Institute for Contemporary Affairs
Founded jointly with the Wechsler Family Foundation
- The New York Times (December 21, 2023) claimed Israel’s air force used U.S.-provided 2,000-pound bombs in Gaza, specifically a model that “is one of the most destructive munitions in Western military arsenals.” But the Times based its analysis on the wrong bomb, a Mark-84, which explodes on impact with little penetration properties.
- The Washington Post (December 22, 2023), with its satellite and visual analysis, claimed that “the evidence presented by the Israeli government falls short of showing that Hamas had been using the [Shifa] hospital as a command-and-control center.”
- CNN, following the New York Times, claimed that Israel’s 2,000-pound bombs were responsible for the high casualty rate among Gazans. But it appears that CNN was also relying on data from general-use MK-84 bombs and not earth-penetrating bunker busters that explode underground.
- What is clear in one CNN map is that the bunker-buster bombs did not damage nearby schools or injure children, but they were deployed to destroy Hamas tunnels, which also explains why the craters were in a linear pattern as if the Israeli pilots were bombing a long stretch of tunnel.
- Even suggesting that the IDF sought to harm Gazan school children is a blood libel. But genuinely puzzling is why CNN had a very tiny caption that admits Israel used bunker-busting bombs that avoid explosive damage on the surface.
- All Gazan casualty reports emanate from the Hamas-run Ministry of Health, which has a determined desire and motive to inflate the number of civilian dead, especially women and children. The number of Hamas’ dead combatants is never published.
- Hamas’ inflated numbers have become gospel truth, repeated in awe and fury on campuses, television, social media, and in Congress and presidential press conferences. The New York Times, Washington Post, and CNN are co-conspirators in the scam. The consequences of the fraud are Members of Congress calling to cut military aid to Israel, encouraged by Israel detractors.
The New York Times (December 21, 2023) claimed Israel’s air force used U.S.-provided 2,000-pound bombs, specifically a model that “is one of the most destructive munitions in Western military arsenals. When a 2,000-pound bomb detonates,” the Times wrote, it unleashes a blast wave and metal fragments thousands of feet in every direction.” Using “artificial intelligence,” The Times “measured the…craters to find ones that spanned roughly 40 feet across or more, which experts say are typically formed only by 2,000-pound bombs.”1
But, the Times based its analysis on the wrong bomb, a Mark-84, which explodes on impact with little penetration properties. The Times failed to report on a more credible bomb, the BLU-109 “bunker buster bomb,” that penetrates many meters below the surface before it explodes, making it a very effective weapon to destroy deep Hamas tunnels. The craters were the telltale sign of underground voids, such as tunnels, collapsing. According to the Wall Street Journal, “The United States has not previously disclosed the total number of weapons it sent to Israel nor the transfer of 100 BLU-109, 2,000-pound bunker buster bombs.”2
One U.S. intelligence officer (retired) told the author, “The crater in the (Times’) image is ridiculously clean for there to have been a target on top of it. The crater is also symmetrical, which would not be the case if the bomb had glided in.”
If the civilian structures and hospital buildings in Gaza were connected to or located above Hamas tunnels, wouldn’t they be legitimate targets for Israel? Comes the Washington Post (December 22, 2023), with its satellite and visual analysis to show that “the evidence presented by the Israeli government falls short of showing that Hamas had been using the [Shifa] hospital as a command-and-control center.” Expressly, the Post declared, “The rooms connected to the tunnel network discovered by IDF troops showed no immediate evidence of military use by Hamas, and there is no evidence that the tunnels could be accessed from inside hospital wards.” A video of two hostages dragged into Shifa’s entrance was explained away by the Post as circumstantial evidence – “It was not clear if the hostages were taken to the hospital for medical treatment or other purposes.”3
CNN followed the New York Times lead and claimed that Israel’s 2,000-pound bombs were responsible for the high casualty rate among Gazans. It also charged that the flying debris from the bombs has a lethal fragmentation radius of 1,000 feet – the area of exposure to injury or death around the target. However, like the New York Times’ crater analysis, it appears that CNN was relying on data from general-use MK-84 bombs and not the earth-penetrating bunker busters that explode underground. In addition, CNN’s satellite photo analysis of the bombsites indicates that many of them were in open fields, not in populated streets. Insignificant debris from destroyed structures could be seen near the large craters. What is clear in one map is that the bunker-buster bombs did not damage nearby schools or injure children, but they were dropped to destroy Hamas tunnels, which also explains why the craters were in a linear pattern as if the Israeli pilots were bombing a long stretch of tunnel.
