‘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.