Posted on February 02, 2007 in Press Releases
WASHINGTON – Feb. 1, 2007 – As the State Department announced its decision to notify Congress of likely Israeli violations of U.S. law in its use of cluster bombs in Lebanese civilian areas, the Arab American Institute (AAI) renewed its calls for humanitarian and political action. On Monday, the State Department sent the results of its preliminary investigation into a possible Israeli breach of the Arms Export Control Act to Congress.
AAI again called for the prohibition of U.S. tax dollars from being spent to acquire, utilize, sell or transfer cluster munitions, and for Israel to disclose details of its use of cluster bombs in order to prevent further casualties among innocent Lebanese civilians and peacekeeping forces.
According to the United Nations Mine Action Service, tens of thousands of deadly bomblets from cluster bombs have been found in southern Lebanon and have caused 30 deaths and 180 casualties among civilians since the end of the war in the summer of 2006. The unexploded bomblets disproportionately kill and permanently maim children, as they appear harmless and often scatter in the fields where children play.
It was reported by the Christian Science Monitor that 90 percent of the cluster bombs were dropped during the last 72 hours of the war, “when all parties knew a cease-fire was imminent.”
Israel has admitted to dropping thousands of American-made cluster bombs in Lebanon during the war. Use of cluster bombs in civilian areas is a violation of the Geneva Conventions and would also violate the Arms Export Control Act, which Israel agreed to in purchasing the munitions from the U.S.
AAI believes that if a final State Department investigation determines that Israel violated U.S. law, as seems likely, President Bush should use his authority to impose sanctions on Israel. Should he choose not to, Congress should take legislative action to sanction Israel to uphold the integrity of the law.
AAI noted that such sanctions against Israel would not be unprecedented. In 1982, the Reagan Administration levied a six-year ban on the sale of cluster-munitions to Israel after it used the weapons in civilian areas of Lebanon during its 1982 invasion.