Revolution #61, September 17 2006
Death and Maiming – Made in the USA
Victims of Israel’s Cluster Bombs
On September 6, the U.S. Senate voted, 70-30, to defeat an amendment to a Pentagon budget bill which would have banned the use of cluster bombs near populated civilian areas.
The U.S. can now continue its long-standing policy of supplying Israel with cluster bombs.
What has this practice already meant?
Israel bombed Lebanon, from July 10 to August 14, using U.S.-supplied weapons, including cluster bombs. The United Nations now reports that there are at least 100,000 unexploded cluster bombs in south Lebanon, littering the landscape in highly populated towns and villages. And now, people are being maimed, wounded, and killed by these ordnance. The UN reports ( as of September 1) that even after the ceasefire went into effect on August 14, 12 Lebanese civilians have been killed and 56 injured from contact with unexploded cluster bombs.
According to Jan Egeland, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, around a quarter of a million Lebanese who fled their homes were unable to return because of the devastation or for fear of injury caused by these and other unexploded bombs. Egeland said, “What’s shocking and, I would say to me, completely immoral, is that 90 percent of the cluster bomb strikes occurred in the last 72 hours of the conflict when we knew there would be a resolution, when we really knew there would be an end of this.” (UN News Service, 8/30/06).
Simon Conway, director of Land Mine Action, said that “The premeditated targeting of residential areas with high-failure-rate cluster munitions in the final days of the conflict means that the rubble-filled villages of southern Lebanon have been deliberately turned into minefields that will indiscriminately kill civilians for years to come.”
Lebanese and international relief groups working in Lebanon report that the unexploded “bomblets” appear on the ground as small objects that are mistaken for toys by children who are often maimed or killed when the weapons explode.
The New York Times reported on August 11 that the U.S. was considering a rush shipment of more cluster bombs to Israel for use in their attacks in south Lebanon. These M26 artillery rockets each contain 644 submunitions or “bomblets” that spread across a wide area and are not aimed at destroying vehicles or buildings, but specifically designed to kill and maim people.
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have also reported on the extensive use of such weapons by the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Such anti-personnel weapons are aimed at terrorizing whole populations of non-combatant civilians and designed to depopulate whole geographic areas. They were used extensively by the U.S. during the Vietnam War—where one U.S. military commander who directed the burning down of a whole peasant village said, “We had to destroy the village in order to save it.”
During the recent invasion of Lebanon, the Israeli army pounded Shi’a, Sunni, and Christian villages with artillery and bombs, including cluster bombs. Some analysts have said this was done in an attempt to turn Christians against Hezbollah or that Israel did this to punish the Christian population for not opposing Hezbollah influence in south Lebanon. In any case, Israel’s bombing, including the use of cluster bombs, succeeded in turning the vast majority of the people in south Lebanon even more against Israel. And for many people, it is also clear that these cluster bombs—which still continue to maim and kill people—are “Made in USA.”
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