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Sunday, January 28, 2007 Israeli use of US-made cluster bombs may have violated arms export laws

[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 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.
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 . 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 of the Geneva Conventions of 1977