Israeli Cluster Munitions Hit Civilians in Lebanon
Israel Must Not Use Indiscriminate Weapons
(Beirut, July 24, 2006) – Israel has used artillery-fired cluster munitions in populated areas of Lebanon, Human Rights Watch said today. Researchers on the ground in Lebanon confirmed that a cluster munitions attack on the village of Blida on July 19 killed one and wounded at least 12 civilians, including seven children. Human Rights Watch researchers also photographed cluster munitions in the arsenal of Israeli artillery teams on the Israel-Lebanon border.
“Cluster munitions are unacceptably inaccurate and unreliable weapons when used around civilians,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “They should never be used in populated areas.”
According to eyewitnesses and survivors of the attack interviewed by Human Rights Watch, Israel fired several artillery-fired cluster munitions at Blida around 3 p.m. on July 19. The witnesses described how the artillery shells dropped hundreds of cluster submunitions on the village. They clearly described the submunitions as smaller projectiles that emerged from their larger shells.
The cluster attack killed 60-year-old Maryam Ibrahim inside her home. At least two submunitions from the attack entered the basement that the Ali family was using as a shelter, wounding 12 persons, including seven children. Ahmed Ali, a 45-year-old taxi driver and head of the family, lost both legs from injuries caused by the cluster munitions. Five of his children were wounded: Mira, 16; Fatima, 12; ‘Ali, 10; Aya, 3; and `Ola, 1. His wife Akram Ibrahim, 35, and his mother-in-law `Ola Musa, 80, were also wounded. Four relatives, all German-Lebanese dual nationals sheltering with the family, were wounded as well: Mohammed Ibrahim, 45; his wife Fatima, 40; and their children ‘Ali, 16, and Rula, 13.
Human Rights Watch researchers photographed artillery-delivered cluster munitions among the arsenal of Israel Defense Forces (IDF) artillery teams stationed on the Israeli-Lebanese border during a research visit on July 23. The photographs show M483A1 Dual Purpose Improved Conventional Munitions, which are U.S.-produced and -supplied, artillery-delivered cluster munitions. The photographs contain the distinctive marks of such cluster munitions, including a diamond-shaped stamp, and a shape that is longer than ordinary artillery, according to a retired IDF commander who asked not to be identified.
Pallets of 155mm artillery projectiles including DPICM cluster munitions (center and right with yellow diamonds) in the arsenal of an IDF artillery unit on July 23 in northern Israel. Each DPICM shell contains 88 sub-munitions, which have a dud rate of up to 14 percent. © Human Rights Watch 2006
The M483A1 artillery shells deliver 88 cluster submunitions per shell, and have an unacceptably high failure rate (dud rate) of 14 percent, leaving behind a serious unexploded ordnance problem that will further endanger civilians. The commander said that the IDF’s operations manual warns soldiers that the use of such cluster munitions creates dangerous minefields due to the high dud rate.
Lebanese security forces, who to date have not engaged in the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah, also accused Israel of using cluster munitions in its attacks on Blida and other Lebanese border villages. These sources also indicated they have evidence that Israel used cluster munitions earlier this year during fighting with Hezbollah around the contested Shebaa Farms area. Human Rights Watch is continuing to investigate these additional allegations.
Human Rights Watch believes that the use of cluster munitions in populated areas may violate the prohibition on indiscriminate attacks contained in international humanitarian law. The wide dispersal pattern of their submunitions makes it very difficult to avoid civilian casualties if civilians are in the area. Moreover, because of their high failure rate, cluster munitions leave large numbers of hazardous, explosive duds that injure and kill civilians even after the attack is over. Human Rights Watch believes that cluster munitions should never be used, even away from civilians, unless their dud rate is less than 1 percent.
Human Rights Watch conducted detailed analyses of the U.S. military’s use of cluster bombs in the 1999 Yugoslavia war, the 2001-2002 Afghanistan war, and the 2003 Iraq war. Human Rights Watch research established that the use of cluster munitions in populated areas in Iraq caused more civilian casualties than any other factor in the U.S.-led coalition’s conduct of major military operations in March and April 2003, killing and wounding more than 1,000 Iraqi civilians. Roughly a quarter of the 500 civilian deaths caused by NATO bombing in the 1999 Yugoslavia war were also due to cluster munitions.
