News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: Israel Using Notorious Anti-Personnel Weapons?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Israel Using Notorious Anti-Personnel Weapons?

Is Israel using cluster bombs in Lebanon? DefenseTech raises some suspicions in that direction in a recent posting. They publish a picture of a car that has minimal damage yet has been blown off the road. ...

Cluster bombs are notoriously lethal and powerful. They're powerful enough to knock out tanks, as the following notes, and they're lethal to civilians.

Defense Tech writes:

The U.S. Air Force since the late 1990s has had a guided weapon that disperses guided submunitions (each packing the punch of a hand grenade), each bomb capable of taking out a company of tanks. It's called the Sensor Fuzed Weapon. explains:

The Sensor Fuzed Weapon [SFW] is an unpowered, top attack, wide area, cluster munition, designed to achieve multiple kills per aircraft pass against enemy armor and support vehicles. After release, the TMD opens and dispenses the ten submunitions which are parachute stabilized. Each of the 10 BLU-108/B submunitions contains four armor-penetrating projectiles with infrared sensors to detect armored targets.

Defense Industry Daily appropriately calls the SFW "cans of whup-ass".

Israel is a known consumer of American Joint Direct Attack Munitions and a producer of laser-guided bombs. Has it gotten into the SFW game too, either with American weapons or its own similar design?

If so, I'm not surprised they've kept it under wraps. This is a cluster bomb we're talking about, the kind of weapon notorious for accidentally taking out civilians who might be milling around the battlefield. [my emphasis]
According to Wikipedia, cluster bombs are designed to target human beings:
Cluster bombs were developed in order to improve the efficiency of aerial attacks, particularly against "soft" targets like personnel. Single bombs are less useful for this purpose because they cover a smaller area (known as a "footprint" in military parlance), and their effectiveness is dependent on the accuracy of the bomb's drop. A cluster bomb functions like a shotgun, covering a wider area with a spread of miniature bombs.
Because of this, the Red Cross and other organizations devoted to protecting civilians during war have protested their use.
The particular threat this weapon poses to civilians exists for two main reasons. First, because of the weapon's very wide area of effect, accidentally striking both civilian and military objects in the target area is possible. The area affected by a single cluster munition, also known as the footprint, can be as large as two or three football fields. This characteristic of the weapon is particularly problematic for civilians when cluster munitions are used in or near populated areas and has been documented by research reports from groups such as Human Rights Watch and Landmine Action[1]. Secondly, depending on type and their use, between 1% and 40% of the bomblets do not explode on impact[2]. These unexploded ordnance (duds) present a particularly dense and dangerous form of post-conflict contamination and may unintentionally act like anti-personnel land mines (which have been banned in many countries under the Ottawa Treaty) for several years.
Update 1 Laura Rozen, Washington Post reporter, links to an NYT article showing that Israel has requested cluster bombs for use in its invasion of Lebanon. In the selection that Rozen quotes, we find that Israel used these weapons before, which caused the US to deny previous sales of them to Israel:
During much of the 1980’s, the United States maintained a moratorium on selling cluster munitions to Israel, following disclosures that civilians in Lebanon had been killed with the weapons during the 1982 Israeli invasion. But the moratorium was lifted late in the Reagan administration, and since then, the United States has sold Israel some types of cluster munitions, the senior official said. ...

Last month, the advocacy group Human Rights Watch said its researchers had uncovered evidence that Israel had fired cluster munitions on July 19 at the Lebanese village of Bilda, which the group said had killed one civilian and wounded at least 12 others, including 7 children. The group said it had interviewed survivors of the attack, who described incoming artillery shells dispensing hundreds of cluster submunitions on the village.

Human Rights Watch also released photographs, taken recently by its researchers in northern Israel, of what it said were American-supplied artillery shells that had markings showing they carried cluster munitions.


Anonymous said...

Didn't Israel use white phosphorus on Lebanese civilians as well? Cluster bombs were also used by Israel during their 1982 invasion of Lebanon. Before this most recent attack on Lebanon, Israel was being criticised for not giving the Lebanese government maps to the location of the land mines they left in Southern Lebanon during their occupation.

the cynic librarian said...

I talked about this in a previous post. Sinoira himself said this and RawStory had videos. But as with the use of "Willy Pete" by US troops at Falluja, Israel maintains that the weapon is not banned by international treaties.