Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Cluster bombs remain, terrorizing civilians long after the warriors are gone

On Sunday, The Washington Post ran a powerful photo essay about a young Lebanese girl, Rasha Zayoun, who's foot was blown off by a cluster bomb. As often happens with these types of weapons, this was a cluster bomb from an earlier conflict, dropped by the Israeli army during the war between Israel and Hezbollah in July and August 2006,

From the story:
Rasha's father, a day laborer, unwittingly brought the small, bell-shaped explosive home when it was scooped into a bag of wild thyme that he picked after a long, unsuccessful day of searching for work.

The blast from the cluster bomblet knocked Rasha's mother unconscious. Rasha's brother, her elder by three years, heard her screams and found her face-down, her front tooth chipped on the rug-covered, cement floor.

The submunition blew a hole in the cinder-block wall and left a trail of pock marks from the floor to the ceiling. The same explosion tore Rasha's left foot almost completely from her leg. Rasha's brother, Qassam Zayoun, ran to his sister's screams. He then ran from their house in terror when his sister's foot came off in his hand.
According to a spokesperson for the U.N.'s Mine Action Coordination Center, since the end of last year's Israel-Hezbollah war, 25 civilians were killed and 185 wounded by cluster bomb and other ordnance explosions. In addition, 13 mine experts have also died during minesweeping operations. The most recent fatality was a British expert who died in an Oct. 11 blast.

There is no place in this world for cluster bombs. Ever. Yet a recent U.N. weapons conference called for new rules on when the weapon can be used but stopping short of launching talks on a legally binding treaty. Why? According to the Associated Press: "The United States, Russia and China have repeatedly insisted that the weapon has a legitimate military purpose."

Doesn't that company make you feel all warm and fuzzy? Have any of the presidential candidates made a statement on the use of cluster bombs? I haven't heard any, but would be interested if anyone else has come across this issue in any platforms. It's time we showed the world we have a shred of morality left in us as a country.

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