“Our research in Iraq and Kosovo shows that cluster munitions cannot be used in populated areas without huge loss of civilian life,” Roth said. “Israel must stop using cluster bombs in Lebanon at once.”
Human Rights Watch called upon the Israel Defense Forces to immediately cease the use of indiscriminate weapons like cluster munitions in Lebanon.
Israel used cluster munitions in Lebanon in 1978 and in the 1980s. At that time, the United States placed restrictions on their use and then a moratorium on the transfer of cluster munitions to Israel out of concern for civilian casualties. Those weapons used more than two decades ago continue to affect Lebanon.
Israel has in its arsenal cluster munitions delivered by aircraft, artillery and rockets. Israel is a major producer and exporter of cluster munitions, primarily artillery projectiles and rockets containing M85 DPICM (Dual Purpose Improved Conventional Munition) submunitions. Israeli Military Industries, an Israeli government-owned weapons manufacturer, has reportedly produced more than 60 million M85 DPICM submunitions. Israel also produces at least six different types of air-dropped cluster bombs, and has imported from the United States M26 rockets for its Multiple Launch Rocket Systems.
There is growing international momentum to stop the use of cluster munitions. Belgium became the first country to ban cluster munitions in February 2006, and Norway announced a moratorium on the weapon in June 2006. Cluster munitions are increasingly the focus of discussion at the meetings of the Convention on Conventional Weapons, with ever more states calling for a new international instrument dealing with cluster munitions.
Human Rights Watch is a founding member, and a steering committee member, of the Cluster Munition Coalition: www.stopclustermunitions.org.
ARMS TRADE RESOURCE CENTER
U.S. Arms Transfers and Security Assistance to Israel
An Arms Trade Resource Center Fact Sheet
by William D. Hartung and Frida Berrigan
May 6, 2002
U.S. press coverage of Israeli attacks on the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian towns on the West Bank often treat the U.S. government as either an innocent bystander or an honest broker in the current conflict, often without giving a full sense of the importance of the United States role as a supplier of arms, aid, and military technology to Israel. In its role as Israel’s primary arms supplier, the United States could exert significant potential leverage over Israeli behavior in the conflict, if it chooses to do so.
Military and Economic Aid
Since 1976, Israel had been the largest annual recipient of U.S. foreign assistance. According to a November 2001 Congressional Research Service report, Israel: U.S. Foreign Assistance, U.S. aid to Israel in the last half century has totaled a whopping $81.3 billion.
In recent years, Israel remains the top recipient of U.S. military and economic assistance. The most commonly cited figure is $3 billion a year, with about $1.8 billion a year in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) grants from the Department of Defense and an additional $1.2 billion a year in Economic Support Funds (ESF) from the Department of State. In the last decade FMF grants to Israel have totaled $18.2 billion. In fact, 17% of all U.S. foreign aid is earmarked for Israel.
For 2003, the Bush administration is proposing that Israel receive $2.76 billion in foreign aid, with $2.1 billion in FMF and $600 million in ESF. An additional $28 million will go to Israel for the purchase U.S. manufactured counter terrorism equipment.
Weapons Sales and Grants
Israel is one of the United State’s largest arms importers. In the last decade, the United States has sold Israel $7.2 billion in weaponry and military equipment, $762 million through Direct Commercial Sales (DCS), more than $6.5 billion through the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program.
In fact, Israel is so devoted to U.S. military hardware that it has the world's largest fleet of F-16s outside the U.S., currently possessing more than 200 jets. Another 102 F-16s are on order from Lockheed Martin.
The United States has also underwritten Israel’s domestic armaments industry, by giving:
$1.3 billion to develop the Lavi aircraft (cancelled)
$625 million to develop and deploy the Arrow anti-missile missile (an ongoing project)
$200 million to develop the Merkava tank (operative); the latest version, the Merkava 4, uses a German V-12 diesel engine produced under license in the U.S. by General Dynamics
$130 million to develop the high-energy laser anti-missile system (ongoing).
