Rights groups accuse Israel of coverup in deaths of Gaza teens


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Human rights groups B’Tselem and Forensic Architecture have accused the IDF of “manipulating the truth” in its accounts of the deaths of two Palestinians teens killed in northern Gaza.

In a video posted to YouTube earlier this week, the two groups challenge the tactic of “roof knocking,” in which Israeli forces explode munitions on the top of a building to warn inhabitants that a missile or bomb strike is imminent. Focusing on a July airstrike in which the teens died, the groups allege that a video of the attack released by the military omits footage and that the teenagers were killed by a missile intended as the warning shot.

The rights groups allege that far from being a valuable tool for preventing civilian casualties, the practice of roof knocking is “unlawful and, for all intents and purposes, constitutes an attack. As such, the action must abide by the applicable rules set out in international law, including adhering to the principle of proportionality and the duty to provide effective warning. None of this was done in the case at hand.”

The IDF has defended the tactic as “imperfect” but necessary. In response, Forensic Architecture director Eyal Weizman told The New York Times that while “warning strikes are an essential part of the Israeli military’s claims to high ethical standards… such warnings are sometimes delivered with the same missiles that are used elsewhere to kill.”

The IDF denied the charges, telling the Times that “any allegations that the I.D.F. knowingly distorted or edited video footage are totally baseless and false.”

Last week B’Tselem released footage showing IDF troops shooting a mentally disabled Palestinian man in Tulkarem in the back of the head, allegedly showing that the IDF’s statement that its troops were responding to a violent incident were false.

Recommended from JTA