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The Gaza Platform: seeking justice for war crimes

The Israeli military offensive ‘Operation Protective Edge’ launched on 8 July 2014, killed and injured thousands of civilians.

This bloody seven-week escalation of the conflict wreaked further havoc, punishment and devastation on Gaza's already blockaded population, with Gaza’s children caught in the crossfire – 551 were killed.

One year on from Operation Protective Edge, we’ve launched a new digital mapping tool to help investigate human rights violations during the conflict.

The Gaza Platform aims to uncover the truth about the attacks and serve as evidence of war crimes.

Using forensic architecture, satellite imagery, broadcast news and citizen-generated footage during the 50 days of the conflict, we’ve built a definitive picture of what happened minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day.

This digital database allows us to detect patterns in the Israeli forces’ conduct – a major step on the path to justice for victims of the violence.

What is forensic architecture?

Forensic architecture originally referred to the work of building surveyors – the careful analysis of the conditions of a building. Now the researchers at the Forensic Architecture project at Goldsmiths University have redefined the term.

With more conflicts taking place in urban areas, the violations of human rights and the laws of war often take place within cities.

Violence leaves scars on the environment, as well as the people, so architectural analysis is increasingly called upon as evidence in legal and political forums.

‘Buildings become evidence for a new form of violence. We are like architectural detectives.’

Eyal Weizman, Forensic Architecture Director

The Gaza Platform allows us to explore and analyse exactly what happened during Israel’s 2014 military operation in Gaza.

The repeated use of artillery – an imprecise explosive weapon – in densely-populated civilian areas should be investigated as a war crime.

Deadly warnings

In some cases, Israel issued evacuation warnings to residents of Gaza that they were about to bomb the area.

One such method was the ‘knock on the roof’ warning – firing a small warning missile onto the roof a building just before dropping a deadly bomb.

With only a minute between the so called warning and the real and far deadlier bomb, many people died just trying to evacuate their house.

Families in the firing line

The evidence suggests that the Israeli military had a deliberate policy of targeting family homes. They continued to target homes throughout the war, even after it became clear how many civilians were being killed.

One Sunday evening during the conflict, three missiles struck the apartment of the al-Hallaq family in a residential neighbourhood of Gaza.

One detonates in the family’s TV room where three of their children were watching cartoons – killing all of them.

Another hits the kitchen, killing three women who had been preparing a fast-breaking meal during Ramadan.

At least two of the missiles pierce through the floor into the home of the Anmar family below, killing their three children.

‘It was terrifying; we couldn’t save anyone ... All of the kids were burnt. I couldn’t tell which were mine and which were the neighbours’ ... It was impossible to recognise them or their features.’

Khalil Anmar, 45, father of four and a doctor with the Palestinian Medical Council

There is also a pattern of attacks on health workers and facilities. In some cases, the Israeli army repeatedly fired at clearly marked ambulances and paramedics wearing recognizable fluorescent vests.

The Rafah bombings

We have used forensic architecture approaches to analyse military operations in Rafah, the southernmost city in the Gaza Strip, and one of the sites that suffered most destruction during Operation Protective Edge.

Sparked by the capture of an Israeli officer, Lieutenant Hadar Goldin, by Hamas fighters on 1 August 2014, four days of conflict killed between 135 and 200 civilians in Rafah, according to reports, as Israeli forces bombed civilians in the city intensively, even after the Lieutenant was declared dead on 2 August.

Explore our detailed coverage of the Rafah bombings

What we’re calling for

We want to see an independent investigation by the International criminal Court (ICC) into the 2014 Gaza conflict to ensure justice for victims and their families on both sides of the conflict.

The Gaza Platform has helped shed light on the colossal scale of the attacks and highlights the desperate need for an independent, impartial investigation.

Explore the Gaza Platform