While overall aid to Israel is slated to decrease over the next five years, military aid will increase significantly. One of President Clinton’s last acts was to sign an agreement with Israel, phasing out the ESF by 2008. At the same time, FMF funds to Israel will increase $60 million each year, reaching $2.4 billion by 2008.
Free Weapons to Israel
The U.S. also gives Israel weapons and ammunition as part of the Excess Defense Articles (EDA) program, providing these articles completely free of charge. Between 1994-2001 the U.S. provided many weapons through this program, including:
64,744 M-16A1 rifles
2,469 M-204 grenade launchers
1,500 M-2 .50 caliber machine guns
.30 caliber, .50 caliber, and 20mm ammunition
U.S. Weapons in the Israeli Arsenal
Weapon Quantity Manufacturer Cost Per Unit
F-4E Phantom 50 Boeing $18.4 million
F-15 Eagle 98 Boeing (originally McDonnell Douglas) $38 million
F-16 Fighting 237 Lockheed Martin $34.3 million
AH-64 Apache Attack 42 Boeing
Cobra Attack 57 Bell Textron
CH-53D Sea Stallion 38 Sikorsky
Blackhawk 25 Sikorsky $11 million
AGM 65 Maverick Raytheon $17,000-$110,000
AGM 114 Hellfire Boeing $40,000
Hughes AIM 7 Hughes Sparrow $180,000
AIM 7 Sparrow
Raytheon AIM 9 Sidewinder Raytheon $125,000
AIM 9 Sidewinder
Raytheon AIM 120 B AMRAAN $84,000
AIM 120 B AMRAAM
Raytheon PATRIOT $386,000
Raytheon and Lockheed Martin
Harpoon Anti-Ship Missile Boeing $720,000
Hezbollah militants are proving difficult to pinpoint and attack, in part because they are armed with relatively simple, highly mobile equipment.
The militants are known to have mortars, guided anti-tank missiles, recoilless rifles, anti-aircraft guns and surface-to-air missile systems such a the SA-7.
While known to have thousands of small Katyusha rockets, Hezbollah is also thought to have larger rockets with a range of 40 kilometres or more.
Israel has targeted Hezbollah's truck-mounted rocket launchers, which are easily concealed to look like civilian vehicles when not being fired.
Truck-mounted launcher, armed with Fajr-5 missiles
Truck-mounted launcher (concealed)
SOURCE: CSIS, IIS, FAS
U.S. Department of Defense statement on Israel, in Joint Report to Congress, January 3, 2001
The scale of Israeli attacks on Palestinian towns and refugee camps in the West Bank has been "disproportionate and often reckless," according to a recent Amnesty International report. Amnesty estimates that in the six weeks from March 1, through mid-April, more than 600 Palestinians have been killed and over 3,000 wounded by Israeli soldiers.
The use of U.S. weapons in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian authority appears to be a clear violation of the U.S. Arms Export Control Act prohibiting U.S. weapons from being used for non-defensive purposes. The State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2001, released in March 2002, stated that the IDF employed "excessive use of force" against the Palestinians, noting their use of live ammunition, even when not in imminent danger.
The State Department report also stated that Israeli military "shelled Palestinian Authority (PA) institutions and Palestinian civilian areas in response to individual Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians or settlers." These comments demonstrate that the U.S. knows that weapons are not being used for the "legitimate defense" purposes stipulated in the Arms Export Control Act.
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan recently expressed his concern with the use of U.S. weapons by the IDF, saying,
“I feel obliged to call your attention to disturbing patterns in the treatment of civilians and humanitarian relief workers by the Israeli Defense Forces…. Judging from the means and methods employed by the IDF-- F-16 fighter-bombers, helicopter and naval gunships, missiles and bombs of heavy tonnage-- the fighting has come to resemble all-out conventional warfare. In the process, hundreds of innocent noncombatant civilians -- men, women and children -- have been injured or killed, and many buildings and homes have been damaged or destroyed. Tanks have been deployed in densely populated refugee camps and in towns and villages; and heavy explosives have been dropped mere meters from schools where thousands of children were in attendance.”
