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IDF edited out key footage of deadly Gaza missile strike, researchers say

The Israeli military published drone footage of its air force bombing a seemingly empty building in Gaza. It left out the part where one of its missiles killed two teens sitting on the roof, independent investigators find.

Mourners carry the bodies of Palestinian teens Luai Kahil and Amir al-Nimra, during their funeral in Gaza City on July 15, 2018. (Wissam Nassar/Flash90)

Mourners carry the bodies of Palestinian teens Luai Kahil and Amir al-Nimra, during their funeral in Gaza City on July 15, 2018. (Wissam Nassar/Flash90)

The Israeli army edited out key footage of a missile strike that killed two Palestinian teenagers sitting on a Gaza rooftop earlier this year, according to an investigation by the UK-based Forensic Architecture institute and Israeli human rights group B’Tselem that was published this week.

In the late afternoon hours of June 14, 2018, two Palestinian teens, Luai Kahil and Amir al-Nimra, climbed to the rooftop of al-Katiba building in Gaza City. The selfie they took on the rooftop that day would be the last photo of the teens.

The Israeli air force launched four “warning missiles” toward the building, which it said was a Hamas training facility. The warning missiles, low-explosive missiles Israeli army calls “roof knocking,” are meant to warn civilians to leave the targeted building before larger bombs are dropped, according to the army.

Following the “warning missiles,” four larger missiles leveled the building. Kahil and al-Nimra, however, were killed by the first of the warning missiles. Twenty-three other Palestinians were wounded by the larger missiles.

On the day of the strike, the Israeli army released footage of the strikes on Twitter, which seemingly show four different “warning strikes” preceding the larger missiles. Based on the B’Tselem and Forensic Architecture investigation, however, it appears that the published video is not congruent with way the events actually unfolded.

Footage of the first strike, in which the boys were killed, was omitted from the montage released by the army. What the army portrayed as the first strike (the army public relations video does not specifically state that they are sequential) is in fact the third warning strike shown from a different camera and angle.

According to B’Tselem and Forensic Architecture, the omission of the footage of the first strike raises the question of whether Israeli military knew the two boys were sitting on the roof of the building when it launched the first missile, and whether it is trying to cover up that fact. (Disclosure: I participated in a previous investigation by Forensic Architecture.)

“Airstrikes in Gaza are marketed to the public by the Israeli military as surgical actions, designed to protect civilians, based on precision intelligence, accurate munitions, state-of-the-art surveillance, and close attention to international law,” Haggai El-Ad, the executive director of B’Tselem, said in a press statement.

“In reality, that is often nothing more than propaganda. The truth, instead, is devastating civilian casualties, surveillance that is incapable of distinguishing combatants from teenagers, inept intelligence, and the reduction of legal principles that are intended to protect civilians into a perfunctory checklist, which is later used to whitewash human rights violations, and to establish impunity,” he added.

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Forensic Architecture used an array of imagery in its investigation, including aerial footage released by the Israeli military, CCTV footage captured from nearby cameras, and videos published on social media at the time.

The investigators then synchronized and lined up the materials to reconstruct a simulation of the event. By synchronizing the two videos, one can see that the blasts from the third strike and what the army claims to be the first strike are identical.

“This investigation demonstrates how a deep reading of the imagery provided by the IDF, which was ostensibly intended to legitimise the ‘warning strikes’ on the al-Katibah building, can be unravelled to reveal a different story,” Nicholas Masterton, a researcher and project coordinator at Forensic Architecture, said in a press release.

“The wealth of images and videos in this case allowed us to conduct a rigorous independent investigation, and to challenge the Israeli military’s claims. We could not only show that Kahil and a-Nimrah were killed by a deadly missile, but also expose the underhanded way in which the Israeli military presented details of such strikes to the public,” he added.

An Israeli military spokesperson did not address specific questions about whether or why the video of the first missile strike was left out, mendaciously or not, of the footage released by the army.

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Instead, the spokesperson sent the following written statement:

“The IDF attacked a five-story building in the Gaza Strip used by Hamas brigades as a training facility for combat in urban areas. Following the strike, there were claims that it had caused the death of two teens. The incident was investigated, and based on the investigation, it was found that at the time the air strikes were issued, no people were identified on the building’s rooftop. The findings of the investigation are currently being reviewed by the Military Advocate General’s office. We emphasize that prior to the attack, various cautionary steps were taken to minimize civilian casualties as much as possible. A number of missiles with reduced ammunition were fired at the building’s roof, known as ‘roof knocking.’”

A version of this article first appeared in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

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    COMMENTS

    1. Lewis from Afula

      If Gazans don’t want to die, they must get their government to stop their war for Israel’s destruction.

      Except we all know that Gazans will never do that becauae they are brainwashed with antisemitic Jihadi hatred (plus other bigotry against Gays, Apostates and Minorities).

      Reply to Comment
      • Bruce Gould

        @Lewis: Chuck Freilich (former Israeli deputy national security adviser, also the author of Israeli National Security: A New Strategy for an Era of Change, Oxford University Press, 2018) points out in this article that the military threat to Israel from Hamas is essentially bupkes. But he does make an interesting comment –

        https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-conflict-with-hamas-is-hardly-the-main-threat-facing-israel-1.6432549

        “If 100,000 truly nonviolent Gazans (or East Jerusalemites, or West Bank residents), armed solely with flowers, were to storm the border fence between Gaza and Israel, or the West Bank separation fence or checkpoints, Israel would face a serious problem.”

