IDF investigation concludes that use of cluster munitions in 2006 Lebanon war did not violate international law
As NGO Monitor has reported in detail, during the Israel-Hezbollah war in July/August 2006, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW) published numerous reports condemning Israeli actions. A major charge was that Israel’s use of cluster bombs violated international law, reflecting the central role that these organizations play in the international campaign for a ban on all cluster munitions. Amnesty International declared that, "The Security Council should declare and enforce an arms embargo on both Israel and Hizbullah until effective mechanisms are in place to ensure that weapons will not be used to commit serious violations of international humanitarian law…" HRW cited the use of cluster bombs in "numerous attacks that ran afoul of international humanitarian law."
The Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs provided a detailed response to these charges in September 2006, stating, "Both international law and accepted practice do not prohibit the use of the family of weapons popularly known as ‘cluster bombs’. Consequently, the main issue in a discussion of Israel’s use of such weaponry should be the method of their use, rather than their legality." The IDF initiated its own investigation regarding the use of cluster bombs, the results of which were published December 24, 2007 (link to IDF website, Hebrew only; for English summaries, see Ha’aretz and the Associated Press). According to Ha’aretz, the IDF investigation concluded that the use of cluster munitions by Israel "was conducted in an effort to stop the continued launch of Katyusha rockets against Israel’s civilian population…[the IDF investigation] concluded that the use of cluster munitions is permissible under international law and noted that Western armies use this type of weapon." Brigadier General Mandelblit, head of the investigation, is quoted as concluding that "cluster munitions are the sole effective means for countering the threat of the Katyusha rockets, in instances where ground forces are not used to take over the launch sites."
These findings are consistent with the December 2007 testimony of Israel’s Attorney General Menahem Mazuz before the Winograd Commission investigating the conduct of the war. Mazuz found that Israel did not violate international law in its conduct of the 2006 war, and did not use "disproportionate force". HRW and Amnesty have yet to respond to either finding.
NGO Monitor’s submission to the Winograd Commission, which examines NGO credibility and the exploitation of human rights rhetoric and international law to promote a politicized agenda, can be view here.