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Amnesty: US-made weapon used in 2 Israel airstrikes in Gaza that killed 43 civilians

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An investigation by Amnesty International claims that a US-made weapons guidance system has been used in two Israeli airstrikes in Gaza in which 43 civilians are said to have been killed.

“US-made munitions were used by the Israeli military in two deadly, unlawful airstrikes on homes in Gaza which killed a total of 43 civilians - 19 children, 14 women and ten men - Amnes-ty International has found following a detailed investigation into the two attacks,” the human rights group said in a statement.

It added: “On 10 October, an airstrike on the al-Najjar family home in Deir al-Balah killed 24 peo-ple, while on 22 October an airstrike on the Abu Mu’eileq family home in the same city killed 19 people.”

Palestinian news agency WAFA had reported in October that Israeli warplanes “bombarded a house in Deir al-Balah city, in central Gaza, killing 10 people and injuring at least 22 others as search efforts are still underway to rescue around 18 more from under the rubble.”

The Palestinian report also said that Israeli warplanes shelled another house in Deir al-Balah kill-ing at least 10 people and injuring 22. The overall death toll from the shelling of the two houses likely rose given the lack of medical resources to treat the injured across Gaza. International or-ganizations have described the state of Gaza’s hospitals and healthcare system as “catastrophic” and on the brink of collapse.

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Amnesty said its research showed that the Israeli airstrikes were “either direct attacks on civilians or civilian objects, or indiscriminate attacks”, and is calling for them to be investigated as war crimes.

Based on the analysis done by the watchdog’s weapons experts, satellite imagery and examina-tion of photographs of the attack sites, the human rights organization said: “Based upon the heavy damage to the target and surrounding buildings, the bomb that struck the al-Najjar home probably weighed 2,000 lb (907 kg), while the weapon that hit the Abu Mu’eileq home is likely to have weighed at least 1,000 lb (454 kg).”

It went on to conclude: “In both attacks the bombs were US-manufactured Joint Direct Attack Munitions, with photos of metal fragments from the weapons clearly showing distinctive rivets and harness system which served as a part of the frame surrounding the body of the bomb.”

The JDAM referenced in Amnesty’s report is “a guidance tail kit that converts existing unguided free-fall bombs into accurate, adverse weather ‘smart’ munitions,” according to the US Air Force.

“JDAM is a guided air-to-surface weapon that uses either the 2,000-pound BLU-109/MK 84, the 1,000-pound BLU-110/MK 83 or the 500-pound BLU-111/MK 82 warhead as the payload. JDAM enables employment of accurate air-to-surface weapons against high priority fixed and relocatable targets from fighter and bomber aircraft.”

Israel has been one of the world’s largest recipients of US military technology. The US has long been a key supplier of military equipment and defense technology to Israel including advanced weaponry such as fighter jets like the F-35 and missile defense systems in addition to a wide range of sophisticated weaponry.

Israel’s use of American weapons and munitions does not come as a surprise; however, should Amnesty’s report be proven true, it would be one of the first instances in which an American-made weapon was tied to a specific attack which led to high number of casualties in the current Israel-Hamas war which erupted on October 7.

Amnesty pointed to additional evidence backing their claim: “In addition, the 70P862352 codes stamped on recovered bomb fragments are associated with Joint Direct Attack Munitions and the manufacturer Boeing. Additional codes indicate that the munition that killed members of the al-Najjar family was manufactured in 2017, while the one used in the Abu Mu’eileq attack was manufactured in 2018.”

Amnesty International’s Secretary General Agnès Callamard said: “The US-made weapons facili-tated the mass killings of extended families. The fact that US-made munitions are being used by the Israeli military in unlawful attacks with deadly consequences for civilians should be an urgent wake-up call to the Biden administration.”

The Amnesty leader called on all government, specifically the US, to immediately stop transfer-ring arms to Israel that more likely than not will be used to commit or heighten risks of violations of international law.

Al Arabiya English cannot independently verify Amnesty International’s claim.

However, the US State Department said it is reviewing Amnesty’s report, spokesperson Matt Miller said in a press briefing on Wednesday.

“It is a tragedy any time a civilian is killed. We have made clear in our discussions with Israeli leaders that we are deeply concerns about the protection of civilians in this conflict. We expect Israel to only target legitimate targets and to adhere to the laws of armed conflict; that includes taking measures to reduce the risk of harm to civilians,” Miller said.

He added: “The Israeli Government has a professional military, and so when they get these types of reports, they should do what our military should do, which is investigate them. That’s some-thing every military should do, and we would expect them to do so as well.”

Additionally, the Pentagon said it too was reviewing the report. “We are going to continue to consult closely with our Israeli partners on the importance of taking civilian safety into account in conducting their operations,” spokesman Brigadier General Patrick Ryder told reporters.

Meanwhile, the Israeli army commented on Amnesty’s report in a statement to CNN describing the claim as “flawed, biased and premature, based on baseless assumptions regarding the IDF’s operations.”

It added: “The assumption that intelligence regarding the military use of a particular structure does not exist unless revealed is contradictory to any understanding of military activity, and the report uses this flawed assumption to imply equally flawed and biased conclusions regarding the IDF, in line with existing biases and prior problematic work by this organization.”

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