A joint investigation by Amnesty International and Forensic Architecture found “strong evidence” that the Israeli army carried out war crimes in an attempt to kill an Israeli soldier captured in Gaza last summer and as revenge for his capture.
On 1 August 2014 — a day Palestinians have come to know as Black Friday — the Israeli army initiated its deadliest act of butchery during its 51-day war on Gaza, bombing men, women and children in an effort to kill one of its own soldiers in Rafah, Gaza’s southernmost city.
When the dust settled, anywhere between 135 to more than 200 Palestinian civilians were dead, including 75 children. With the morgues full to capacity, medical workers were forced to store the corpses of small children in vegetable refrigerators and ice cream coolers to accommodate the high volume of dead bodies, producing some of the most haunting images produced by the 51-day offensive.
Using eyewitness testimony, satellite images and multimedia documentation of the carnage, researchers at Forensic Architecture, based in Goldsmiths, University of London, reconstructed the Black Friday attacks. This allowed them to determine that the Israeli attacks were aimed at locations believed to be harboring the soldier Hadar Goldin, leading Amnesty to conclude that the Israelis were trying to kill Goldin with no regard for the harm inflicted on civilians.
“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 Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa program.
Based on statements made by Israeli officials and soldiers, Amnesty also concluded that the attacks were partly motivated by vengeance for the capture.