Even suggesting that the IDF sought to harm Gazan schoolchildren is a blood libel. But, genuinely puzzling is why CNN had a very tiny caption that admits Israel used bunker-busting bombs that avoid explosive damage on the surface. Practically hidden in the CNN report, under the picture: “Note: CNN and Synthetalc analyzed and isolated craters 12 meters and larger, which experts said are consistent with underground explosions produced by 2,000-pound bombs in light soil found in Gaza.”
CNN presented a Gazan Interior Ministry’s picture of a large crater in Jabalya created by an Israeli 2,000-pound bomb, according to CNN.4
Israel bombed in open areas, as seen in the satellite picture below. The Hamas subterranean command center was apparently hit with a BLU-109 penetration bunker-busting bomb and not a general-use MK-84. The underground explosion could sound and feel like an earthquake in surrounding areas.
All three media analyses relied on “weapons experts and investigators” formerly from the U.S. government, the United Nations, and non-governmental organizations such as Human Rights Watch to detail Israel’s bombing campaign and damage. Not surprisingly, the experts are also known for their animosity to Israel. Some quit their governmental jobs to protest U.S. support for Israel, and one was fired when it was learned he was a collector of Nazi paraphernalia.5
Beware the Experts
CNN cited Marc Garlasco, a former U.S. defense intelligence analyst and UN war crimes investigator, who said the density of Israel’s first month of bombardment in Gaza had “not been seen since Vietnam.” The CNN article failed to include a very relevant fact: Garlasco also served as the senior military expert for Human Rights Watch from 2003 to 2010. During that time, HRW was flogging Israel for what it claimed were war crimes. During his tenure at HRW, it was revealed he was an avid collector of Nazi memorabilia, so much so that he posted on a Nazi collectors’ blog, “That is so cool! The leather SS jacket makes my blood go cold; it is so COOL!” Garlasco was fired from HRW, but his repugnant proclivities were no hindrance to CNN consulting with him.
A leading figure in the anti-Israel analyses at both the Times and the Post is a writer/editor who led several investigations. During the early weeks of the 2023 Gaza fighting, Hill insisted in Twitter and articles that the Al Ahli hospital was bombed by Israel, even after various intelligence sources concluded that an errant rocket fired by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad fell in the hospital’s parking log. In 2021, Evan Hill produced a major New York Times inquiry into the Gaza war in which he accused Israel of deliberately bombing a Gaza apartment building full of civilians. The building collapsed into a tunnel, but then, as now, Hill charged that Israel had not produced evidence of tunnels. Hill, who once worked for Al Jazeera and the NGO Human Rights Watch, dismissed the Israeli accounts of Hamas tunnels. In 2021, he wrote on his Twitter account, “An [Israeli] official told The Times that the military had actually hit a large underground command center and that they had known it was there all along. But, they provided no evidence and said they hadn’t known its size or location before they bombed. Hamas denies that it exists.” [This tweet has subsequently been excised.]6 Hill has repeated his “no evidence” mantra during the 2023 Gaza war.