Might in the air will not defeat guerillas in this bitter conflict
Military Briefing By Charles Heyman
AFTER Israeli forces withdrew from Lebanon under pressure from Hezbollah in 2000, there was a rethink at the Israeli Ministry of Defence in Tel Aviv. It resulted in a counter-guerrilla doctrine called “the vulture and the snake”.
The air force became the offensive counter-guerrilla force (the vultures) that would destroy the guerrillas (the snakes), wherever they might be. Ground forces were to defend Israel’s territorial integrity and, if necessary, make incursions into enemy territory to destroy pockets of guerrillas that the air force might be struggling to neutralise. The ground forces would be “in and out” very quickly and there would be no attempt at occupation.
That is what has been happening in Lebanon for the past three weeks. Since the formation of an air force counter-guerrilla task force, the Israeli air force has been the lead service and the army has played a secondary role.
This doctrine appears to have failed. The Hezbollah guerrilla force is still intact. What the planners forgot is that Hezbollah would use hospitals, schools, apartment blocks and other civilian infrastructure as cover for its activities. Hezbollah knows that it would be suicide to fire rockets from open areas; it would be unlikely to last five minutes if it did. Using the civilian population as cover is an integral aspect of asymmetrical warfare, and it follows that innocent civilians will die in large numbers in air attacks. The attacker, in this case Israel, subsequently loses the all-important international public relations battle.
What we are now seeing is a move towards the more traditional Israeli policy of using the army to take ground inside Lebanon and to flush out Hezbollah’s guerrillas. On paper Israel has total superiority.
It has one of the world’s most efficient military — well trained, motivated and equipped with state-of-the-art weaponry. It has hundreds of aircraft and the most modern artillery systems, and thousands of armoured vehicles and missiles. Hezbollah’s arsenal consists mostly of rifles, machineguns, grenades, mortars and mines plus improvised explosive devices.
Its fighters’ real advantage is their knowledge of the terrain, long experience of operations against the Israeli Defence Forces, local leadership and a burning sense of grievance. Hezbollah fighters rarely stand and fight. If they do, they are usually destroyed. Their main tactic is attrition, causing whatever casualties they can, usually through ambushes or mines, and then melting away.
Artillery and air attacks are seldom successful against such tactics. Indeed, the great military question of our time is how do you defeat an asymmetric warfare grouping such as Hezbollah? The reality is that you are unlikely to defeat it on the battlefield, simply because its fighters will refuse to fight on the battlefield of your choosing. If they did, they would be destroyed by a military machine such as Israel’s.
Your counter-guerrilla doctrine has to be much smarter. For a start, think of a 20-year time frame — because there are no quick fixes. Be prepared to spend an ocean of money. Identify the political grievance at the heart of the problem and prepare a comprehensive policy embracing political, economic, social, media and military means that will address that grievance over a generation.
No matter what happens, proportionate, and where possible minimum, force is absolutely necessary. In this type of campaign, large body counts are never a sign of success; they are nearly always a sign of failure.
In the short term the Israeli Defence Forces will win its campaign in southern Lebanon. It will chip away at Hezbollah’s infrastructure until something that passes for control is imposed. There will be incessant patrolling by Israeli troops on the ground and drones in the sky, supported by good Israeli intelligence.
After about a month, southern Lebanon is unlikely to be an area where Hezbollah can operate at will and, apart from the occasional ambush, the IDF will have the upper hand.
But the long-term winners will almost certainly be Hezbollah. The Israelis will withdraw from southern Lebanon at some stage, because they cannot afford to keep large numbers of reservists on a war footing indefinitely. Hezbollah will move back, and any UN force that tries to disarm it will become part of the problem. Hezbollah will resist and, after extensive casualties, the UN will likely be forced to withdraw.
Hezbollah will also survive in the long term because the traumatised children fleeing today’s onslaught will become the fighters of tomorrow.
Major Charles Heyman is the former editor of Jane’s World Armies and editor of The Armed Forces of the United Kingdom.