‘Made in the US’ – Weapons Experts Say US-Made Munitions Used in Rafah Airstrike

US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller. (Design: Palestine Chronicle)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

“Serial numbers on the remnants of the munitions also matched those for a manufacturer of GBU-39 parts based in California – pointing to more evidence the bombs were made in the US.”

While the White House maintains that Israel has not “yet” launched a full-scale military operation in Rafah, an analysis of video footage and a review by explosive weapons experts reportedly revealed that munitions manufactured in the US were used in a deadly Israeli airstrike on a displacement camp in Rafah on Sunday.

At least 45 Palestinians, mostly women and children, were killed in the airstrike which caused a fire that swept through the camp. Many were burnt alive, with footage shared on social media showing a baby beheaded in the attack. Close to 250 Palestinians were injured in the strike.

At a press briefing on Monday, US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said the administration was “pressing” the Israeli government to investigate the attack.

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“We’ve seen, as I said, the preliminary investigation where Israel has claimed, Israel said that they – they used the smallest bomb available to them to go after a very precise target. This wasn’t a 500-pound bomb or a 2000-pound bomb. I think it was like a 37-kilogram or 37-pound,” he said. “A much smaller weapon designed to hit one site 1.7 kilometers away from the Mawasi area where they have told civilians to move.”

Miller said “When it comes to our policy, we have made clear that we oppose any full-scale military operation, and that – what the ramifications to our policy would be of them launching such an operation in Rafah. We haven’t seen them do that yet.”

‘Risks in Densely Populated Areas’

Meanwhile, a CNN analysis of video from the scene and a review by explosive weapons experts has found that “munitions made in the United States were used in the deadly Israeli strike on a displacement camp in Rafah on Sunday.”

CNN said it “geolocated videos showing tents in flames in the aftermath of the strike on the camp for internally displaced people known as ‘Kuwait Peace Camp 1’.”

“In video shared on social media, which CNN geolocated to the same scene by matching details including the camp’s entrance sign and the tiles on the ground, the tail of a US-made GBU-39 small diameter bomb (SDB) is visible,” the report said, citing four explosive weapons experts who reviewed the video for CNN.

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The report said that according to explosive weapons expert Chris Cobb-Smith, the GBU-39, which Boeing manufactures, “is a high-precision munition ‘designed to attack strategically important point targets,’ and result in low collateral damage.”

However, said Cobb-Smith “using any munition, even of this size, will always incur risks in a densely populated area.” The weapons expert is also a former British Army artillery officer.

‘The Warhead Portion is Distinct’

Trevor Ball, a former US Army senior explosive ordnance disposal team member also identified the fragment as being from a GBU-39, said CNN.

“The warhead portion (of the munition) is distinct, and the guidance and wing section is extremely unique compared to other munitions,” Ball said. “Guidance and wing sections of munitions are often the remnants left over even after a munition detonates. I saw the tail actuation section and instantly knew it was one of the SDB/GBU-39 variants.”

Ball, said CNN, “also concluded that while there is a variant of the GBU-39 known as the Focused Lethality Munition (FLM) which has a larger explosive payload but is designed to cause even less collateral damage, this was not the variant used in this case.”

“The FLM has a carbon fiber composite warhead body and is filled with tungsten ground into a powder. Photos of FLM testing have shown objects in the test coated in tungsten dust, which is not present [in video from the scene],” he told CNN.

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Manufacturer ‘Based in California’

The report said, “Serial numbers on the remnants of the munitions also matched those for a manufacturer of GBU-39 parts based in California – pointing to more evidence the bombs were made in the US.”

The channel spoke to two additional explosive weapons experts – Richard Weir, senior crisis and conflict researcher at Human Rights Watch, and Chris Lincoln-Jones, a former British Army artillery officer and weapons and targeting expert. The two experts “identified the fragment as being part of a US-manufactured GBU-39 when reviewing the video for CNN, though they were unable to comment on the variant used.”

White House Protests

On Tuesday, hundreds of protesters gathered in front of the White House in the US capital to protest Israel’s attack on Sunday, calling on the US government to end funding Israel’s war on Gaza.

The protest was supported by several pro-Palestine groups including the Palestinian Youth Movement, the Party for Socialism and Liberation and Maryland for Palestine, according to the Anadolu news agency.

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The protesters carried banners saying “Free Palestine,” “End All US Funding of Israeli Apartheid,” “All Eyes on Rafah” and “Stop This Slaughter.”

The protestors chanted “Stop bombing Rafah now” and “End the occupation now.”

(PC, Anadolu)

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