Does anybody still remember Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 2006? Ostensibly an invasion to liberate soldiers being held prisoner, the war appeared to have been planned for some time prior to this. In addition, despite worldwide condemnation of the inevitable human rights abuses that would follow an Israeli invasion, the US ensured that any 'peace talks' were delayed long enough for large parts of Lebanon to be destroyed, thus allowing Israel's hawks to meet their KPI's.
When all of this was reported upon by the Western press and blogosphere, we were told that such views were based on propaganda, lies, or worse, anti-Semitism.
I was interested, then, to read the following report recently:
A key report into Israel's 2006 war on Lebanon has listed a series of major failings by the Jewish state but said Prime Minister Ehud Olmert acted in good faith.
"Overall, we regard the second Lebanon war as a serious missed opportunity," the head of a government-appointed commission into the conflict, Eliyahu Winograd, said according to an official English translation of his remarks. (source)
A missed opportunity? One opportunity that wasn't missed was the opportunity to target Lebanon's civilian population with cluster bombs (pictured above), for what is sometimes called 'collective punishment'.
"The army should re-examine the conditions for the use of cluster bombs... especially given the need to reduce losses among the civilian population after a complete halt to fighting," the Winograd Commission said.
"The use of these bombs should be restricted to military objectives that justify their use," it said in the 630-page report which was initially released on Wednesday.Cluster munitions spread bomblets over a wide area from a single device. The bomblets often do not explode on impact, but can do so later at the slightest touch, making them as deadly as anti-personnel landmines.
At least 38 people have been killed and 217 wounded by cluster bombs in the region since the end of the conflict, according to the United Nations.
During the war which raged from July 12 until August 14, 2006, Hezbollah militants whose capture of two Israeli soldiers sparked the war fired more than 4,000 rockets at northern Israel. (source)
Since cluster bombs function more as less as mine-spreading devices, they are the gift that keeps on giving. I won't link to pictures of the sorts of damage these devices do, but images are readily available on Google.
Of course, Hezbollah did fire 4,000 rockets into Northern Israel, according to the above report. I suppose my critics would suggest that would justify some form of measured retaliation, self-defense and all:"What we did was insane and monstrous, we covered entire towns in cluster bombs," the head of an IDF rocket unit in Lebanon said regarding the use of cluster bombs and phosphorous shells during the war.
Quoting his battalion commander, the rocket unit head stated that the IDF fired around 1,800 cluster bombs, containing over 1.2 million cluster bomblets. (source)
This comes from the mainstream Israeli press, I might add, not the Green Left Weekly. A ratio of four thousand bombs to 1.2 million seems reasonable. Can't imagine why anybody might have wished to criticise Israeli foreign policy. A missed opportunity, indeed.