Winograd: Current use of cluster bombs not in line with int'l law
Committee calls bomblets 'inaccurate;' Beirut: Cluster bombs are flagrant violation of int'l norms.
Israel must consider whether it wants to consider using cluster bombs in the future, because its current manner of employing them does not conform to international law. The Winograd Committee made this recommendation in its report on Israel's conduct in the Second Lebanon War as it relates to international law.
In a special appendix dedicated to the use of cluster bombs, the committee determined that, "The cluster bomb is inaccurate, it consists of bomblets that are dispersed over a large area, and some of the bomblets do not explode [on impact] and can cause damage for a long period afterward." The committee thus recommended that non-military elements be involved in assessing their future use in light of international law.
In Beirut, Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora's office said the Israeli probe failed to hold the army accountable for its actions, including the use of cluster bombs. It said the practice was a flagrant violation of international norms, human rights and is tantamount to a daily war crime committed against Lebanese civilians.
The Winograd Committee also recommended reducing to a minimum the presence of the attorney general and the chief military prosecutor in decision-making forums during wartime: the cabinet, security cabinet and Israel Defense Forces General Staff sessions.
The committee said that the activity of the legal advisers should focus on the preliminary stage, in inculcating the principles of international law, as well as on examining the decision-making process after the fact.
The committee ruled that Israel generally complied with war directives laws, which are part of international law, both with regard to the justification for initiating the war and with regard to combat operations themselves.
The committee decided not to examine in depth individual complaints about violations of international law committed by Israel in the course of the war, which included claims about the selection of illegitimate targets, the use of cluster bombs, the disproportionate harming of civilians and infrastructure in Lebanon and the use of civilians as "human shields." Instead, the committee made do with general conclusions, in part because, "We did not find it appropriate to deal with issues that are part of a political and propaganda war against the state."
The committee examined the methods used to instill the precepts of international law among the country's leaders and in army officers and combat soldiers, concluding that, "The authorities are cognizant of the duty to obey international law and acted out of a desire to do so during the war."
Regarding the presence of legal advisers in the field during the course of the war, the committee said: "It is better, in our opinion, to inculcate the general norms prior to action, as a matter of routine.
In the course of action, the decision-makers and the soldiers should be left to operate in accordance with these norms, and afterward the cases should be examined and responsibility determined in the event of a serious deviation from the obligatory norms that were inculcated... The fighting forces, especially at the field level, should focus on combat and not on consultations with legal advisers."
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