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Israel could have prevented deaths in Gaza tent fire by using modest weaponry – Experts

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Defense experts who looked at pictures of the wreckage from an Israeli bomb that caused a big fire in a camp for Palestinians who had to leave their homes, are wondering why Israel did not use smaller and more accurate weapons when there were so many innocent people close by. They said the bombs were probably made in the US.

The attacks, aimed at Hamas members, killed about 45 people who were staying in a temporary camp in southern Gaza near Rafah. Many countries have criticized the attacks.

Israel is looking into the attack and says the Hamas targets were 17 kilometers (1 mile) away from a place where they are supposed to help people in need. They checked before attacking and thought no civilians would be hurt.

Displaced people were all over the place, and Israel had not told them to leave. Even though the tents that caught on fire were not in the designated safe area, the people living there believed they would be protected.

Israel was attacked by Hamas on October 7, 2023. Israel hasn’t said where the burned tents were in relation to the compound it bombed on Sunday. They shared a satellite image showing some known civilian shelters about 180 meters (600 feet) away. It said that there were no tents nearby, but a fire started unexpectedly and sadly killed people in Gaza.

The Israeli military released a video showing people walking near the buildings that were targeted before they were blown up. The video also seems to show tents close by.

Israel has not said what bombs it used, but Rear Adm. (Ret) John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, said that the U. S is providing Israel with bombs. Daniel Hagari, who speaks for the Israel Defense Forces, said that they used small bombs that weigh 37 pounds each and that an accidental explosion might have started the fire.

Defense experts said that even small bombs dropped from jets can be dangerous to civilians because they explode and can send pieces flying far away.

Pictures on social media from the tent camp on Monday, verified by The Associated Press, showed a special code on parts of the exploded weapons. This code is used to identify US government suppliers.

Two experts who know about military weapons said that they think the bombs used were probably small, 250-pound bombs made in the United States. They looked at pictures and photos from a satellite to decide.

Even though these bombs are smaller than other weapons the US has given to Israel, they can still cause a lot of damage. The whole 250-pound shell and parts are made to explode and send pieces flying up to 2,000 feet (600 meters) away.

“You have two bombs that can travel up to 600 meters in a crowded space. ” “Trevor Ball, who used to disarm bombs in the Army, said it doesn’t make sense if they’re trying to avoid injuries. ”

Ball said that the serial numbers on the tail kit and shell debris in the photos show that the bombs are 250-pound GBU-39. It’s not common to talk about a bomb’s explosive power, in this case 37 pounds, instead of its total weight, according to Ball and Mark Cancian, a retired Marine Corps Reserves colonel and senior adviser to the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The messy area in Gaza shows that the bombs might have been set to explode before they hit, so they would have killed the people they were meant to but also might have hurt others by accident, according to Ball and Cancian. The pictures showed a little opening where pieces of metal were discovered.

The GBU-39 bomb can be set to explode right away when it hits the ground, making a big hole, or it can be set to explode later to go deeper into a target first.

They can also be programmed to explode in the air just before hitting the target, so they can hit more than one thing. But that place also causes a lot of damage over a wide area, which could explain a second explosion even if weapons or other flammable things were far away, Ball said.

Antony Blinken, who is in charge of the US’s foreign affairs, said that the US is waiting for an investigation in Moldova to find out what weapons were used and how they were used.

Blinken said that even though Israel used a small weapon for targeted attacks on terrorists, it can still have bad unintended results.

The experts in defense said that Israel had other, better choices to use instead of the GBU-39 when there were civilians close by.

“Israelis have used small, accurate drones to launch weapons before. ” These accurate attacks have not caused much damage besides hitting the exact target.

Israel could have used a smaller weapon called the mini-Spike in the strike. This weapon would have made less mess and been more targeted at specific Hamas leaders.

The US did not give Israel a delivery of big bombs because they were worried that Israel would use them in a place with a lot of Palestinians after bombing other parts of Gaza. Now, the same amount of people have left Rafah and are living in temporary tent camps and other places.

The strike on Sunday proved that even the small 250-pound bombs that the US has been giving can be too big to use in refugee areas with a lot of people. Cancian said this.

John Kirby, a person who helps keep the US safe, said on Wednesday that the US is still trying to get information from Israel about the deadly Rafah attack. He refused to talk about the weapons Israel used. But he did say that Israel’s public comments show they want to be more careful and exact when targeting.

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