Bomb plant claim
The claim has spread across social media in recent weeks. Image by Facebook

Experts dismiss ‘exploding cans’ claim

Blair Simpson-Wise February 5, 2024

Bombs that look like cans of food and explode on opening were planted in a Palestinian school by Israeli soldiers.


False. The cans are containers for detonators and do not explode on opening.

It is being claimed that Israeli soldiers have planted bombs that look like cans of food and explode on opening in a school in Gaza.

The claim is false. Experts told AAP FactCheck the cans, which are marked “FUZE MINE”, contain fuzes used in land mines and that they do not explode on opening.

While the fuzes do contain a small explosive charge, they come fitted with a safety clip.  Experts said the safety clip would have to be removed and the device struck or thrown into a fire to detonate.

Numerous social media posts make the claim, including this January 23 Instagram video (archived here) featuring a man speaking in Arabic as he picks up the fuze containers.

A headline in the video reads: “IDF Plants Bombs as Food Cans for Starving Children”. 

Instagram post
 A video showing land mine detonators claims booby-trapped food cans have been left in a Gaza school. 

“Israeli soldiers plant detonators in Khan Yunis school that explode on opening,” the post’s caption reads. “They look like cans of food to starving children”.

Similar versions of the claim can be found here and here.

A reverse image search reveals the clip was shared by media organisation Al Jazeera Egypt with the caption (translated from Arabic) “A Palestinian warns of finding explosive devices in the form of canned food in Khan Yunis, south of #Gaza”. 

Al Jazeera attributed the original video to a Gaza-based journalist and digital creator, Muthanna Al-Najjar, who posted the video on Instagram on January 23.

The “IDF Plants Bombs as Food Cans …” headline was not on the original video.

Text on Al-Najjar’s post begins, in Arabic, with “A very important and dangerous notice. Please make contributions for the people in Gaza”.

It continues, in English: “The explosives engineering police in the Gaza Strip found iron cans in the form of a meat can topped with a key that were found inside schools entered by the Israeli occupation army, and the police noted that they were small mines containing a detonator, after examining them. It warned citizens not to tamper with it and report it immediately”.

At the start of the video, the words “FUZE MINE” are visible on a can held up to the camera.

An image of the can is in the 1995 Operator’s and Unit Maintenance Manual for Land Mines published by the US military’s Army Publishing Directorate. A copy of the manual is available online, with the image of the container found on page 35, section 2.

The manual states this container is used to hold a m603 fuze and is opened with a metal key attached to the underside.

 The Israel-Hamas war in Gaza has displaced more than half of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents. 

A fuze is used to detonate the charge in an explosive device such as a land mine or artillery shell.

The m603 fuze – the round silver device shown in the clip – is a steel pressure-type fuze used in mines that disable tanks and road vehicles.

It has a safety clip that prevents the pressure plate from being activated.

Mark Hiznay, a weapons expert at Human Rights Watch, said the fuze contains a small amount of explosives but would not explode upon its container being opened.

“Would these fuzes burn or detonate if the safety ring is removed or tampered with, subjected to an electrical charge, banged on a table, or thrown into a fire? Probably,” he told AAP Factcheck.

“But that requires an intentional act on the part of someone, like removing the safety clip and banging the item on a table.”

Hadj Boudani, a former soldier now working as an explosives disposal consultant, told France 24 the fuze on its own is “useless” and that opening the can would not cause an explosion.

Military experts also told fact-checkers at Logically Facts and Politifact that the fuzes would not explode on opening.

A major in the Norwegian armed forces told Logically Facts that between 70 and 120 kilograms of pressure would be required to ignite the fuze on its own. Around 250 kilograms would be needed when it is placed in a mine, the major added.

The actual location of the cans, and whether they were left by the Israeli military, has not been verified.

The Israel Defence Force (IDF) has been contacted for comment.

The Verdict

The claim bombs that look like cans of food and explode on opening were planted in a Palestinian school by Israeli soldiers is false.

The cans shown are the standard containers for detonators which are attached to land mines. However, experts confirmed that they do not explode on opening. They are also labelled as fuzes for mines.

AAP FactCheck was unable to confirm the location of the devices or whether they were left by the Israeli military.

False — The claim is inaccurate.

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