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Israel Made False Claims About Its Own Evidence in ICJ Defense, Analysis Finds

In one example, Israel claimed an image showed aid trucks entering Gaza when they were actually driving away.

Palestinian children stand amid the rubble of a building in the Maghazi camp for Palestinian refugees, which was severely damaged by Israeli bombardment, in the central Gaza Strip on February 27, 2024.

A damning analysis of the argument presented by Israel’s lawyers in its defense against South Africa’s genocide case finds that Israel’s legal team made false or misleading claims about evidence that it submitted to the court, undermining its arguments that its massacre in Gaza is justified.

This includes assertions, the lawyers argued, that Israel had good reason to carry out raids of hospitals across Gaza like Al-Shifa in Gaza City, for instance, and that it has allowed a sufficient amount of humanitarian aid into the region, when closer analysis by Forensic Architecture, a research group at Goldsmiths, University of London, finds in its report released this week that Israel’s lawyers misrepresented its evidence to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

In one instance, the group found that an image of a line of trucks carrying humanitarian aid that Israeli lawyers claimed were driving into Gaza was actually an image of trucks driving away from Gaza toward the Egypt-Israel border in order to be “checked” and likely dismissed by Israeli forces and protesters.

Using open-source satellite imagery, videos and 3D stills, the group found that, in all, Israel’s defense team incorrectly labeled, annotated or testified about nine pieces of visual evidence it submitted to the ICJ in its case last month in order to bolster their claims.

One photo presented by the Israeli legal team showed what they claimed was a rocket launch testing site for Palestinian forces next to a water desalination plant — but, according to Forensic Architecture, what Israeli lawyers labeled in the photo as the launch site actually aligns with craters left by the types of bombs that Israel has been dropping on Gaza.

Much of the evidence that the researchers analyzed and debunked were related to claims by Israeli officials that Hamas forces are using civilian facilities, like UN schools or residences, for military purposes — claims that Israeli and pro-Israel authorities have repeatedly asserted but failed to prove. These claims were then used by Israel’s lawyers to say that Israel’s attacks on these facilities were justified and not simply attacks on civilians.

Israel’s claims about tunnels under Al-Shifa, for instance, which have been cited heavily by Western media outlets and officials, were “misleading and unreliable,” with “no evidence” to back them up.

“Hospitals have not been bombed; rather, the IDF sends soldiers to search and dismantle military infrastructure, reducing damage and disruption,” Israel’s legal team said, showing a picture of what it claims to be a tunnel shaft used by Hamas forces. “Indeed, the tunnel that sat directly under the main building in Shifa Hospital was exploded without damaging the building above. The IDF then withdrew from the hospital.”

There is extensive evidence that Israel has bombed hospitals, and the Israeli army has even directly taken responsibility for similar attacks and has raided several hospitals across Gaza and the West Bank in recent months; Forensic Architecture found that Israeli forces have attacked Al-Shifa 11 times alone.

Further, Forensic Architecture does not find evidence backing Israel’s claims about the tunnels and their relationship to the hospitals, pointing to a large volume of media reports and Israeli sources making claims about the existence of the tunnels beneath the hospitals as being disproved.

In one image, Israeli lawyers labeled a building as a hospital, specifically Al-Quds Hospital in Gaza City, and circled a “terrorist” in the image next to the building. “In the slide before you, you will see a militant going into Quds Hospital with an RPG. Hamas fired at IDF forces from near, and from within, Quds Hospital,” Israel’s legal team said.

But Forensic Architecture found that the building in the image is actually a residential building a block away from the hospital. The group further found no evidence of Palestinian military operations inside Al-Quds, as a press release the image originated from claimed, and found evidence contradicting an Israeli military claim that a projectile launched from the hospital was, in fact, from in or around the hospital.

And yet, though this is supposedly Israel’s best defense to prove it’s not committing genocide, this evidence was used as justification for Israel’s brutal and horror-inducing attacks on the hospital in October and November. Israeli forces heavily bombarded the area surrounding the hospital and eventually rendered it inoperable due to a depletion of fuel caused by a blockade by Israeli forces.If its findings are true, the report is a show that Israel’s arguments defending against genocide claims are based on biased retellings of its assault of Gaza, which experts are sayingclearly constitutes genocide.

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