The bombing of Gaza with smaller diameter bombs, specifically the GBU-39, is advocated by the Times, citing U.S. officials: “It’s still deadly but less destructive.” A marketing video for the GBU-39 shows the bomb penetrating a cement hangar roof, approximately one meter thick, and then exploding.7
See “How a bunker-buster bomb works.” (Youtube) 8
Would a smaller diameter bomb meet Israel’s requirements for destroying Hamas tunnels dug several dozen meters beneath the ground? No. The following picture, a screenshot from a Washington Post video, shows Israel’s attempt in 2021 to bomb and destroy a tunnel under Wehda Street in Gaza, presumably with the GBU-39. Note the small hole opened by the bomb [the black circle] and the wider crater [the yellow square] after the subterranean explosion. It caused no catastrophic damage, and Hamas claimed it quickly repaired the tunnels and road.
The precision bombing with small diameter bombs like the GBU-39 on Wehda Street in Gaza did relatively light damage. Yet, it earned a Washington Post condemnation by Evan Hill in 2021 in his New York Times analysis. The damage from a larger bomb, probably the size of the BLU-109, did substantially more damage – pictured below.
The Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) kit converts unguided bombs, or “dumb bombs,” into all-weather precision-guided munitions. The United States has provided Israel with at least 3,000 JDAM kits since October 7, 2023.9
CNN raised the issue that 40-45% of the 29,000 munitions dropped on Gaza by Israel “were so-called dumb bombs, unguided munitions that can pose a greater threat to civilians, especially in densely populated territories like Gaza.” In another report, CNN claimed, “Nearly half of the Israeli munitions dropped on Gaza are imprecise ‘dumb bombs,’ a U.S. intelligence assessment finds.” CNN relied on experts from the biased Human Rights Watch, including the Nazi memorabilia collector Marc Garlasco.10
Leave aside the issue that every one of Hamas’s 11,000 rockets fired at Israeli civilians was dumb “unguided” missiles, and an estimated 10% fell on Gaza. According to military authority John Spencer of West Point’s Modern War Institute, “A ‘dumb bomb’ does not mean it is not discriminate, precise, or accurate…. A dumb bomb can be as accurate as a [JDAM] precision munition/kit (which can allow a dumb bomb to be dropped from a distance and then guided onto a target). Yes, there is more probability of error [of a few meters], but imprecise is incorrect.”11
The critics of Israel’s conduct of the war, including the UN, also charge that Israel’s bombings are “disproportionate attacks” that could be defined as war crimes. Astronomical numbers of casualties in the hundreds often accompany such charges, such as attacks on Hamas headquarters in Jabalya on October 31, 2023, or on the al-Ahli Hospital (which was actually an errant PIJ rocket that fell in a parking lot). The attack in Jabalya collapsed a Hamas tunnel and killed Hamas commander Ibrahim Biari and many combatants, making the disproportionate claim inapplicable.
“The IDF airstrike has turned Sinwar’s house into a crater.” (Jerusalem Post, Yonah Jeremy Bob)12
Why Would the Media Lie about Gazan Casualties?
All Gazan casualty reports emanate from the Hamas-run Ministry of Health, which has a determined desire and motive to inflate the number of civilian dead, especially women and children. The number of Hamas’s dead combatants is never published. An overpowering question has never been answered: where are the 20,000 bodies? See this author’s “The Casualty Figures in Gaza Are a Scam.”13
Nevertheless, Hamas and its advocates have pulled off one of the grandest public relations con jobs in recent history. “Habeas Corpus” literally means “show me the body.” [A real body, not Hamas’ silicone “dead babies” – another con.]
Hamas’ inflated numbers have become gospel truth, repeated in awe and fury on campuses, television, social media, and in Congress and presidential press conferences. The New York Times, Washington Post, and CNN are co-conspirators in the scam.
The consequences of the fraud are Members of Congress calling to cut military aid to Israel, encouraged by Israel detractors such as J Street, who recently declared, “The relentless air campaign and the invasion underway on the ground have killed tens of thousands of noncombatants. We urge the White House and Congress to impose clear guardrails on Israeli policy as it works to secure further security assistance from Congress in a supplemental aid package.”14
* * *
See Even Hill, https://jcpa.org/article/the-media-in-the-2021-gaza-war-the-new-york-times-journalistic-malpractice/#_edn5↩︎