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A portrait of Amira Abu Naser, 14, who was killed in the alleged drone

Ben Emmerson, The UN Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights

Forensic Architecture in collaboration with SITU Research

Forensic Architecture Research Team:
Eyal Weizman (Principal Investigator); Susan Schuppli (Senior Research Fellow, Project Coordinator); Jacob Burns (Research Assistant); Steffen Kraemer (Researcher, Film Editor); Reiner Beelitz (Architectural Modelling); Francesco Sebregondi (Researcher); and Chris Cobb-Smith (Research Advisor)

SITU Research Team:
McKenna Cole; Akshay Mehra; Charles-Antoine Perrault; Bradley Samuels; and Xiaowei Wang

Amal Alamuddin, Philippa Webb, Annie O’Reilly, Jessica Dorsey, Sajid Suleman, Anna Bonini, Dawood Ahmed, Krista Nelson, Kristen Johnson and Matthew Oresman and all of their team at Patton Boggs, LLP, Peter Vedel Kessing, Michelle Lesh, Alon Margalit, Siavash Rahbari, Jessica Corsi, Lisa Hajjar, Eliav Lieblich, Mike Canada, Joshua Andresen, Ulrike Franke, Misa Zgonec-Rozej, John Jones QC, Todd Pierce and Colleen Rowley, Iain Morley, QC, Jasmine Zerinini, Pippa Woodrow, Ella Batchelor, Rehana Popal, Nathan Rasiah, James Edenborough, Sarika Arya, Alinda Vermeer, Bridget Prince, Chris Woods, Benedicte Diot, Johanna Hortolani, Blinne Ni Ghralaigh

Gaza Strip

The OHCHR has reported that in the run-up to, and during, Operation Pillar of Defence, from 14 to 21 November 2012, Israel used RPAs in Gaza, some of which reportedly caused civilian casualties.1 In a recent report on investigations into alleged humanitarian law violations during this operation, the Israel Defence Force (IDF) noted that the operation “was primarily based on precision airstrikes.”2 The report points out that such strikes “are relatively highly documented.” It acknowledges that “there is indeed a basis for the claim that as a result of IDF attacks, uninvolved civilians were killed or injured or civilian property was damaged, usually as unintended damage resulting from an attack against military targets, or alternatively from operational errors, where civilians were mistakenly identified as terrorist suspects.”3 Of the incidents investigated up to April 2013, the investigation found evidence of “professional flaws” in some cases, but did not consider that there was evidence warranting a criminal investigation.

Following the re-establishment of Israel's relations with the Human Rights Council, the Special Rapporteur attended a meeting with representatives of the State of Israel on 26 January 2014 in London. The meeting was convened at Israel's request in the context of the Special Rapporteur's inquiries into targeted killing through the use of drones in counter-terrorism operations. The Government was represented by Israel's Ambassador to the United Kingdom and the Deputy Attorney-General for International Affairs. During the course of an extended and informative exchange, the Special Rapporteur was briefed, among other matters, on the efforts made by Israel's air forces to avoid the infliction of civilian loss of life, and was shown video recordings of operational measures taken for this purpose. The Government stressed the efforts taken by its forces in all aerial operations to give advanced warnings of attacks whenever possible. However, the Government emphasised that a standard of zero anticipated civilian casualties goes beyond the international humanitarian law requirements of distinction, precaution and proportionality, and would remain unattainable whilst legitimate military targets, particularly in Gaza, used civilian institutions as a base for military operations. The Special Rapporteur requested certain additional information from the Government which had not been received at the time of writing.

1 See, for example, Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the implementation of Human Rights Council resolutios S-9/1 and S-12/1, 6 March 2013, A/HRC/22/35/Add.1
2 IDF, The Examination of Alleged Misconduct During Operation “Pillar of Defence” - An Update, 11 April 2013.
3 Ibid.