that they explode later, and many have been doing so over the past year.
Just last week, a 35-year-old man collecting firewood died instantly when one of the Israeli bombs went off. In fact, more than 30 people have died in a similar fashion since the end of Israel's war with Hezbollah. The Daily Star of Lebanon reports that an additional 200 have been wounded by the bombs, most of which were dropped in the final 72 hours of the war. For these victims, the matter is far from closed.
Earlier this month, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for a ban on cluster bombs at a conference in Vienna, Austria (which the U.S. declined to attend), where 130 nations gathered to consider a ban.
This isn't a morally ambiguous issue. The use of these bombs, which in effect linger on as landmines and continue killing long after wars are over, is wrong, and Israel was wrong to use them when the end of the war was imminent. Its military might not be able to see that, but the rest of the world can.
© 2007 The Seattle Post-Intelligencer