JDAM fragment

A fragment of the JDAM that struck the Abu Mu'eileq family home on October 22, 2023 in Deir al-Balah, Gaza.

(Photo: Amnesty International)

Israel Used US-Made Munitions to Massacre Two Gazan Families, Including 19 Kids

Amnesty International's findings "should be an urgent wake-up call to the Biden administration," said the group's secretary-general.

An Amnesty International investigation published Tuesday found that the Israeli military used U.S.-made munitions in a pair of illegal airstrikes on homes in the occupied Gaza Strip in October, killing more than 43 people from two families—including 19 children.

Photographs taken by Amnesty fieldworkers show two fragments of what appear to be Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM), the most common kind of weaponry that the U.S. has provided to Israel in recent years. The group noted that codes on the plates of the munition scraps "are associated with JDAMs and Boeing, the manufacturer."

The codes indicate that the munitions were manufactured in 2017 and 2018. JDAM kits are ostensibly designed to turn unguided bombs into GPS-guided weapons.

"The photos of the metal fragments from the weapons clearly show the distinctive rivets and harness system that indicate they served as a part of the frame that surrounds the body of the bomb of a JDAM," Amnesty said.

The two strikes that the organization examined, carried out on October 10 and October 22, killed 43 civilians—14 women, 10 men, and 19 kids. Survivors told Amnesty that they were not warned of an imminent strike.

"Both homes were south of Wadi Gaza, within the area where, on 13 October, the Israeli military had ordered residents of northern Gaza to relocate to," Amnesty said.

Agnès Callamard, the organization's secretary-general, said in a statement that the revelations "should be an urgent wake-up call to the Biden administration."

"The U.S.-made weapons facilitated the mass killings of extended families," said Callamard. "In the face of the unprecedented civilian death toll and scale of destruction in Gaza, the U.S. and other governments must immediately stop transferring arms to Israel that more likely than not will be used to commit or heighten risks of violations of international law."

"To knowingly assist in violations is contrary to the obligation to ensure respect for international humanitarian law," she added. "A state that continues to supply arms being used to commit violations may share responsibility for these violations."

The two airstrikes came in the early stages of an Israeli bombing campaign that has killed nearly 16,000 people in less than two months and displaced roughly 80% of Gaza's 2.3 million people.

The U.S.—Israel's primary arms supplier—has urged its ally in recent days to take steps to limit civilian deaths, but Israel's bombardment and ground assault have intensified since a seven-day pause ended last week, killing at least 900 people in just several days.

Even as Israel ignores its tepid calls to protect civilians, the Biden administration has continued to send weaponry to the Israeli military, deepening its complicity. Citing unnamed U.S. officials, The Wall Street Journalreported last week that the Biden administration has transferred more than 100 2,000-pound bunker-buster bombs to Israel as part of the flow of weapons that started soon after the October 7 Hamas-led attack.

According to the Journal, the U.S. has thus far provided Israel with roughly 15,000 bombs and 57,000 artillery shells. The Biden administration is currently pushing Congress to approve an additional $10 billion in military aid for Israel.

Based on the amount of damage inflicted, Amnesty estimates that the munition that hit the al-Najjar family home—killing 24 people—likely weighed 2,000 pounds, while the bomb that struck the Abu Mu'eileq home likely weighed at least 1,000 pounds.

"Our lives have been destroyed in a moment. Our family has been destroyed. Something that was unthinkable is now our reality."

Suleiman Salman al-Najjar told Amnesty that he was returning from the hospital after receiving treatment for kidney problems when he learned that his home had been bombed. The Israeli strike killed his wife, two daughters, and two sons as well as three neighbors.

"I rushed home and saw a scene of utter destruction. I could not believe my eyes. Everybody was under the rubble. The house was completely pulverized. The bodies were reduced to shreds," he said. "Our lives have been destroyed in a moment. Our family has been destroyed. Something that was unthinkable is now our reality."

Samaher Abu Mu'eileq, a survivor of Israel's October 22 strike, told Amnesty, "I had just left the house where my sisters-in-law and my nephews and nieces were sitting, a minute before the house was bombed."

"I walked downstairs and just as I was opening my front door, my brother's house next door was bombed," Abu Mu'eileq said. "I was thrown against the door by the force of the explosion and was injured in my face and neck. I can't understand why the house was bombed. My sisters-in-law and their children and my stepmother were killed, all of them women and children… Others were injured. What is the reason for such crime against civilians?"

Amnesty said the strikes should be investigated as war crimes and argued that the Biden administration "may share responsibility for serious violations of international humanitarian law committed by Israel with U.S.-supplied weapons, as all states have a duty not to knowingly contribute to internationally wrongful acts by other states."

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