[JURIST] UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland [official profile] condemned Israel [UN press conference summary] Wednesday for its "immoral" use of cluster bombs [FAS backgrounder; Cluster Munition Coalition advocacy website] in the most recent Middle East conflict [JURIST news archive]. Egeland based his criticism on UN officials' recent discovery of 359 separate sites of cluster bomblets, saying that 90% of the cluster bomb strikes occurred in the last 72 hours of the conflict when a UN Security Council ceasefire resolution was pending. Cluster munitions are considered by many human rights activists to be illegal [backgrounder] under multiple provisions of Protocol I [text] of the Geneva Conventions (1977) as they are notoriously inaccurate weapons that spread damage indiscriminately. Israel has previously denied [JURIST report] unauthorized uses of cluster munitions in Lebanon, and has insisted that its weaponry conforms with international standards. BBC News has more.
Last week, the US State Department's Directorate of Defense Trade Controls [official website] initiated an investigation [JURIST report] to determine whether Israel violated prior US-Israeli agreements during the Middle East conflict by targeting Lebanese citizens cluster munitions. In February, Belgium became the first country in the world to ban the manufacture and use of cluster bombs [JURIST report].