JDAM Bomb Or HAMAS Rocket – What Was Behind The Attack On Gaza’s Al-Ahli Hospital That Killed Hundreds Of People

Various social media reports suggest a Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) aerial bomb could have been used in an alleged attack on Gaza’s al-Ahli Hospital. This allegation was categorically rejected by Israel.

On October 17, a bomb struck the hospital filled with injured individuals and other Palestinians seeking refuge, resulting in the reported deaths of hundreds. The Gaza Health Ministry initially blamed an Israeli airstrike for the hospital bombing, which became viral.

Yet, another set of social media reports refuted those claims with suggestions that the hospital bombing was due to a failed rocket fired by Islamic Jihad, another terror group operating inside the Gaza Strip.

Videos surfaced on social media, depicting flames engulfing the corridors of the al-Ahli hospital. A few videos also captured the moment a munition struck the hospital, igniting a giant fireball.

In one of the videos, labeled as the first clear footage from the al Ahli tragedy in Gaza, a distinct sound of a munition was audible, and the impact of the munition striking the hospital could be seen. 

Following an initial analysis of the footage, numerous experts, among them Mike Mihajlovic, a specialist in defense technologies and a former Canadian Armed Forces officer, noted that “Listening several times to the different noises, and comparing with the one that shows JADAM hit (next post) there is a pattern: background constant level noise and the high pitch sound of the bomb is characteristic.”

EurAsian Times could not independently verify any of these claims by social media users and military experts regarding what caused the massive explosion and a huge fireball in the al Ahli hospital that has left over 500 infirms dead.

Mihajlovic also considered another possibility, suggesting that a ballistic missile like LORA could have caused the strike. These missiles produce a similar high-pitched sound, although their warheads are smaller than JDAM bombs. 

In contrast, he added that Hamas rockets are considered less likely suspects in this incident. However, the former Canadian Armed Forces officer mentioned that it is essential to exercise caution and refrain from drawing definitive conclusions until more information becomes available.

On the other hand, Justin Bronk, a Senior Research Fellow for Airpower and Technology in the Military Sciences team at RUSI, expressed his opinion, suggesting that, in his view, this incident doesn’t appear to be consistent with a typical Israeli Air Force airstrike involving the standard IAF 1000lb or 2000lb JDAM/Mk80 series munitions. 

He noted that the incoming projectile seemed to be under power, and the visible explosion frames were primarily related to propellant ignition rather than a high explosive (HE) detonation. 

The Israeli military has regularly asserted that hospitals in Gaza are believed to house Hamas political and military leadership within its medical facilities.

Israel’s Stance On the Attack

Israel has denied the allegations, stating that it did not conduct an airstrike on the hospital. The IDF analyzed its operational systems, suggesting that Gaza-based terrorists had launched rockets. 

When it was struck, these rockets passed close to the Al Ahli hospital in Gaza. The IDF further stated that intelligence from multiple sources indicated that Islamic Jihad was responsible for the rocket launch that led to the hospital’s impact.

Furthermore, the IDF took to its Twitter account to directly dispute Al Jazeera’s claim that an Israeli aerial attack caused the hospital’s damage. The military pointed out that, according to the footage, at 18:59, a rocket intended for Israel misfired and exploded, coinciding with the reported time when the hospital in Gaza was hit. 

On October 18, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) released footage of the area surrounding the hospital, depicting the situation “before and after the failed rocket launch by the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization.” 

In the footage, the Israeli armed forces highlighted that the impact site showed no evidence of craters or substantial building damage. In contrast, the craters generated by munitions from the Israeli defense forces typically have a diameter ranging from approximately 7 to 19 meters. 

The Israeli military also released a recording of a conversation between Hamas operatives discussing the Islamic Jihad’s failed rocket launch on the hospital. 

Meanwhile, a clear image of the partially burnt-out parking lot at the Ahli Hospital in Gaza has also surfaced. The picture shows that overall damage to the structures in the complex seems to be relatively limited, and a clay-tiled awning adjacent to the parking lot remains mostly intact. 

In a retweet of the post, Bronk commented that there were no visible craters or shrapnel patterns consistent with standard IAF JDAM/Mk80 series bombs in the image. 

He mentioned that while not conclusive if this represents the full extent of the damage, it appears less likely to be an airstrike and more likely a result of a rocket failure leading to an explosion and fuel fire.

Nevertheless, in the context of the Gaza conflict, munitions are frequently stored in urban structures and tunnels, making it challenging for Israel to identify and strike accurately. 

As both Israel and Hamas continue to share their respective accounts, accusing each other of responsibility for the attack, it is anticipated that more information will emerge in the coming days.

Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM)

JDAM, or the Joint Direct Attack Munition, is a precision-guided air-to-surface weapon system that utilizes a payload consisting of either the 2,000-pound BLU-109/MK 84, the 1,000-pound BLU-110/MK 83, or the 500-pound BLU-111/MK 82 warhead. 

JDAM is compatible with various aircraft, including the B-1B, B-2A, B-52H, AV-8B, F-15E, F/A-18C/D/E/F, F-16C/D, and F-22. 

In addition to the previously mentioned aircraft, the Ukrainian Air Force has modified its Su-27 and MiG-29 aircraft to be capable of deploying Western-made Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs) in operations against Russian forces. 

JDAM enables the precise engagement of high-priority fixed and relocatable targets from fighter and bomber aircraft. Its guidance relies on a tail control system and a GPS-aided Inertial Navigation System (INS). 

The navigation system is initiated through transfer alignment, utilizing position and velocity vectors from the aircraft’s systems. Upon release from the plane, JDAM autonomously navigates towards the predetermined target coordinates. 

JDAM Smart Bomb Kits
JDAM Smart Bomb Kits

These coordinates can be preloaded into the aircraft before takeoff, manually adjusted by the aircrew before release, or automatically input via onboard aircraft sensors during target designation. In its most accurate operational mode, JDAM achieves a weapon circular error probable of 5 meters or less when GPS data is available.

While Israeli fighter aircraft have frequently conducted airstrikes in the Gaza Strip using precision-guided weapons like Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs), recent photos and videos shared by the Israeli military on social media seem to suggest the use of less accurate, unguided munitions as well.

For example, the Israeli Air Force shared images on social media platforms, notably on X (formerly known as Twitter), showing the loading of unguided bombs onto aircraft. In another photograph, a fighter jet can be observed already equipped with these unguided munitions.

These images lacked visible GPS-guided JDAM kits or laser-guided Paveway kits. Instead, they revealed the presence of M117 unguided bombs on F-16C fighter jets, leading experts to suggest that the Israeli Air Force may be utilizing older and less precise unguided munitions from their inventory.