‘The obligation to take precautions to avoid the loss of civilian lives was completely neglected.’
Amnesty International says its new report provides “some of the most compelling evidence yet” that Israel committed war crimes during its attack on Gaza last summer.
‘Black Friday’: Carnage in Rafah during 2014 Israel/Gaza conflict states that findings indicate that Israeli forces acted in retaliatory manner, with disregard for civilian life, after Lieutenant Hadar Goldin was captured by Hamas fighters, and that the events demand urgent, independent investigation.
“The ferocity of the attack on Rafah shows the extreme measures Israeli forces were prepared to take to prevent the capture alive of one soldier—scores of Palestinian civilian lives were sacrificed for this single aim,” said Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International.
The report from the human rights organization and Forensic Architecture, a research team based at Goldsmiths, University of London, focuses on a three-day period, from August 1 until August 4, during what Israel called Operation Protective Edge.
Researchers reconstructed events using evidence including videos, photos, satellite images, news reports, and eyewitness accounts.
August 1 was the supposed start of a 72-hour ceasefire, but, as Amnesty’s executive summary states:
Massive and prolonged bombardment began without warning while masses of people were on the streets, and many of them, especially those in vehicles, became targets. That day later became known in Rafah as “Black Friday”.
Eyewitness accounts described horrifying scenes of chaos and panic as an inferno of fire from F-16 jets, drones, helicopters and artillery rained down on the streets, striking civilians on foot or in cars, as well as ambulances and other vehicles evacuating the wounded.
Places Goldin was thought to have been held were among those targeted, and the intense attacks, the report states, continued after Godlin was declared dead and was buried on 2 August.
“There is strong evidence that Israeli forces committed war crimes in their relentless and massive bombardment of residential areas of Rafah in order to foil the capture of Lieutenant Hadar Goldin, displaying a shocking disregard for civilian lives. They carried out a series of disproportionate or otherwise indiscriminate attacks, which they have completely failed to investigate independently,” stated Luther.
“After Lieutenant Hadar Goldin was captured, Israeli forces appear to have thrown out the rule book, employing a ‘gloves off’ policy with devastating consequences for civilians,” he continued. “The goal was to foil his capture at any cost. The obligation to take precautions to avoid the loss of civilian lives was completely neglected. Entire districts of Rafah, including heavily populated residential areas, were bombarded without distinction between civilians and military targets.”
But Israeli forces may have had no fear of repercussions for such attacks. Amnesty states: “Israeli army commanders and officers can operate in confidence that they are unlikely to be held accountable for violations of international law due to the pervasive climate of impunity that has existed for decades.”
Yet, Luther’s statement continues, “This report presents an urgent call for justice that must not be ignored.”
“The combined analysis of hundreds of photos and videos, as well as satellite imagery and testimony from eyewitnesses, provides compelling evidence of serious violations of international humanitarian law by Israeli forces which must be investigated,” he said.
To see more about the forensic analysis, watch the video below uploaded by Amnesty International: