Almost Half of Israeli Strikes Are With 'Dumb Bombs'

US wants more use of precision-guided missiles to minimize civilian casualties
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 15, 2023 9:33 AM CST
Israel's Use of 'Dumb Bombs' Comes Under Scrutiny
Palestinians search for survivors of the Israeli bombing in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2023.   (AP Photo/Hatem Ali)

Nearly half of the munitions Israel has fired into Gaza in the last two months have been unguided, which undercuts Israel's claim that it's trying to minimize civilian casualties and helps explain the huge civilian death toll, CNN reports. Just 55% to 60% of the more than 29,000 air-to-ground munitions fired into Gaza since Oct. 7 have been precision-guided, according to a US intelligence assessment. The remaining 40% to 45% were unguided munitions, which put civilians at risk in densely populated areas like Gaza, per CNN and the Washington Post. Nearly 18,800 people have been killed and almost 51,000 wounded in Gaza since Oct. 7, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

On Tuesday, as 153 nations backed a UN General Assembly resolution demanding an immediate cease-fire in Gaza, President Joe Biden offered "some of the sharpest US criticism yet of Israel's approach to the war" when he said Israel has been engaged in "indiscriminate bombing" in Gaza, per the Post. Amnesty International claims US weapons have been involved in what appear to be "direct attacks on civilians or civilian objects or indiscriminate attacks" by Israel, which should be "investigated as war crimes." Indiscriminate attacks are banned under international humanitarian law.

"The Israeli military should be using the most precise weapons ... that it has available and be using the smallest weapon appropriate for the target," Brian Castner, a weapons investigator at Amnesty, tells the Post. But it's using "very, very large weapons ... in a densely populated area" where "you're far more likely to kill civilians nearby," he says. Israel's precision-guided munitions have an accuracy of about 10 feet, while its unguided munitions have an accuracy of about 100 feet, Marc Garlasco, a former military adviser at the Defense Intelligence Agency, tells the Post. However, the US believes an unguided munition dropped from a fighter jet on a steep dive, in what's known as dive bombing, "is similarly precise to a guided munition," per CNN.

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White House spokesman John Kirby said national security adviser Jake Sullivan "asked hard questions" about Israel's military campaign when he met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Thursday in Tel Aviv. "Jake also discussed efforts Israel is now undertaking to be more surgical and precise in their targeting and efforts that they are undertaking to help increase the flow of aid," Kirby said. However, an official tells the Post that the US has not set a deadline for Israel to begin more precise targeting as it is "still in the middle of the main phase [of] high-intensity clearance operations." (More Israel-Hamas war stories.)

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