Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Written Evidence

Letter to the Chairman from the Ambassador's Office, Embassy of Israel

  Thank you for your letter of 21 June, I am pleased to hear you so enjoyed your visit to Israel.

  We consider the use of cluster munitions in the war against Hizballah last summer as a legitimate exercising of our right to self-defence in response to Hizballah's acts of aggression and grave violations of Israeli sovereignty. Hizballah's actions included, inter alia, attacking Israeli servicemen and abducting two of them, and the launching of over 4000 missiles from southern Lebanon onto Israeli civilian population centres. Hizballah also chose to establish itself and its arms caches among civilians and within the civilian infrastructure, effectively turning ordinary Lebanese into human shields.

  The Israeli use of cluster munitions was in full compliance with international law—specifically the principles of military necessity and proportionality. Cluster munitions were directed at rocket and missile launching sites. In most cases they were fired at open areas. In those cases where they were fired against targets located near or within built-up areas, this was carried out with the utmost caution so as to prevent civilian casualties, often costing our forces the element of surprise. Such measures included the dispersal of millions of fliers in Arabic from the air, the broadcasting of warming messages on the Al-Mashrek radio station and the delivery of thousands of recorded voices messages to our telephones.

  Last but not least, we want to emphasise that, following the cessation of hostilities, Israel voluntarily handed over to UNIFIL operational maps of areas suspected of containing unexploded ordnance, including cluster munitions. In turn, UNIFIL passed on the maps to the Lebanese army.

  I hope you will find this information helpful.

Zvi Heifetz

Ambassador of Israel

2 July 2007

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