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Toxic Israeli Balloons Drop Over Southern Lebanon

Eight people were hospitalized Saturday after inhaling toxic gases from poisonous balloons dropped by Israeli warplanes over Upper Nabatiyeh in southern Lebanon, the National News Agency reported.
NNA said among those who were rushed to hospital suffering from nausea and fatigue were a Lebanese staff sergeant, a recruit and An Nahar reporter Rana Jouni.

The agency said Israeli warplanes dropped at least 10 poisonous balloons with Hebrew markings over Upper Nabatiyeh at about 9 am Saturday.

NNA said contacts have been made between the Lebanese army command and the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon, which has instructed an Italian peacekeeping unit to take samples from the balloons for examination. The agency said the results are likely to come out on Sunday.

NNA had earlier said that the Lebanese army's engineering unit headed to the area and destroyed the balloons by explosives.

The army, in a communiqué issued Friday, warned civilians against messing with the balloons and urged them to report finding them to the closest army unit.

During the 34 day war Israel has dropped over 1 million cluster bombs most of which during the last 3 days of the war. Over 40 % of these bombs did not explode as a result of which many Lebanese died or were wounded after the and of the war when some of these started exploding.

Israel may have violated agreement with US
The Bush administration will inform Congress as soon as next week that Israel may have violated agreements with the United States when it fired American-supplied cluster munitions into southern Lebanon during its fight with Hezbollah last summer, administration officials say.

The finding, though preliminary, has prompted a contentious debate within the administration over whether the United States should penalize Israel for its use of cluster munitions against towns and villages where Hezbollah had placed its rocket launchers.

Sources: Naharnet, Ya Libnan