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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Report Says Israel Misused Weapons in Lebanon War

WASHINGTON -- Israel likely misused U.S.-made cluster bombs in civilian areas of Lebanon during the war against Hezbollah last summer, the U.S. State Department said Monday.

Spokesman Sean McCormack said a preliminary report had been sent to the Congress on a U.S. investigation of the issue. It is up to Congress whether the issue will be investigated further.

The United Nations said last summer that unexploded cluster bombs -- anti-personnel weapons that spray bomblets over a wide area -- littered homes, gardens and highways in south Lebanon.

When Israel purchases cluster bombs and other lethal equipment from the United States, it must agree in writing to restrictions on their use.

The report, McCormack said, "is not a final judgment," declining to speculate on what action might be taken against Israel if a violation were confirmed.

He said Israeli officials had been cooperative in providing information.

The UN Mine Action Coordination Center has said that it is not illegal to use the cluster bombs against soldiers or enemy fighters, but that the Geneva Conventions bar their use in civilian areas.

Relief organizations and the UN mine office have reported finding evidence that Israel used three types of U.S.-made cluster bombs during the 34-day war with Hezbollah militants, during which both sides fired rockets into populated areas.

The UN mine office said in a report Wednesday that it had found hundreds of bomblets of the types made by the United States among unexploded ordnance recovered in nearly 250 locations in southern Lebanon.

Israel also makes its own cluster munitions.