ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 142

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Biden warned 'indiscriminate bombing' costing Israel support

IAF: Gaza strikes precise, there’s no indiscriminate bombing, but mistakes can happen

Brig. Gen. Omer Tischler details principles behind operation against Hamas and other terror targets; rejects ‘misleading’ claims regarding so-called dumb bombs

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

Brig. Gen. Omer Tischler, the IAF's chief of staff, issues a video statement December 27, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
Brig. Gen. Omer Tischler, the IAF's chief of staff, issues a video statement December 27, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

A senior Israeli Air Force officer on Wednesday rejected claims that Israel’s airstrikes in the Gaza Strip have been indiscriminate, saying it follows careful procedures before hitting each target.

“Since the October 7 massacre, the Israeli Air Force has been conducting a precise, focused and process-based campaign. I will walk you through the principles that we keep in mind while planning operations and address misleading claims,” Brig. Gen. Omer Tischler, the IAF’s chief of staff, said in a video statement.

“Our planning principles include: 1. Striking targets based on intel, and military necessity for close air support. 2. Evacuation efforts: They enable us to strike and maneuver in areas with minimal civilian presence. 3. Selecting the right munitions to minimize collateral damage: This allows us to accurately strike Hamas even though it operates within civilian areas. 4. Real-time monitoring: During a strike, we monitor the target area. If it does not comply with our Standard Operating Procedures, we abort,” he said in the statement.

While US President Joe Biden has been largely supportive of Israel’s military campaign in Gaza, which erupted after the terror group’s October 7 massacres, in mid-December he warned that Israel was losing global support due to its “indiscriminate bombing.”

War erupted after Hamas’s October 7 massacre, which saw some 3,000 terrorists burst across the border into Israel from the Gaza Strip by land, air and sea, killing some 1,200 people and seizing over 240 hostages of all ages under the cover of a deluge of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli towns and cities. The vast majority of those killed as gunmen seized border communities were civilians — including babies, children and the elderly.

In response, Israel vowed to eliminate the terror group and launched a wide-scale offensive in the Strip aimed at destroying its military and governance capabilities.

Tischler also addressed media reports on Israel’s use of unguided bombs, in an apparent reference to a December 14 CNN report. “The term ‘dumb bombs’ describes munitions that are not guidance-based. These are standard munitions that are regularly used by militaries worldwide,” he said.

“The claim that such munitions are indiscriminate or cause uncontrollable damage is misleading. Even though these munitions are not GPS-guided, they are still used accurately. They are released at a specific release point calculated by the aircraft’s system to allow the pilot to strike a target accurately,” the IAF officer explained.

People stand on the edge of a crater caused by an Israeli bombardment in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on December 19, 2023. (Mahmud HAMS / AFP)

The officer addressed questions about massive craters seen in the Gaza Strip from IAF strikes, reported last week by the New York Times. “Heavy munitions are detonated underground, preventing fragmentation and significantly reducing the blast wave and debris as a result. In these strikes, the resulting crater visible in satellite images indicates that the underground detonation has actually occurred on a military target, and directly minimized damage to the surrounding areas,” he said.

“Additionally, in many cases, we use small PGMs (precision-guided munitions) to strike targets near sensitive areas. Those targets include rocket launchers, commanders, tunnel shafts, and command and control centers, which are located throughout the Gaza Strip,” Tischler said.

“But let me be very clear. In war, mistakes can happen. While they are exceptional, they are still made. We study them, learn from them, and make changes to our process as a result,” he adds.

Tischler’s comments came as Hamas accused Israel of killing 68 people in a Sunday strike in Gaza’s Maghazi camp. A military official quoted in Hebrew media Thursday said that the “extensive collateral damage” was caused by the wrong choice of munitions, and could have been avoided. The IDF later said that it had targeted Hamas gunmen in the area and expressed regret for harm to non-combatants.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report. 

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