[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) [official website; JURIST news archive] has called on the US to deny a request from Israel to provide cluster munitions for use against targets in Lebanon. HRW wrote a letter [text] to National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley Friday in response to a New York Times report that revealed Israel had requested expedited delivery of short range M-26 artillery rockets. The US approved the sale of the rockets in 2005, before the current Middle East crisis [JURIST news archive] erupted.
HRW opposes the use of M-26 rockets because they scatter and explode over a broad area, making it difficult to eliminate civilian casualties. Additionally, the rockets have a high failure rate, leaving behind "duds" that could explode at any time, creating danger long after the initial attack. Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch said:
the M-26 rocket epitomizes a retreat from precision targeting. It kills civilians across wide areas and leaves volatile submunitions scattered across the countryside that can kill civilians for years to come. This deadly weapon should never be used anywhere near civilians.
Many human rights experts consider cluster weapons illegal under multiple provisions of Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions
(1977) [text]. Read the HRW press release
. Reuters has more
HRW claimed [press release] in late July that Israeli forces had used cluster munitions in an attack on a Lebanese village, a claim that was later dismissed [JURIST report] by an Israeli spokesman.