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Amnesty says US-made missiles used in Gaza strikes that killed 43

An Amnesty International investigation revealed that US-made munitions were used in two Israeli air strikes in Gaza in October that killed 43 civilians.

The human rights organisation said its members discovered distinctive remnants of the munition amid the debris of demolished homes in central Gaza after two strikes that killed 43 civilians, including 19 children, 14 women, and 10 men.

The investigation revealed that the survivors in both instances had received no warning of the impending airstrikes.

On 10 October, a strike targeted the al-Najjar family residence in Deir al-Balah, resulting in the deaths of 24 people. On 22 October, an Israeli airstrike also hit the Abu Mu’eileq family home in the same city, killing 19 people. Both residences were situated south of Wadi Gaza, within the region where, on 13 October, the Israeli military had instructed residents from northern Gaza to evacuate.

“The fact that US-made munitions are being used by the Israeli military in unlawful attacks with deadly consequences for civilians should be an urgent wake-up call to the Biden administration,” Agnes Callamard, Amnesty International’s secretary general said.

“The US-made weapons facilitated the mass killings of extended families,” she said.

“Two families have been decimated in these strikes, further proof that the Israeli military is responsible for unlawfully killing and injuring civilians in its bombardment of Gaza.”

Amnesty reported that its team of weapons experts and a remote sensing analyst conducted an analysis using satellite imagery and photographs of the affected homes. The investigation revealed that US-made Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) were used by the Israeli military in two air strikes in Gaza. JDAM is a guidance kit that converts existing unguided bombs into precision-guided “smart” munitions.

The visuals revealed fragments of ordnance recovered from the rubble and depicted the extent of the destruction. The images were captured by Amnesty’s fieldworkers as part of the investigative process.

“In the face of the unprecedented civilian death toll and scale of destruction in Gaza, the US 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,” Ms Callamard said.

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

Amnesty’s investigation stated that the air strikes in question constituted either deliberate assaults on civilians or civilian structures or indiscriminate attacks and hence the global human rights organisation is urging for a thorough investigation into these incidents, claiming that such actions should be investigated as war crimes.

“The organisation found that these air strikes were either direct attacks on civilians or civilian objects or indiscriminate attacks,” the report says, calling for the attacks to be investigated as “war crimes”.

The US provides an average of $3bn in military aid to Israel every year. In response to Hamas’s 7 October attack in Israel, the Biden administration sought an extra $10.6bn in military aid.

The US State Department and the Pentagon said that they were reviewing the Amnesty report.

State Department spokesperson Matt Miller said: “We have made clear in our discussions with Israeli leaders that we are deeply concerned about the protection of civilians in this conflict. We expect Israel to only target legitimate targets and to adhere to the laws of armed conflict.”

Pentagon spokesperson Brigadier General Patrick Ryder said on Wednesday: “We are going to continue to consult closely with our Israeli partners on the importance of taking civilian safety into account in conducting their operations.”

The families of those killed in the two Israeli airstrikes in Gaza are devastated. “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, whose wife and four children were killed, told Amnesty.

Samaher Abu Mu’eileq, who survived the strike on 22 October said: “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. 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?”

According to the ministry of health in Gaza, the Israeli attacks have killed more than 15,000 people, mostly civilians, including 5,500 children.