Israel gives UN maps showing cluster bomb sites in Lebanon
UNITED NATIONS - Nearly three years after the Israeli-Hezbollah war ended, Israel has given the UN force in Lebanon maps revealing where cluster bombs that could hurt innocents were dropped or fired, the UN peacekeeping chief said yesterday.
The United Nations and opponents of the use of cluster munitions have pressed Israel since the end of the war in August 2006 to turn over the maps, stressing that innocent Lebanese were being killed or injured needlessly by cluster munitions that did not explode when they were dropped.
Alain Le Roy, the UN undersecretary-general for peacekeeping, said Israel agreed to give the UN force in Lebanon maps of the sites where it had used the munitions during the 34-day war.
The Israelis handed over the maps on May 9, Le Roy said.
"It was an important step because we have been requesting this plan . . . since 2006," he told reporters.
Le Roy said the maps were being studied by UN and Lebanese technical experts.
Cluster bomblets, which can be as small as a flashlight battery, are packed into artillery shells or bombs dropped from aircraft. A single container fired to destroy airfields or tanks typically scatters some 200 to 600 of the mini-explosives over an area the size of an athletic field.
The UN has estimated that Israel dropped as many as 4 million of the bomblets in southern Lebanon, with perhaps 40 percent failing to explode on impact. Human Rights Watch researchers said at the time that the density of cluster bombs in southern Lebanon was higher than in any place they had seen.
Specialists say the unexploded cluster munitions may detonate later at the slightest disturbance. Children are especially vulnerable because the bomblets are often an eye-catching yellow with small parachutes attached.
The UN Mine Action Center in Lebanon said in late September 2006 that there were bomblets in people's houses, gardens, on the street, and on farmland. It said 14 people had already been killed and around 90 injured from unexploded ordnance.
The UN said it had no updated casualty figures.
The Lebanese Armed Forces and the UN peacekeeping force have been carrying out demining efforts paid for by the UN and the Lebanese government since the war ended, Le Roy said