Home NEWS Israel Gaza War, 2000 Pound Bombs, MK-84: “No Safe Ground…”

Israel Gaza War, 2000 Pound Bombs, MK-84: “No Safe Ground…”

'No Safe Ground...' - How Israel Used 2,000-Pound Bombs In Gaza: Reports

New Delhi:

In the first weeks of its war on GazaIsrael used its most destructive bombs – the terrifying 2,000-pound, United States-made MK-84 ordnance – in areas it called “safe” for civilians and along evacuation routes it claimed were “safe” for innocent Gazans to travel to escape bombing, according to Artificial Intelligence-backed analysis of visual evidence by The New York Times and CNN.

These bombs, the Times said, were used at least 200 times and that “… even for those who followed every evacuation order, there was still no safety to be found”.

Both publications cited military experts as saying bombs of that size “are almost never dropped… in densely-populated areas”. And Gaza is one of the most densely populated in the world, with over two million people cramped into a 362 square kilometre strip of land. In fact, given the potential impact of such weapons, international humanitarian law prohibits indiscriminate bombing.

CNN quoted Marc Garlasco, a former war crimes investigator for the United Nations, as saying the ferocity of Tel Aviv’s bombing in the first month of the war “had not been seen since Vietnam”.

“Even in both Iraq wars it was never that dense.” CNN reported the US only dropped a 2,000-pound bomb once in its war on ISIS.

Heavy munitions like the 2,000-pound bombs have also been blamed for the catastrophic death toll in Gaza; authorities in the Hamas-controlled Strip said this week that over 20,000 people had died.

Most are women and children, Gaza Strip authorities said.

READ | Israel Army Claims Killed 2,000 Gaza Operatives This Month

On Thursday the Israeli army said it had bombed “scores of targets” in the Gaza Strip, and issued new “evacuation” orders for Khan Yunis in southern Gaza, previously a “safe” location.

NDTV Explains | Israel Orders A Million Gazans To Flee, Where Will They Go?

This was after demanding 1.1 million people flee to the south from their homes in the north. There isn’t much more of Gaza left for the civilians to flee to.

Israel’s 2,000-pound bombs

According to The New York TimesIsrael has both the GBU-39 and MK-84 bombs.

For context, the GBU-39, which is far more precise bomb, and can strike targets underground – a key requirement for Tel Aviv as it combats Hamas’ infamous tunnel network. It has an explosive capacity of 37 pounds and on detonation in open areas can kill, or injure, people in a 1,000-foot radius.

The MK-84 has 25 times more explosive power and a blast radius thrice that.

There is also greater fragmentation danger from the larger bomb; this is when pieces of the metal casing explode on impact and can shoot hundreds of feet all around, killing people the bomb didn’t.

The IDF, US officials told the Times, prefers the larger bombs because they are more effective at destroying tunnels, quickly.

READ | “Biggest Hamas Tunnel” With 4-Km Network Found Under Gaza: Israel

In some cases, when these bombs explode, apart from the devastation, they leave “earthquake-like” craters than can measure over 20 metres wide and more than 13 metres deep.

Perhaps most worryingly, American intelligence sources believe over 40 per cent of the nearly 30,000 air-to-surface bombs dropped on Gaza so far are “dumb bombs”, meaning they are not guided and pose greater civilian threats, particularly in densely-populated areas.

The MK-84 is a non-guided bomb that is designed for “maximum blast and explosive effects”.

What Did Israel Say To These Reports?

When asked about the use of these bombs in civilian areas, an Israeli military spokesperson told the Times the “priority” is “destroying Hamas” and dismissed “questions of this kind”.

These will be looked into “later”, the spokesperson said.

Israel, which has said it is making every effort to minimise civilian deaths, is constrained in its efforts to root out Hamas terrorists by the urban landscape in Gaza, where buildings are packed together.

READ | Israel Begins Pumping Seawater Into Hamas’ Tunnels In Gaza: Report

Also a challenge, of course, are Hamas’ tunnels, and destroying these is a challenge, as is the fact that Hamas terrorists use civilian populations as shields to hide military assets and facilities.

READ | Watch: Israeli Army Displays Hamas Tunnel Under Gaza Hospital

What Did The United States Say?

American officials have said Israel needs to be guard against civilian casualties, but Washington, the Times noted, continues to send the larger bombs.

“It certainly appears that (Israel’s) tolerance for civilian harm compared to expected operational benefits is significantly different than what we would accept as the US,” Larry Lewis, a former senior advisor to the US State Department on the subject of civilian casualties, told CNN.

The United States has shipped over 5,000 of MK-84 bombs since the war began.

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