        Reply to Comment
      • Baladi Akka 1948

        This genocidal piece of shit who for years has been expressing his hate for the indigenous people of this land, claiming they should “go back to Jordan” etc has the chutzpah to speak about Palestinians wanting the destruction of Israel.
        Zionism is a fucking mental disease ! Lewis The Fool is a great example.

        Reply to Comment
        • TalC

          The Palestinian narrative claiming they are the ancient indigenous people of Palestine doesn’t stand up to basic historic scrutiny.
          There are no records to support it. In art and literature there is no trace at all of any Muslim people referred to by anybody as “Palestinians.”
          Jewish claims to their heritage in the land of Israel are supported by abundant archaeological artifacts and historical records.

          Records show that it was 19th and 20th century Jewish settlement and the resulting employment opportunities that drew successive waves of Arab immigrants to Palestine. An area that was underpopulated with Muslims, Jews and Christians.
          Before the Six Day War in 1967, when Jordan controlled the West Bank and Egypt ruled in Gaza, there was never any suggestion on the part of the Arabs that they wanted independence in their ancestral homeland. The reason was that the “Palestinian” nation hadn’t been invented yet.
          Before the State of Israel was born, the term “Palestinians” was used by the Jews to refer to themselves and their organizations. “The Palestine Post”, the Palestine Foundation Fund, Palestine Airways, and the Palestine Symphony Orchestra were all Jewish enterprises.
          Today you can easily trace most Arab Palestinians back to their lands of origin by their last name, indicating tribal origin/region.

          And saying Zionism is “a fucking mental disease” suggests you don’t know what the word means or you think Israel’s existence is a disease, in which case you are the diseased one.

          Reply to Comment
          • Baladi Akka 1948

            You’re wasting your time here !

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Talc: Prior to 1948 the state of Israel had not been invented either. The battle for a just solution does not depend on a contest of ancient historical narratives. No +972 Magazine writer runs around saying Jews never existed in the Holy Land. You, like the Jewish jihadi from Afula above, are trying to insert a false controversy that does not even belong in these pages, and are denigrating and delegitimizing another people’s legitimate self-determination efforts, denying them basic rights. All of this is better suited for Arutz Sheva-style agitating. +972 Magazine is unswervingly about human rights, for all. That’s the bottom line. One gets the sense that you and the fellow from Afula came to play but took a wrong turn and ended up on the wrong playing field.

            Reply to Comment
    2. Roy

      So israel put warning to stop casualties, and you blame it for it?
      Maybe blame hamas for trying to murder civilians with missiles??
      Amazing Hypocrisy

      Reply to Comment
      • john

        ‘blamed’ the idf for lying, demonstrated with forensic evidence. idf killed many more civilians in gaza than hamas could dream of.

        Reply to Comment
    3. Name

      This example truly shows why trying to act more humane (using warning shot, who odoes that?) againt terror organization, is just a waste of time and resourses. The IDF should have just leveled the Hamas building. It is their fault they didn’t keep civilians out of their facilities

      Reply to Comment
      • john

        killing civilians is bad, right? hamas didn’t make the idf lie about how they killed civilians. (during ‘peace time’ no less)

        Reply to Comment
    4. Ben

      Mairav Zonszein מרב זונשיין
      https://twitter.com/MairavZ/status/1076638598399553536

      He
      sustained
      a
      gunshot
      wound
      to
      the
      neck
      from
      behind

      Defense for Children
      @DCIPalestine
      Israeli forces shot and killed Mohammad Jahjouh, 16, during a protest near the perimeter fence east of Gaza City on December 21 around 4 pm local time. He sustained a gunshot wound to the neck from behind and died shortly after at Shifa hospital. #GreatReturnMarch

      Reply to Comment
    5. Amir

      “Jewish claims to their heritage in the land of Israel are supported by abundant archaeological artifacts and historical records.”

      archaeological artifacts and historical records dated before 7th century. DO you have anything from 7th century onwards?

      “Records show that it was 19th and 20th century Jewish settlement and the resulting employment opportunities that drew successive waves of Arab immigrants to Palestine. An area that was underpopulated with Muslims, Jews and Christians.”
      which records? from the one who claim they made the desert bloom?
      Palestine had 300,000 inhabitants by the mid of 19th century, of which 85% were Muslims

      “Before the State of Israel was born, the term “Palestinians” was used by the Jews to refer to themselves and their organizations. “The Palestine Post”, the Palestine Foundation Fund, Palestine Airways, and the Palestine Symphony Orchestra were all Jewish enterprises.”
      Have you heard about the newspaper Falastin, founded in 1911 before the British Mandate? Palestinian Arab Congress in 1919, 1920, 1921, 1922??
      Have you heard about the Club Deportivo Palestino founded by Palestinian immigrants in Chile in 1920?

      Reply to Comment
      • john

        if anything, this ‘jews were the original palestinians’ trope convinces me that jews are fine being identified as palestinian.

        Reply to Comment