Original article (in BCS) was published on 2/2/2024; Author: Marija Manojlović
Several web portals have published articles alleging that Israelis in Gaza are disguising bombs as food cans to trap Palestinians. However, the video referenced by these articles does not substantiate these claims.
On January 23, 2024, the web portal Slobodna Dalmacija released an article with the headline:
“Israelis set traps for starving Palestinians in the form of food cans that are actually bombs. But that is not all…“
Citing the Quds News Network, a Palestinian news agency, the article by Slobodna Dalmacija reports:
“Israeli aircraft dropped cans filled with explosives over Gaza, targeting starving Palestinians as bait,” according to the Quds News Network. Local media sources have indicated that these cans were dispersed across Al Mawasi, a camp located in the southern part of Gaza. Israelis previously referred to this area as the ‘humanitarian zone’.”
Allegedly, two children, along with one man and one woman, lost their lives after opening the counterfeit cans.
A video circulating on the platform X highlights the peculiar features of the cans purportedly sent by Israel, including eavesdropping devices embedded within. Observers have remarked on the unusual color scheme of these cans – black and grey – which is atypical for food containers.
In the video, an off-camera voice warns, “In case someone opens the can the wrong way, it will immediately explode, potentially causing amputation or death to the individual attempting to open it.”
The article featured a video showing a man holding what appears to be one of these “cans,” speaking in Arabic. At a certain moment, approximately 10 “cans” are visible on the ground.
The rest of the article details the difficult situation in Gaza, where people are dying every day and where the majority of the population is suffering from hunger. Concrete examples of civilian casualties are also cited.
What are the facts?
Slobodna Dalmacija included a link to a report on the Al Bawab website, which, in turn, cited a post from the X account of the Palestinian news agency, Quds News Network. On January 23, the agency shared a video alongside a statement that, ‘according to local sources,’ Israeli aircraft had deployed ‘cans containing explosives as bait for starving, displaced Palestinians in Al Mawasi.’ The report further alleged that four individuals lost their lives due to these ‘fake cans.’ Additionally, Slobodna Dalmacija references another X post showcasing the video from January 22.
The video with similar claims was also shared outside Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian language area and was covered by The Observers. In an analysis published on January 30, 2024, this media outlet clarified that the “cans” depicted in the footage are lighters used to detonate mines. Citing experts, The Observers explained that such packaging is a standard practice.
“However, these cans aren’t explosives disguised as food. They actually hold fuses to set off mines – and, if you talk to a munitions or explosives expert, they’ll tell you this is just how they are packaged.
“These metal cans provide protection and storage for the M603, a mechanical, pressure-type fuse which detonates anti-vehicle landmines,” says Hadj Boudani, a former soldier who now works as a consultant in the EOD (“Explosive Ordnance Disposal”) field – essentially getting rid of landmines.
The same point was made by a Twitter account specialising in weapons, Calibre Obscura.“
The metal cans featured in the video are, in fact, containers for detonators used to activate mines, rather than bombs disguised as food cans, as previously alleged in the articles under scrutiny. A close-up view at the beginning of the video clearly shows one of these cans with the inscription ‘Fuze mine.’ However, there is no visible evidence to support the claim that these were intended to be mistaken for food.
Hadj Boudani also commented for The Observers regarding the allegations that opening the can will cause an explosion.
“So how dangerous are these fuses? Opening one won’t trigger an explosion, says Boudani. The cans are just an outer layer to protect the fuse.
“When you open the can, then you get the fuse,” Boudani says.
This page on a website dedicated to explosives, CAT-UXO, explains that the M603 fuse is generally used to ignite M15 anti-vehicle mines. Used alone, “the fuse is useless”, says Hadj Boudani, though he adds that “a fuse can still be dangerous if you play with it”, because it does have a small explosive charge used to activate the mine.
“But if you don’t make a brutal movement, then nothing will happen,” he says.“
Boudani further explained to The Observers that such lighters are commonly used and could potentially be utilized by both Israeli forces and the Palestinian militant group Hamas.
Claims about food can bombs were also covered by PolitiFact. Experts consulted by this platform also said that the M603 lighter is probably the one featured in the video. The analysis also states that activating this lighter requires a large amount of force.
“The M603 fuze alone requires at least 140 pounds to activate, according to Collective Awareness to Unexploded Ordnance, an explosive hazards database. When attached to a landmine, it could take as much as 750 pounds of force to trigger an explosion.
Because so much weight and pressure are required to ignite the fuze and detonate an explosive, it’s “highly unlikely anyone was harmed or killed by opening up the container that holds this fuze,” retired U.S. Army Lt. General Mark Schwartz told PolitiFact.
“All the fuzes also have a safety clip on them. I doubt that anyone was deliberately targeted with these fuzes,” said Schwartz, who is also a senior fellow at Rand Corp., a nonpartisan research organization.“
Farzin Nadimi, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, did not rule out the possibility that the fuze could be used for purposes outside of its original design, for example, to blow up buildings in urban war zones. Still, he said he was “a little skeptical” that opening the cans would cause deadly explosions.
After Hamas launched an attack on Israeli territory from the Gaza Strip on October 7, 2023, in which over 1,000 civilians and soldiers were killed, Israeli air and then ground attacks on Gaza began. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, more than 27,000 people were killed in Gaza in Israeli attacks. Israel, which controls the coasts and airspace above Gaza, cut off the supply of electricity, food and fuel.
According to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), only a minimal amount of humanitarian aid reaches Gaza, insufficient to satisfy even seven percent of the population’s needs. The agency reports that over 500,000 individuals in Gaza are experiencing catastrophic levels of hunger.
While it’s conceivable that residents of Gaza could mistakenly believe mine lighters found in cans to be food, the cans featured in the scrutinized video are recognized as standard containers for such lighters. There is no substantiated evidence to support the notion that they were designed as explosive traps disguised as food cans. Consequently, the assertion made by Slobodna Dalmacija, which suggests that the cans in the video are food bombs deliberately distributed to Palestinians by Israelis, is deemed to be fake news. The propagation of this claim by other outlets is also classified as the dissemination of fake news.