Anti-minefield campaigners accused the IDF of firing hundreds of cluster bombs at villages and fields in Lebanon, especially in the last three days of fighting. The bombs left behind, according to them, thousands of deadly duds in residential areas.
The bombs are intended to explode on impact, however, many fail to detonate, and are left as a dangerous, even fatal hazard to unsuspecting civilians returning to a bombed area.
According to UN numbers, since the end of fighting between Israel and Hizbullah in Lebanon, 12 people have been killed and 49 cluster bomb duds have detonated. UN officials warn that if a mine-clearance effort isn't put into action, the death toll is likely to rise.
'Bombs likely to detonate'
They recounted that in one incident this week, 35 duds were found in and around a residential home. In another incident, a woman lost her hands, apparently from a dud that exploded in the crops she was collecting in a field.
The Israeli government claims that it did not specifically target residential areas, and that every weapon used by the IDF is used in accordance with international law. However, campaigners are calling to forbid the use of cluster bombs under international law, claiming that the indiscriminate use of cluster bombs in populated areas is likely to contradict international law.
Simon Conway, director of the British charity Landmine Action, condemned Israel's "cynical" use of the weapons. He said: "The premeditated targeting of residential areas with high failure-rate cluster munitions in the final days of the conflict means that the rubble-filled villages of southern Lebanon have been deliberately turned into minefields that will indiscriminately kill civilians for years to come."
Chris Clarke, head of the UN mine action service in southern Lebanon, estimated Wednesday in the international conference for conventional weapons in Geneva that it will take at least half a year to clear the "worst threat" bombs, and that "full clearance" of the field is likely to take more than a year.