Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Special Democracy Now! Report from Southern Lebanon: Ana Nogueira Investigates the Lasting Dangers of Unexploded Israeli Cluster Bombs

"AMY GOODMAN: Democracy Now!'s Ana Nogueira went to South Lebanon. She filed this report.

ANA NOGUEIRA: When Bilal Beydoun returned to his village of Bint Jbeil one week after the ceasefire, he discovered the war not over.

BILAL BEYDOUN: I found an unexploded bomb on my front porch and an unexploded missile on my back porch. And I don't know where I’m going to sleep tonight. I mean, I can't even go in my backyard, because the grass is high, and you just can't go back there. You don't know where you're going to step. Your next step might be your last step.

ANA NOGUEIRA: The United Nations interim force in Lebanon estimates that Israel dropped approximately 150,000 bombs during the 34-day military offensive. Many of these remain unexploded, even as villagers return home to start clearing away the rubble. The large unexploded missiles, while extremely threatening, are easier to find. It is the estimated 15,000 cluster bomb munitions, each carrying anywhere from 80 to 600 small bomblets, that pose the most immediate threat. Mark Garlasco is the senior military analyst for Human Rights Watch.

MARK GARLASCO: The use of submunitions here in Lebanon really is at a crisis point. We're seeing the contamination levels far higher than many areas during the Iraq war. Interestingly, though, we've also seen the exact same cluster bombs used here that were used in Iraq. And these same weapons were the main killers of civilians during the war in Iraq in 2003. We've seen dud rates from the American submunitions, which are not manufactured particularly well, on paper 14%, but in the field 30% to 40%. So the American stuff is much, much worse than the Israeli-manufactured, and primarily the Israelis have been using American weapons."

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