US advises Israel to 'use smaller bombs' to minimise civilian deaths in Gaza: report

US advises Israel to 'use smaller bombs' to minimise civilian deaths in Gaza: report
3 min read
05 November, 2023
With almost 10,000 Palestinians dead in Gaza, the US has come under some pressure to curtail what many see as Israel's wanton massacre of civilians in the besieged Palestinian enclave.
Israel's devastating bombing has destroyed even refugee camps [Getty]

US officials said they have outlined several steps for Israel to reduce civilian casualties in Gaza – including using smaller bombs, according to a New York Times report published Saturday.

Though Secretary of State Anthony Blinken spoke on his recent trip to Israel and Jordan of  the "concrete steps" the US proposed for Israel to "minimise civilian deaths" in Gaza, where almost 10,000 people – including more than 4,000 children – have been killed since relentless Israeli bombardment began on 7 October.

Blinken had refrained from outlining what said "concrete steps" were.

However, US officials, speaking to the New York Times under the condition of anonymity, said the measures proposed by the US to reduce civilian deaths include gathering more intelligence on "Hamas command and control networks" before launching strikes, using smaller bombs to collapse the tunnel network, and employing their ground forces to separate civilian population centres from where the militants are concentrated.

In the first two weeks of the war, roughly 90 percent of the munitions Israel dropped in Gaza were satellite-guided bombs of 1,000 to 2,000 pounds, a senior US military official told NYT.

Israel used at least two 2,000-pound bombs during an airstrike on Tuesday on Jabaliya refugee camps, a dense area just north of Gaza City, according to experts and an analysis conducted by the New York Times of satellite images, photos and videos. At least 50 people were killed in that strike.

The US has said that these types of bombs are not suitable for airstrikes in a densely populated area like Gaza, due to the likelihood of their use leading to mass casualties

The solution allegedly proposed by the US is to now send more small bombs to Israel, while advising Tel Aviv to use similar tactics to those the US employed during its occupation of Iraq.

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US under pressure amid Israeli dismissals

This comes as the US is facing increasing domestic and international outcry, particularly from its Arab and Muslim allies, as it refuses to support an immediate humanitarian ceasefire.

In a meeting in Jordan on Saturday, the foreign ministers of several Arab states again impressed upon Blinken that there must be a ceasefire now, to avoid further death and even more catastrophic humanitarian crisis unfolding in Gaza.

Though this has forced the Biden administration to be more vocal in saying that Israel has to do more to protect civilians, the US continues to oppose a ceasefire, claiming it would only benefit Hamas. The US has instead called for "humanitarian pauses".

But with Israel refusing to even support the US position on these pauses, it might not be a surprise that it also opposes the US proposals for minimising civilian casualties.

Israel has reportedly dismissed Washington's proposals for it to model its tactics on the US occupation of Iraq, stating that sending troops into alleged Hamas tunnels would be "suicide missions" and claiming that Gaza City’s highly dense urban environment poses a bigger challenge than any faced by US forces in Iraq. 

Editor's note: An earlier version of this article said the number of children killed in Gaza by Sunday was "close to 5,000", based on an erroneously reported death toll of 4,800. The number of children killed was 4,008, according to the Gaza health ministry; the article has been updated to reflect this.