Israel Asks U.S. to Ship Rockets With Wide Blast

David S. Cloud in the New York Times:

The request for M-26 artillery rockets, which are fired in barrages and carry hundreds of grenade-like bomblets that scatter and explode over a broad area, is likely to be approved shortly, along with other arms, a senior official said.

But some State Department officials have sought to delay the approval because of concerns over the likelihood of civilian casualties, and the diplomatic repercussions…

Israel has long told American officials that it wanted M-26 rockets for use against conventional armies in case Israel was invaded, one of the American officials said. But after being pressed in recent days on what they intended to use the weapons for, Israeli officials disclosed that they planned to use them against rocket sites in Lebanon. It was this prospect that raised the intense concerns over civilian casualties.

During much of the 1980’s, the United States maintained a moratorium on selling cluster munitions to Israel, following disclosures that civilians in Lebanon had been killed with the weapons during the 1982 Israeli invasion. But the moratorium was lifted late in the Reagan administration, and since then, the United States has sold Israel some types of cluster munitions, the senior official said.

More here.  In addition, Cesar Chelala, in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, reports that Israel has already been using cluster bombs in the current conflict:

As if the ruthless air attacks on Lebanese civilians weren’t enough, Israel has been using illegal cluster munitions in populated areas of that country. Human Rights Watch researchers working on the ground in Lebanon confirmed that an attack with cluster weapons was carried out on the village of Blida on July 19, killing one and wounding at least 12 civilians, including seven children. According to Human Rights Watch, the use of such munitions in populated civilian areas may violate international humanitarian law.

More here.