Letter: US Munitions Produce Horrific Death and Destruction in Palestine


American 2000 pound joint direct attack munitions. Photo: PICRYL / Public Domain

Bombs. The US sells thousands of tons of bombs to Israel, bought with the financial aid we send to them. These bombs range from 250 to 2,000 pounds.

A New York Times investigation in December found that American 2,000-pound bombs were responsible for some of the worst attacks on Palestinian civilians since the war in Gaza began after Hamas attacked Israel on October 7.

The military aid to Israel is funded under a 2016 agreement known as a memorandum of understanding that committed the United States to giving Israel $38 billion in weapons over 10 years. Additionally, President Biden last month signed an aid package that will send about $15 billion in additional military aid. According to the Council on Foreign Relations, U.S. military aid to Israel has amounted to $216 billion since Israel’s founding in 1948.

When detonated, the bomb’s smooth skin shatters into razor-sharp fragments that can shred human bodies and unarmored vehicles alike. If one of the 2000 pound bombs struck the Cook Building in Amherst (northeast corner of Main Street and North Pleasant Street), it would completely disintegrate that building and everything in a 52 foot radius leaving an 11 foot deep crater, immediately killing everyone in that radius.

The “lethal area” would have a radius of 1214 feet; think of a circle encompassing north on North Pleasant Steeet just short of Hallock Street, west on Amity almost to Lincoln Avenue, and down Route 9 down to South Prospect Street; south on South Pleasant Street to the Amherst College Loeb Center; and east on both sides of Main Street down to Webster Street. Everyone in this area would be killed. There is more: damages would extend another 1430 feet, destroying Amherst High School, most of Amherst College and the residential area west of downtown as far as Cosby Street. Everyone in those buildings would be killed or severely injured.

This is what is occurring in Gaza every day, with our tax dollars and the blessing of the Biden administration, most, if not all Republicans in Congress, and many Democrats, including Edward Markey and Elizabeth Warren. Jim McGovern voted against this additional lethal aid.

It is outrageous that anyone is accused of antisemitism who opposes this brutality; and Jews like myself of being self-hating.

Gerry Weiss

Gerry Weiss, a psychotherapist, was a member of the Amherst Select Board from 2004 to 2010 and a member of Town Meeting for 19 years.

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9 thoughts on “Letter: US Munitions Produce Horrific Death and Destruction in Palestine

  1. PS. The Gazette has so far refused to print this letter, nor will the editor speak to me about it.

  2. brave, factual, detailed.. This letter brings the reality of U. S. support for the war on Palestinians before the conscience of every Amherst reader. The use of these bombs by Israel in Gaza and their provision to Israel by the U. S. cannot be justified by any international law or treaty. In fact, their use in civilian areas, given the nature and destructiveness of these bombs, clearly violates specific parts of the international criminal code and prohibitions re the conduct of any war or military operation.

  3. Contrary to what Gerry Weiss believes, not every 2,000 pound bomb has the same blast radius. The damage inflicted by these 2,000 pound bombs depends on a number of variables, including whether the bomb detonates above or below ground, inside a building, and the angle and velocity of the bomb’s delivery. Commentary magazine recently featured a lengthy article about the media’s focus on the maximum possible damage from such 2,000 pound bombs, instead of reporting on ways they can also be used more narrowly. The article can be found at https://www.commentary.org/articles/david-adesnik/media-lies-about-israeli-bombs/

    While civilian deaths in Gaza are a tragedy, the responsibility for such deaths belongs to Hamas, which is deliberately hiding among the civilian population of Gaza, which is a war crime. The Israel Defense Forces have gone to considerable lengths to avoid civilian casualties, including making many thousands of phone calls and dropping leaflets.

  4. While using civilians as shields is a war crime, so is bombing civilians who are being used as shields.

  5. Thank you Laura. Mr. Starr, imagine that people are hiding known terrorists in the Cook building. People perhaps that are sympathetic to their cause. The gov’t then drops leaflets on downtown Amherst and nearby, like all over Amherst College, that they are going to bomb the Cook building. You seem to be saying too bad (“a tragedy”) for all the people that will die (primarily people not hiding terrorists such as everyone at Amherst High School) as well as the incredible property damage that will ensue. Nitpicking my figures does not eliminate the brutality of Israeli/US war on Gaza. International law does not differentiate between deliberate targeting of civilians and indiscriminate bombing of civilians. Nor does morality make that differentiation. It is deliberate indiscrimination because it is quicker and safer for IDF troops to drop massive bombs rather than engage in ground forces going into that building.

  6. When will it stop? When will the people alleging that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza finally accept that, while the situation is certainly tragic, it is not genocide by any stretch. Why continue this nonsense? Genocide is defined as “the deliberate killing of a large number of people from a particular nation or ethnic group with the aim of destroying that nation or group.” Genocide is what Putin is trying to do in Ukraine. Genocide is the Holocaust, Armenia, Darfur, Bosnia, the Uyghurs, native Americans. The civilian deaths in Gaza are part of a war that was started in a vicious attack on October 7 by the government of Gaza against a mostly civilian population in Israel. While terribly sad and avoidable, it is not genocide. The only genocidal action in this conflict is the effort by Hamas to indiscriminately kill as many Israelis as possible. The often-heard chant of “from the river to the sea” involves eliminating the Jewish population of the area. That qualifies as genocide, not the collateral casualties in a war started by the government of Gaza and prolonged by the refusal to return the hostages. It could all end tomorrow except that Hamas wants it to continue, even at the expense of their own people.

    The continuing use of the word “genocide” to describe the tragedy in Gaza only serves to further inflame passions and impede any useful discussion.

    David Sloviter

  7. Mr. Sloviter says,

    The often-heard chant of “from the river to the sea” involves eliminating the Jewish population of the area. That qualifies as genocide, not the collateral casualties in a war started by the government of Gaza,

    A Chant does not qualify as genocide — it is words.

    A powerful country receiving money and weapons from the USA and killing tens of thousands of people and destroying their infrastructure sounds much more like a genocide even if you want to call it “collateral casualties”

  8. Let us all have the moral clarity to not try to justify wrongful acts with a “but he started it” or “but they are just as bad”.

    Killing a child — or an adult civilian! — is a moral atrocity, whether the act is done by a friend, an ally, or by the government of a people who were themselves gravely wronged yesterday, or decades ago.

    If you support Israel, if you love Israeli people, or democracies, or peace — then you must condemn wrongful actions and atrocities committed in the names of Israel, the Israeli people, democracies, or peace.

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