Mohammed Zaatari / Daily Star – 2006-09-21 09:21:14
Israelis Use Bulldozers to Wreck Drops in South Lebanon
Mohammed Zaatari / Daily Star
SOUTH LEBANON (September 20, 2006) — Israeli bulldozers started to level the soil and cut down olive trees in Yarin in the Tyre region on Monday, spoiling several cultivated fields and preventing farmers from inspecting their lands. “Israeli bulldozers have spoiled my land, cutting down the fruit trees I’ve planted,” said farmer Shaker Afleh on Tuesday, as he and his daughter watched the bulldozers on his land from a kilometer away.
Israel’s earth-movers have cut down several trees belonging to more than 10 members of the Abu Dellah family.
“Bulldozers have been leveling the soil for two days, trying to expand the Blue Line at the expense of our land and livelihoods,” Abdallah Abu Dellah said on Tuesday. “The international force has done nothing but register Israel’s daily violations of Lebanon’s territory,” he said.
Shepherds refrained from escorting their herds to the fields for fear of being shot by the Israeli soldiers, one resident told The Daily Star. “Israeli bulldozers are trying to level the greatest number of trees in order to monitor the border easily,” the source said.
The area’s residents said they feared that Israel would erect barbed-wire fences in their lands and set up a so-called “buffer zone.”
Israeli troops set up a fence last week in a Marjayoun field, leveled soil and created a large trench despite the presence of UNIFIL forces.
Meanwhile, an Israeli bulldozer carried out digging work on Tuesday before laying water pipes in the Wazzani River in Marjayoun in a bid to funnel water to the town of Ghajar, the National News Agency (NNA) reported this week. Five Israeli tanks were seen in Tallat Mahames inside the eastern sector in the South, the NNA added.
Further Israeli violation of Lebanese airspace took place when Israeli reconnaissance jets flew over several Tyre-area villages on Tuesday at noon, the NNA further reported.
UN: Israel Cluster Bomb Use in Lebanon “Outrageous”
Alistair Lyon, Special Correspondent
(September 19, 2006) — Israel scattered at least 350,000 unexploded cluster bomblets on south Lebanon in its war with Hizbollah, mostly when the conflict was all but over, leaving a deadly legacy for civilians, UN officials said on Tuesday.
“The outrageous fact is that nearly all of these munitions were fired in the last three to four days of the war,” David Shearer, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator in Lebanon, told a news conference in Beirut.
“Outrageous because by that stage the conflict had been largely resolved in the form of (UN Security Council) Resolution 1701,” he said.
The resolution adopted on August 11 halted 34 days of fighting three days later. A truce has largely held since then. Israel denies using cluster bombs illegally.
A UN fact sheet said the figure of 350,000 unexploded bomblets was based on reports by Israeli soldiers, and excluded cluster bomb firings by conventional artillery or aircraft.
Chris Clark, manager of the UN Mine Action Coordination Center of South Lebanon, said the cluster bomb threat in the south was “extensive and, in my opinion, unprecedented.”
While Israel has provided general information about where it believes unexploded ordnance might be, Clark said tactical maps given to the United Nations by Israeli forces withdrawing from the south were “absolutely useless” in clearance efforts.
“We have asked through many channels for the headquarters of these units to provide detailed strike data,” he told a briefing at the United Nations in Geneva. “It has not yet been received.”
FAILED TO EXPLODE
The United Nations has so far identified 516 cluster bomb strike locations and says 30 to 40 percent of the bomblets they scattered over the south failed to explode at the time.
Only about 17,000 bomblets have been defused so far and the United Nations says clearance work could take up to 30 months.
Shearer said cluster bombs had killed or wounded an average of three people a day since the war ended, with 15 killed, including a child, and 83 wounded, of whom 23 are children.
Clearance efforts have so far focused on villages, schools and playing areas, but will soon shift toward farmland, which provides 70 percent of household incomes in the south, he said.
“The cluster munitions are stopping farmers from getting out to their fields and resuming their farming activities,” he said.
Cluster bombs have been found on the ground and hanging on barbed-wire fences and trees, including in citrus, banana and olive groves, Clark said. They have also turned up in the rubble of destroyed buildings, complicating reconstruction efforts.
Human rights groups have criticized Israel and Hizbollah for indiscriminate attacks on civilians in the fighting that began after the guerrillas captured two Israeli soldiers on July 12.
Shearer said it “defied belief” that so many cluster bombs were fired in the last hours of the war.
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