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Israeli use of US-made cluster bombs may have violated arms export laws: White House

[JURIST] The White House plans to tell Congress on Monday that Israel's use of US-made cluster munitions [FAS backgrounder; Cluster Munition Coalition advocacy website] in southern Lebanon last year may have violated several decades-old agreements requiring that the weapons only be used against clearly defined military targets or the Arms Export Control Act [text], which authorizes use of the weapons only for self-defense, the New York Times reported Sunday. The US State Department opened an investigation [JURIST report] into Israel's use of the weapons in August. US officials, however, say it is unlikely that US President George W. Bush will impose sanctions on Israel for such a violation. The State Department's Directorate of Defense Trade Controls [official website] began investigating Israel's use of cluster bombs in Southern Lebanon in August 2006. AFP has more.

In July 2006, Human Rights Watch accused Israel [press release] of using cluster grenades in an attack on a Hezbollah village in south Lebanon, allegations which Israeli officials have denied [JURIST report]. Cluster munitions 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 [text] of the Geneva Conventions (1977).

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