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January 28, 2007

Israel In Violation Of Arms Agreements?

It's the New York Times, so, per Ace's policy, I won't encourage you to follow the link. Here's the gist of it, though:

WASHINGTON, Jan 27 — The Bush administration will inform Congress on Monday that Israel may have violated agreements with the United States when it fired American-supplied cluster munitions into southern Lebanon during its fight with Hezbollah last summer, the State Department said Saturday.

The finding, though preliminary, has prompted a contentious debate within the administration over whether the United States should penalize Israel for its use of cluster munitions against towns and villages where Hezbollah had placed its rocket launchers.

...

Midlevel officials at the Pentagon and the State Department have argued that Israel violated American prohibitions on using cluster munitions against populated areas, according to officials who described the deliberations. But other officials in both departments contend that Israel’s use of the weapons was for self-defense and aimed at stopping the Hezbollah attacks that claimed the lives of 159 Israeli soldiers and civilians and at worst was only a technical violation.

By way of contrast, here's the transcript of an interview Michael Totten did with an IDF soldier:

MJT: The reason I ask what kind of targets you were marking is because the majority of people inside Lebanon think the Israelis were firing at civilians deliberately.

...

(IDF soldier "Eli") When they say that Israeli artillery was aimed at civilian targets, I can tell you a bit about how the artillery works. If I find a target in the middle of a village, like one house that I see that there are armed people going in, and I will aim artillery, heavy artillery, on it. Not Air Force, not like pin-pointed targets. Artillery will dispense rounds 100 meters from that target also. It’s not accurate. Anyway, even if a target is next to it, these houses were empty. No civilians were walking around South Lebanon. I know. I was in their villages. In their houses. Anyone who was there was definitely working for the Hezbollah or working as a Hezbollah fighter.

...

Eli: I didn’t see any Katyusha rockets being installed inside houses. But I’ve seen stuff…like we went toward this house, we were fired upon from inside the house. We went into the house. We cleared the house. Anyone who was in the house was neutralized. We went down to the basement. And also in the basement everything was neutralized. And we saw a periscope in the basement that was looking up toward the main road.

MJT: A periscope like something they use in a submarine?

Eli: Yeah, a periscope. You know, you can be underground and see above. It was a pipe that had mirrors that were reflecting up. And a small kind of detonator. Our team checked it out. There were 500 kilos of explosives under the road waiting for Israeli tanks. There were really ready. They built these houses for that purpose because they knew this was going to happen some day. They were just waiting for the tanks to roll in.

I'm not sure why we're so eager to criticize Israel for doing what American soldiers would do in the same situation. It's not going to buy us any brownie points with other countries critical of Israel, it'll annoy one of our few allies who takes Hezbollah seriously, and it plays directly into terrorist propaganda.

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posted by AndrewR at 12:40 PM

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