Rafah: Black Friday - Forensic Architecture
In this report, Forensic Architecture collaborates with Amnesty International to provide a detailed reconstruction of the events in Rafah, Gaza, from 1 August until 4 August 2014.
On 8 July 2014, Israel launched a military operation codenamed Operation Protective Edge, the third major offensive in Gaza since 2008. It announced that the operation was aimed at stopping rocket attacks from Gaza on Israeli civilians. A ground operation followed, launched on the night of 17-18 July. According to the Israeli army, one of the primary objectives of the ground operation was to destroy the tunnel system constructed by Palestinian armed groups, particularly those with shafts discovered near residential areas located in Israel near the border with the Gaza Strip.
The report examines the Israeli army’s response to the capture of Lieutenant Hadar Goldin and its implementation of the Hannibal Directive – a controversial command designed to deal with captures of soldiers by unleashing massive firepower on persons, vehicles and buildings in the vicinity of the attack, despite the risk to civilians and the captured soldier(s).
As the investigation team was denied access to Gaza, Forensic Architecture had to develop a series of techniques in order to recount the events remotely. The team collected hundreds of images and videos, either recorded from citizens or from media agencies. The footage was subsequently located in space and in time and embedded in a 3D model of Rafah. This resulted to the Image Complex, a device that allowed us to explore the spatial and temporal connections between the various photographs and videos and finally to reconstruct the development of the battle. Furthermore, Forensic Architecture located elements of witness testimonies within the timeline and model of Rafah, and corroborated the reported events with the audio-visual material. When the metadata of such material was inadequate, we used other time indicators such as observed shadows or the morphology of the smoke plumes to locate sources in space and time.