Biden administration will not confirm reports that Israel used US weapons in Rafah attack

The Biden administration declined Wednesday to confirm that Israel used U.S. bombs in the deadly weekend strike that killed dozens of displaced Palestinians at a Rafah camp.

CNN first reported that the remains of the US-produced GBU-39 small diameter bomb (SDB) were found at the scene, according to four explosive weapons experts who reviewed a video shared on social media .

Weapons experts and visual evidence The New York Times also concluded that these were GBU-39 bombs, designed and sold in the United States.

“We're not going to talk about individual payload loadings on individual Israeli aircraft,” White House spokesman John Kirby told reporters Wednesday. “THE [Israeli military] should talk about their conduct of this particular operation, and that would include… a discussion of what was used.

At least 45 people were killed and more than 240 others injured after the Israeli army used planes to strike the outskirts of Rafah, causing a fire. The majority of those killed were women and children, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

Kirby added that Israel has already publicly stated that it uses precision-guided munitions with a payload of around 37 pounds, which, if true, “would certainly indicate a desire to be more deliberate and more precise in their targeting.

Asked Tuesday about the munitions used in the Rafah strike, Pentagon deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh told reporters: “I don't know what type of munitions were used in that airstrike. I should refer you to the Israelis to talk about this.

U.S. officials have pushed Israel to use more precise bombs with a smaller payload or explosion, which they say could reduce civilian casualties.

The Israeli military also declined to specify the type of bomb used, although an Israeli military spokesperson told The Hill that the weaponry was “a precise and specific type of munition that carries a small amount of explosives.” “.

He added that the Israeli military “gets specific types of munitions from allies that they know are a very specific weapon.” And that's why we want to use them as much as possible to reduce losses as much as possible. »

Israeli army spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari told a news conference Tuesday that the strike was carried out “using two munitions with small warheads” containing 17 kilograms of explosive material, “the smallest ammunition our planes can use”.

Palestinian journalist Alam Sadeq also filmed munitions fragments found in the camp bearing a unique identification code that the Times linked to Colorado aerospace manufacturer Woodward, which supplies parts for bombs including the GBU-39.

The United States is Israel's largest arms supplier, with a recent foreign aid package including $26 billion for the Israel-Hamas conflict – including $15 billion in deadly assistance to the Israeli military – signed by President Biden last month.

Washington's support continued even as international calls grew for Biden to pressure Israel to crack down on the deaths of Palestinian civilians in the brutal war in Gaza that has killed an estimated 36,000 people, the majority of them Palestinians. women and children.

In a video shot by witnesses after the latest nighttime attack in Rafah, images of people suffering amid the flames can be seen, including a man holding the body of a decapitated child.

But Hagari said the army was targeting two Hamas leaders, who he said were killed in the attack. He added that the forces did not expect the bombs to harm civilians, even though they were dropped near tents housing displaced Palestinians.

An investigation has since been opened by the Israeli military, saying the fires may have been started by a secondary explosion.

“We have no more details today than yesterday about what caused the explosion and fire that killed these innocent Palestinians in the tent compound,” Kirby said. “We have been in contact with our Israeli counterparts again, overnight and today, and we are trying to get as much information as possible.”

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