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Israel: cluster bomb use was legal

  • Story Highlights
  • Israel: Use of cluster bombs during last year's war with Hezbollah legal
  • No charges against military officers who ordered use of the U.S.-made bombs
  • Investigation findings reported by Brig. Gen. Avihai Mendelblit on Monday
  • Enormous damage and casualties sparked an outcry by rights groups
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JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israel's military advocate general said the use of cluster bombs by the country's armed forces during last year's war with Hezbollah in southern Lebanon was done so in accordance with international law and, as a result, he will not file charges against any military officers who ordered their use.


A Lebanese man sits with a cluster bomb, other Israeli shells and mines that failed to explode upon landing.

The findings were reported by Brig. Gen. Avihai Mendelblit on Monday.

"Based on the evidence gathered by the Investigating Officer, it was clear that (the) majority of the cluster munitions were fired at open and uninhabited areas, areas from which Hezbollah forces operated and in which no civilians were present."

The enormous collateral damage and civilian casualties in southern Lebanon caused an outcry by rights groups and Arabs governance about the use of cluster bombs.

Last January, preliminary findings of a State Department investigation into Israel's use of U.S.-made cluster bombs in the war showed the Israeli army likely violated agreements with the United States governing their use, a State Department report said.

"There may -- likely could have been some violations," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.

The State Department sent a report to Congress laying out the preliminary findings, he said. Agreements under the Arms Export Control Act govern use of munitions sold by the United States. Those agreements are confidential.

While there is no international treaty in effect regulating cluster bombs, according to Human Rights Watch, their use is restricted under international humanitarian law. Nations are expected to clean up areas where they used cluster bombs once a conflict ends. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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