In this unprecedented report, Forensic Architecture deploys groundbreaking research techniques—merging images, video, and testimony provided by citizen and media sources with a detailed 3-D model of Rafah—to reconstruct the 1–4 August Israeli attack on that city. Using metadata, shadow matching, and the unique identities of smoke plumes resulting from explosions, researchers created what they dubbed the “Image Complex” to locate images and video in space and time and produce an animated record of events.
Applying this interactive chronicle of war operations, Amnesty International and Forensic Architecture analyze the legality of Israel’s attacks as it executed the Hannibal Directive. On 1 August, the same day that Israel and Hamas declared a three-day humanitarian ceasefire nearly one month into Israel’s 2014 offensive against Gaza, a Hamas unit captured an Israeli officer during a firefight in the city of Rafah. Israel responded by carrying out the Hannibal Directive, a procedure that allows the field commander to order fire in case of a soldier’s suspected capture, at the risk of harming or killing the soldier, rather than negotiating his release.
The report concludes that Israeli forces indiscriminately attacked the area, violating international humanitarian law, using excessive force in bombarding residential areas and killing over 135 civilians. Presented below is the report’s executive summary. The full report including videos and photo reconstructions is available at blackfriday.amnesty.org.