Non-observant Jew Olmert could not be suspected of killing Christian boys to make matzah with their blood. Deliberately killing Lebanese civilians with cluster bombs seems more in the spirit of our times. The accusation merits as little rebuttal as any other blood libel; crackpots will believewhatever they want, never mind facts.

Armies routinely use cluster bombs, but only the Jews – the usually culprits – are accused of planting duds to kill civilians . Never mind the absurdity of the allegations. The Israeli army, over-sensitive to Western media, warned the guerillas of the air attacks and took large losses in urban fighting to spare the enemy population. The suggestion that the Israelis spread duds in the final days of the war to harm civilians is divorced from reality.

Cluster bombs are necessary and efficient weapons. They have been used continuously since WWII. They are not horrific devices, just more powerful and economical weapons. Cluster bombs have a lower destruction/casualty ratio than conventional bombs. During the war, Israel had to clear certain areas—already abandoned by civilians—of guerillas. Cluster bombs did that with less destruction.

Why Israel stepped up the use of cluster bombs when a cease-fire loomed? Blame the media. Journalists with little understanding of military affairs decry cluster weapons, and Israel rarely used them throughout the war to avoid intensifying the pressure for a cease-fire. When the cease-fire was certain, Israel had no reason to placate the media and tried to achieve maximum results in the final hours. Hezbollah similarly intensified its rocket barrages.

The UN figure of 350,000 bomblets left is incredible. The US cluster weapons which Israel uses have a declared dud rate of 5%. The UN implicitly claims that Israel fired the incredible 20,000 cluster bombs and warheads. The real dud ratio—entirely the fault of the US manufacturers—is higher, possibly 12-20%, but many duds are dead and not dangerous.

Harm to civilians from cluster duds is a novel issue. Neither the UN nor the media screamed when the US had that problem in Afghanistan. There is no easy solution: painting the bomblets yellow actually attracted children rather than warned them. The threat isn’t major: the Lebanese can tell the children to not touch the clearly identifiable bomblets, and the fields could be plowed to detonate them. Every war theater remains dangerous for years; people in the USSR were killed by unexploded bombs decades after WWII.

Land-mining South Lebanon is a viable tactic certain to decrease cross-border incidents. In the cluster weapons affair, the Israeli government did not do that.