Human Rights Watch confirms: Hizbullah used cluster bombs against Israel

October 19, 2006


[Note by Tom Gross]

There has been an enormous amount of reporting by the international media on the Israeli use of cluster bombs in the recent conflict with Hizbullah. By contrast, there has been virtually no reporting on Hizbullah’s use of cluster bombs, even though Hizbullah (unlike Israel) deliberately aimed them at civilian targets.

Even the mainstream liberal media should have no excuses for their continual refusal to report on Hizbullah’s use of cluster bombs the first time in the world they have been used by a non-state armed group following publication yesterday of a report by the New York-based Human Rights Watch.

Human Rights Watch confirm what Israeli officials have been saying since mid-July: that Hizbullah fired cluster munitions into civilian areas in northern Israel during the recent conflict.

Hizbullah’s deployment of the Chinese-made Type-81 122mm rocket is also the first confirmed use of this particular model of cluster munitions anywhere in the world.

Five countries China, Egypt, Italy, Russia, and Slovakia produce nine types of 122mm rockets carrying submunitions. Two other countries, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates, also stockpile them.


Human Rights Watch documented two Type-81 cluster strikes that took place on July 25 in the Galilee village of Mghar. Each of the Type-81 cluster munition 122mm rockets used by Hizbullah carries 39 Type-90 or MZD submunitions. Each submunition in turn shoots out hundreds of steel spheres, about 3.5mm in diameter, with deadly force.

It is not known when and how Hizbullah obtained these foreign-made cluster munitions. Human Rights Watch say their findings raise serious concerns about the proliferation of these weapons to non-state armed groups. Human Rights Watch has previously reported on Israel’s use of cluster munitions in southern Lebanon during the conflict.

Those injured by Hizbullah’s cluster bombs include both Israeli Jews and Arabs. For example, on July 25, 2006, between 2:15 and 2:30 p.m., a cluster munition landed by the home of Jihad Ghanem in the western part of Mghar village (population 19,000). The attack injured three family members: his son Rami, 8, his brother Ziad, 35, and his sister Suha, 33. Rami’s arms bore irregular scars caused by pieces of shrapnel as well as smaller round marks that Jihad said were caused by steel spheres.

Israeli police say they documented 113 cluster rockets that were fired at Israel during the conflict, causing one death and 12 injuries: in Mghar one death and six injuries, in Karmiel three injuries, in Kiryat Motzkin two injuries, and in Nahariya one injury. The police said they discovered the first of these rockets on July 15 in the Upper Galilee village of Safsufa.

Various governments have used other kinds of cluster weapons in recent conflicts, including Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kosovo.

Human Rights Watch condemn Hizbullah for deliberately attacking civilian areas with these weapons. Will all those international politicians who have been condemning Israel also condemn Hizbullah and those that supplied them with these weapons?

-- Tom Gross

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.