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Lebanon president claims Israel using illegal phosphorous bombs

[JURIST] Lebanese President Emile Lahoud [official website] accused Israel Monday of using incendiary phosphorous bombs [GlobalSecurity backgrounder] against Lebanese civilians in violation of international standards, and urged the United Nations [official website] to call for an immediate ceasefire. Lahoud, considered to be pro-Syrian, said Israel's use of the bombs is in violation of the Geneva Conventions [text], but a military spokesperson in Israel said all materials used by the Israel Defense Forces [official website] are legitimate. The use of incendiary weapons against civilians has been banned by Protocol III to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons [text] since 1980. Although not an original signatory, Israel ratified the Convention with a reservation in 1995. Article 35 of Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions (1977) additionally outlaws any weapon or use of weapon that causes "superfluous or unnecessary suffering." Israel is not a signatory to Protocol I. Surgeons at Lebanese hospitals have reported treating burns to civilians [Euronews report] caused by phosphorous weapons.

Accusations that Israel was using phosphorous weapons [JURIST report] were first made public last week by Lebanon Information Minister Ghazi Aridi after an emergency cabinet meeting was called to discuss the continuing conflict [JURIST news archive] between Hezbollah [US State Dept. backgrounder] and Israel. Reuters has more.

10:35 PM ET - In a related development Monday, New York-based monitoring group Human Rights Watch accused Israel [HRW press release] of using cluster grenades in an attack on a Hezbollah village in south Lebanon last week. Cluster munitions [FAS backgrounder; Cluster Munition Coalition advocacy website] are considered by many to be inaccurate weapons designed to spread damage indiscriminately and could therefore be considered illegal [backgrounder] under multiple provisions of Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions (1977). The US has supplied Israel with cluster munitions in the past, but HRW said Monday that the weapons used in the attack on the Hezbollah village could have been Israeli-made. Reuters has more.

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