Human rights campaigners accused Hizbollah yesterday of illegally firing cluster bombs into Israel during the war this summer.
While Israel has been repeatedly criticised for its heavy use of cluster sub-munitions in southern Lebanon, the accusation by Human Rights Watch was the first time that a similar charge has been made against the Shia militant group.
Although not on the same scale as the Israeli use of bomblets, the fact that Hizbollah possessed the weapons, regarded as illegal by many countries, raises concerns about proliferation of illicit arms.
“We are disturbed to discover that not only Israel but also Hizbollah used cluster munitions at a time when many countries are turning away from this kind of weapon precisely because of its impact on civilians,” said Steve Goose, the director of the group’s arms division.
“Cluster munitions are inaccurate and unreliable.” The human rights group said it confirmed that Hizbollah fired two Chinese-made Type-81 missiles into Israel. Each missile contains 39 bomblets made up of ball-bearings packed around high explosive.
According to Israeli officials, 113 such missiles hit targets across northern Israel, killing one Israeli and injuring 12.
There was no immediate reaction from Hizbollah to the report by Human Rights Watch.