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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 October 2006, 19:24 GMT 20:24 UK
Hezbollah denies cluster bomb use
Bomb damage in Israeli Arab village of Mghar
The Israeli Arab village of Mghar was hit several times in the conflict
Hezbollah has denied accusations from a human rights group that its fighters used cluster munitions against Israel.

Both Hezbollah and Israeli forces fired cluster munitions during the recent conflict in Lebanon, according to the group Human Rights Watch (HRW).

HRW said Hezbollah made two strikes with Chinese-made Type-81 rockets - their first recorded use.

But Hezbollah MP Hassan Hoballah told the BBC: "We did not use these bombs. We don't have them."

He added: "We reject the use of these bombs anywhere in the world because they hurt civilians, especially when dropped on residential areas. Our stance is consistent. It can never change."

'Never justified'

Israel has been heavily criticised for its extensive use of cluster weapons around civilian areas in Lebanon.

Cluster weapons spray out numerous smaller bomblets, or submunitions, some of which do not explode immediately, becoming de facto landmines that continue to pose a danger after the end of the fighting.

HRW says two 122mm Type-81 rockets hit the Arab village of Mghar in northern Israel on 25 July, nearly two weeks after the beginning of conflict.

"Use of cluster munitions is never justified in civilian-populated areas because they are inaccurate and unreliable," said Steve Goose, director of the group's Arms Division.

Their first use during the conflict by Israel was documented by HRW on 19 July in the village of Blida, killing a 60-year-old woman and injuring 12 other civilians.

Israeli police told the group that they had documented 113 cluster rockets fired at Israel, causing one death and 12 injuries.

HRW says until now Israel prevented publication of the details for security reasons.

There are up to 1m unexploded Israeli submunitions in Lebanon from the summer's bombardment, the United Nations says.

They cause an average of nearly three civilian casualties a day in Lebanon, including 15 fatalities since the 14 August ceasefire.




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