August 2007 Postcard
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I URGE YOU TO address a pressing humanitarian issue. The use of cluster bombs in conflict situations presents a grave danger to civilian populations. These indiscriminate weapons scatter deadly explosives over wide areas of land, making it very difficult to avoid civilian casualties. Moreover, while they are designed to explode on impact, many of the submunitions initially fail to detonate, leaving behind large numbers of hazardous “duds” that injure and kill civilians and contaminate the land for years to come.
Please support the passage of H.R. 1755, the Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act of 2007 introduced by Rep James P. McGovern, and S.594, introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, for a clear, just and sensible U.S. policy on cluster munitions. This legislation bans the use of cluster munitions in or near civilian populated areas, as well as the use, sale, and transfer of cluster munitions with a failure rate of more than one percent. ❑
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Abbas Yussef Abbas, 6, and Ahmad Mohammed Shalabi, 12, were wounded by a cluster bomb in Blida, Lebanon in August 2006. (AFP Photo/Mustapha Mahmoud).
ACCORDING TO THE Sept. 13, 2006 Haaretz
newspaper, an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) reserve officer who commanded a unit that fired cluster bombs into Lebanon said, “In Lebanon, we covered entire villages with cluster bombs. What we did there was crazy and monstrous.”
Nearly 90 percent of the cluster bomb strikes
were launched in the last 72 hours of the conflict, when Israel knew there would be a resolution.
The U.N. Mine Action Coordination Center
(MACC) in south Lebanon estimated that there
were one million unexploded cluster bomblets in Lebanon. Cluster bombs have killed at least 22 Lebanese civilians and injured at least 171 others. Many of the cluster bombs used by Israel in Lebanon were provided by the United States,which maintains a stockpile of close to one billion submunitions. In addition to selling these weapons to other countries, the U.S. itself has used cluster bombs in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Iraq, Laos and the former Yugoslavia, with similar disastrous human consequences.