Democrats Surprised To Learn Bombs Are Used To Bomb People

Sen. Elizabeth Warren condemned Israel for killing Palestinian civilians with bombs that she had voted to send Israel.


Bombs kill people. When someone provides bombs to a government at war, those weapons will be used to kill people. It's a simple fact but one that seems to have eluded Democrats.

After voting to send bombs to the Israeli military, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.) condemned the Israeli military for killing Palestinian civilians with an American-made bomb. And after urging the Israeli military to use smaller munitions, the Biden administration found itself scrambling to deal with a mass civilian casualty event caused by one of those smaller weapons.

On Sunday, the Israeli Air Force bombed Tel al-Sultan, a neighborhood of Rafah that Israel had previously designated a safe zone for fleeing civilians. The Israeli government claimed the airstrike successfully killed two senior Hamas commanders. But a fire started by the bomb spread through the densely-packed tent city, burning to death at least 45 people, including 12 women, eight children, and three elderly. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that the civilian deaths were a "tragic mistake."

British doctor James Smith called the fire "one of the most horrific things that I have seen or heard of in all of the weeks that I've been working in Gaza." CNN found pieces of a GBU-39/B Small Diameter Bomb, a type of 250-pound bomb that the U.S. military had rush-shipped to Israel following the Hamas attacks last October, with serial numbers from a California manufacturer.

"The Israeli bombing of a refugee camp inside a designated safe zone is horrific," Warren stated on social media. "Israel has a duty to protect innocent civilians and Palestinians seeking shelter in Rafah have nowhere safe to go. Netanyahu's assault of Rafah must stop. We need an immediate cease-fire."

Last month, Warren had voted for a $26.38 billion U.S. military aid package to Israel, as Rep. Thomas Massie (R–Ky.) pointed out. "Ma'am, you voted to send those bombs to Israel," he wrote in a response to Warren's statement.

Warren's office did not respond to a request for comment. In a statement last month, Warren noted that she voted for the aid package after the Biden administration agreed to certify that every military receiving U.S. aid "follows international law, protects civilians in war zones and allows for humanitarian aid."

On May 10, the administration ruled that there are "reasonable" accusations that Israel breaks the laws of war but that the Israeli government gave "credible and reliable" assurances about how it plans to use U.S. weapons. President Joe Biden also said that he would not be "supplying the weapons" for an Israeli invasion of Rafah that threatened the civilian population and held up a shipment of Mark 80 series bombs, which were responsible for some of the worst mass-casualty attacks in Gaza.

At a Senate hearing earlier this month, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin presented the GBU-39/B Small Diameter Bomb as a safer alternative to the Mark 80 series: "A Small Diameter Bomb, which is a precision weapon, that's very useful in a dense, built-up environment, but maybe not so much a 2,000-pound bomb that could create a lot of collateral damage."

Last October, the Israeli military used two American-made 2,000-pound bombs to assassinate a Hamas commander, killing dozens of civilians in the Jabaliya refugee camp.

Austin is right that 2,000-pound bombs, which can kill everything within 600 feet, are more likely to harm bystanders than lighter alternatives. And as the name suggests, the Small Diameter Bomb has a smaller lethal radius. However, that doesn't make the bombs any less lethal for people inside the radius—or people caught up in secondary fires caused by the weapon.

Much of the Israeli army's "precision" targeting is carried out by artificial intelligence programs. The Israeli publication +972 Magazine has reported that one AI targeting system called "Lavender" is allowed to kill a large number of civilians per Hamas fighter, and is believed to have a 10 percent error rate when identifying fighters in the first place.

Another program revealed by +972, called "Where's Daddy," targets Hamas fighters who have left the battlefield and gone home to their families.

In other words, the type of weapon matters but how the weapon is used matters more. Despite Biden's earlier threats and assurances over human rights, the Biden administration is keen to defer to Israeli claims.

"As a result of this strike on Sunday, I have no policy changes to speak to," White House spokesman John Kirby said on Tuesday. "It just happened. The Israelis are going to investigate it. We're going to be taking great interest in what they find in that investigation. And we'll see where it goes from there."