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No, the Israeli army didn’t drop booby-trapped cans of food into Gaza

In World
January 30, 2024

In a video that has gone viral, a man in Gaza accuses the Israeli army of dropping booby-trapped cans of food into the besieged Palestinian enclave, claiming that the Israeli army left them behind to try and trick Gazans into trying to eat them. These cans do contain fuses used to set off mines, but the labels clearly state that they contain “fuses”. They will not, however, explode when they are opened, says an expert.

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  • In a video that has gone viral, a man in Gaza accuses the Israeli army of hiding explosives in cans he says were meant to contain “meat”.

  • However, the cans shown in the video are not explosives dressed up to look like cans of food. The labels clearly state that they contain “fuses”, used to ignite mines. We consulted a specialist, who confirmed this – and said that this is how fuses are normally packaged.

  • The specialist further told us that these cans will not explode when opened. 

The fact check, in detail 

As NGOs continue to warn about the imminent risk of famine in Gaza, a video has gone viral in which a man claims that the Israeli army has dropped booby-trapped cans of food into the besieged Palestinian enclave. The video first appeared online on January 22 and has gone viral in the following days.

The man in the video films about a dozen metal cans sitting on the ground. “These cans hold extremely dangerous detonators,” he says.

The man says that a team tasked with mine clearance in the Gazan city of Khan Younis discovered these cans in a school. He says the explosives were made to look like cans of meat – and also claims that the Israeli army left them behind. 

“When the can is opened, then it explodes immediately, which could cause loss of limbs or even kill children who might play with them,” he says, showing what each can contained. 

These posts on X claim that the Israeli Army drops these explosives disguised as cans of food in order to hurt Gazans, who are facing the threat of famine.
These posts on X claim that the Israeli Army drops these explosives disguised as cans of food in order to hurt Gazans, who are facing the threat of famine. © X

Since the video was posted online, a number of X accounts have claimed that the Israeli army dropped these supposed traps, which apparently “explode when you open them”.

“Israeli jets dropped explosives disguised as cans of food to lure in displaced people facing starvation in southern Gaza,” said the Times of Gaza in a X post published on January 24, which has since garnered more than 150,000 views. 

This was then picked up by the Quds News Network. Its post on X, which has since garnered more than two million views, claims that at least two children and a woman were killed by these “fake cans”.

A fuse – not an explosive in disguise 

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

In a longer version of the video, you can see that one of the cans has a clear label on it that reads “Fuze mine”.

The person filming these cans shows that they have a label that reads "Fuze mine" on it. © X
The person filming these cans shows that they have a label that reads “Fuze mine” on it. © X © X

No explosion upon opening 

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.

This is information about the M603 fuse provided by Hadj Boudani and available on the website Globalsecurity.org. © Globalsecurity.org
This is information about the M603 fuse provided by Hadj Boudani and available on the website Globalsecurity.org. © Globalsecurity.org © Globalsecurity.org

‘Threat of imminent famine’ in Gaza 

The FRANCE 24 Observers were unable to establish if these fuses belonged to the Israeli army or not. These types of fuses are widespread and could be used by Israel or the Palestinian militant group Hamas, Boudani says.

These fuses are clearly identifiable in the video. It seems unlikely, in light of their use, that these cans would have been dropped by Israeli forces to trick Gazans.  

The humanitarian situation in Gaza has been seriously deteriorating since Israel launched an offensive on the Palestinian enclave in response to the October 7 Hamas attacks. 

On January 23, the World Food Programme (WFP) warned that there was an “imminent threat of famine” for the territory. 

“The situation in Gaza is of course slipping every day into a much more catastrophic situation,” said Abeer Etefa, senior spokesperson at the World Food Programme, during a regular UN briefing in Geneva. 

“More than half a million people in Gaza are facing catastrophic food insecurity levels and the risk of famine increases each day as the conflict limits the delivery of life-saving aid to people in need,” Etefa says.

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