Gaza: new digital mapping project reveals deadly pattern of Israeli attacks

Gaza Platform is tool for investigators and ‘most comprehensive record of attacks’ that currently exists
 
Launch event in east London (7.00-8.30pm)
 
A year on from the start of last year’s 50-day Gaza conflict, Amnesty has launched a new online digital resource which maps Israeli attacks to provide the “most comprehensive record” of the deadly onslaught yet produced. 
 
The project - known as the “Gaza Platform” - clearly illustrates an overwhelming pattern of targeting residential homes, with more than 1,200 Israeli attacks on houses resulting in more than 1,100 civilian deaths. Direct attacks on civilians not directly participating in hostilities and on civilian objects are prohibited under international humanitarian law. 
 
While a vast amount of multimedia information - including testimony, photos, videos and satellite imagery - is still being processed, the Gaza Platform currently shows that more than 270 Israeli attacks were carried out using artillery fire during the conflict, killing more than 320 civilians. The repeated use of artillery, an imprecise explosive weapon, in densely-populated civilian areas constitutes indiscriminate attacks that should be investigated as war crimes. 
 
The project, part of new collaboration between Amnesty International and the Forensic Architecture research project at Goldsmiths, University of London, is designed to help push for accountability for war crimes and other violations of international humanitarian law. 
 
Users of the Platform can also note other disturbing patterns, such as Israeli attacks on the emergency services, medical workers and their facilities, as well as the extensive use of “knock on the roof” warning attacks, where a missile fired from a drone is followed shortly afterwards by a larger bomb. Amnesty does not consider that this constitutes an effective warning, nor do they absolve Israel from the clear obligation not to direct attacks at civilians or civilian property. 
 
Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa Director Philip Luther said:
 
“The Gaza Platform is the most comprehensive record of attacks during the 2014 conflict to date. It allows us to piece together more than 2,500 individual attacks, illustrating the vast scale of destruction caused by Israel’s military operations in Gaza.
 
“By revealing patterns rather than just presenting a series of individual attacks, the Gaza Platform has the potential to expose the systematic nature of Israeli violations committed during the conflict. Our aim is for it to become an invaluable resource for human rights investigators pushing for accountability for violations committed during the conflict.” 
 
Eyal Weizman, Director of Forensic Architecture, said
 
“The launch of the Gaza Platform today, a year after the start of the conflict, is a significant step in the process of documenting the full scale of violations that took place in Gaza last year. It is also a call for individuals and other organisations to send more photographs, testimonies and other forms of evidence about attacks they have experienced or documented during the conflict.”
 
Francesco Sebregondi, Forensic Architecture Research Fellow and Gaza Platform Coordinator, said: 
 
“The Gaza Platform exploits the power of new digital tools to shed light on complex events such as the latest war in Gaza. It enables users to move across scales, from the granular details of each incident to the big picture of the overall conflict, by revealing connections between scattered events. We see this project as a first step towards more effective conflict monitoring efforts, supported by collaborative platforms that facilitate the sharing of data between witnesses on the ground, organisations, and citizens worldwide.”
 

Digital mapping tool

The Gaza Platform enables the user to explore and analyse data about Israel’s 2014 military operation in Gaza. It records the time and location of each attack on an interactive map and classifies it according to numerous criteria - including type of attack, site struck and number of casualties - to highlight patterns. Photos, videos, eyewitness testimony and satellite imagery for attacks are also included where available. With the help of new data visualisation and digital mapping technology, users can view and search this information to detect patterns in the Israeli forces’ conduct during the conflict. The aim is to identify and publicise patterns which can help in the analysis of whether particular attacks constitute violations of international humanitarian law, including war crimes. 
 

Partnership with Goldsmiths academics

A team of researchers in London and Gaza has been working over several months to collate and input onto the Platform data collected on the ground by the Gaza-based human rights organisations Al Mezan and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, as well as information gathered by Amnesty. Forensic Architecture is a research project and consultancy based at Goldsmiths, University of London, and the Platform is a pilot project of a new mapping and data visualisation tool - entitled PATTRN - to support research around armed conflicts and human rights violations. For the realisation of the Gaza Platform and the development of the PATTRN tool, Forensic Architecture has worked closely with TEKJA, a data analysis and visualisation company based in London. The Platform will be updated with new information as work to gather further evidence relating to the conflict continues.
 

London launch event

On the evening on 8 July, Amnesty UK will host a presentation of the Gaza Platform with a Q&A session from experts at its east London office. Speakers will include: Saleh Hijazi (Amnesty), Eyal Weizman (Forensic Architecture), and Mahmoud Abu Rahma (Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights in Gaza). For more information and booking, go here.
 
 

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