Friday, August 11, 2006

Israel asks U.S. to ship rockets with wide blast














By David S. Cloud, The New York Times, August 11, 2006

"Israel has asked the Bush administration to speed delivery of short-range antipersonnel rockets armed with cluster munitions, which it could use to strike Hezbollah missile sites in Lebanon, two American officials said Thursday.
The request for M-26 artillery rockets, which are fired in barrages and carry hundreds of grenade-like bomblets that scatter and explode over a broad area, is likely to be approved shortly, along with other arms, a senior official said.

... The rockets, while they would be very effective against hidden missile launchers, officials say, are fired by the dozen and could be expected to cause civilian casualties if used against targets in populated areas.

... The United States had approved the sale of M-26’s to Israel some time ago, but the weapons had not yet been delivered when the crisis in Lebanon erupted. If the shipment is approved, Israel may be told that it must be especially careful about firing the rockets into populated areas, the senior official said.

... While Bush administration officials have criticized Israeli strikes that have caused civilian casualties, they have also backed the offensive against Hezbollah by rushing arms shipments to the region. Last month the administration approved a shipment of precision-guided munitions, which one senior official said this week included at least 25 of the 5,000-pound “bunker-buster” bombs.
Israel has recently asked for another shipment of precision-guided munitions, which is likely to be approved, the senior official said.

... The M-26 “is a particularly deadly weapon,” Bonnie Docherty, a researcher with Human Rights Watch, who helped write a study of the United States’ use of the weapons in the 2003 Iraq invasion. “They were used widely by U.S. forces in Iraq and caused hundreds of civilian casualties.”

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