WHEN Israel used military planes supplied by the United States to attack Iraq's Osirak nuclear power station in 1981, Washington complained that the aircraft had been provided on the clear understanding that they would be used only for defensive purposes. President Reagan insisted that he had not been consulted about their use in the raid on Iraq and wanted an explanation from Israel. The row blew over, as these things do, and the United States has continued to provide Israel with more than $2 billion in military aid each year. Among the weapons made available are American-made cluster bombs, again on a clear understanding that their use would be restricted to military targets. Last year a United Nations report said that cluster bombs, which fragment into widespread bomblets, had been used by Israel against civilian targets in Lebanon. The report said that the bomblets, many unexploded, were scattered in streets, homes and gardens of the areas attacked by Israel. On Monday the report of a US investigation into these allegations was sent to Congress and a State Department official said that it may confirm the UN's early report. The work of removing tens of thousands of the unexploded cluster bombs from residential areas of Lebanon is being undertaken by a consortium of nations which is also meeting the cost of the operation. Will this matter also “blow over” or will the United States this time do something about keeping Israel to its undertakings?


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