Israel guilty of ‘indirect chemical warfare’, says Forensic Architecture and a Palestinian NGO linked to terrorism

Streaks of light are seen from Ashkelon as Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepts rockets launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, May 15, 2021. Photo: REUTERS/Amir Cohen

If Forensic Architecture had wanted to dispel the idea that its latest investigation of Israel was biased, it might not have used the Arabic term “Al-Nakba” (“catastrophe”) to refer to the founding of Israel in its latest report.

Instead, the British research group’s latest ‘investigation’ goes even further than previously published ones, displaying clear animosity towards the Jewish state.

At one point, the Forensic Architecture event alludes to the ancient anti-Semitic accusation of “poisoning the well”.

The survey, co-authored by Palestinian NGO Al-Haq as part of a new partnership between the two organizations, accuses Israel of waging “indirect” chemical warfare against the Gaza Strip:

On the evening of May 15, 2021 – the 73rd anniversary of al-Nakba and during the last Israeli military attack on Gaza – the Israeli occupying forces [sic] bombed the Khudair Pharmaceuticals and Agricultural Tools Company in Beit Lahiya, the largest warehouse of agricultural chemicals in Gaza.

Incendiary artillery shells ignited hundreds of tons of toxic pesticides, fertilizers, chemicals and other agricultural materials, initiating a toxic cloud that enveloped large parts of northern Gaza. The Israeli military did not provide a statement on the attack. […]

The bombardment by the Israeli occupation forces of the Khudair agrochemical warehouse, knowing the presence of toxic chemicals stored there, amounts to chemical weapons by indirect means. Such acts are clearly prohibited…and prosecutable under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

In the report, Forensic Architecture cites a “fluid dynamics expert” who says there is a “high risk of ‘irreversible damage’ to human health” due to the spread of hazardous chemicals from the warehouse – an accusation that evokes the centuries-old anti-Semitic “poisoning of the well” conspiracy.

The fact is that there is no evidence that the IDF deliberately targeted a chemical store. On the contrary, there is ample evidence to show that the strikes on Gaza were aimed at destroying the vast network of tunnels used by terrorists to store weapons and launch attacks.

Curiously, Forensic Architecture does not reveal the events leading up to Israel’s defensive actions in Gaza last year – Gaza’s terrorist leaders choosing to wage war by firing a salvo of rockets into Jerusalem on May 10.

As with Forensic Architecture’s last best-selling anti-Israel article, which examined alleged archaeological crimes the Jewish state is committing in Gaza, Hamas is not mentioned once in the entire report.

For an investigation purporting to uncover the “ongoing environmental catastrophe imposed on Palestinians living in Gaza,” there is complete disregard for the actual ecological crimes that have been perpetrated by Hamas and continue to wreak havoc on the environment.

In 2018, Gazans assembled thousands of tires that were later burned in violent protests near the Strip’s border with Israel. Indeed, the impact of the fires has been so damaging that Jerusalem has pleaded with the World Health Organization to intervene to prevent an “ecological disaster”.

“This is a serious environmental problem that will harm the health of residents and lead to unprecedented air pollution,” wrote Major General Yoav Mordechai, then head of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories ( COGAT), at WHO. Director-General Tedros Adhanom, adding: “I ask you, as the head of an international organization whose aim is to promote health and protect natural and environmental resources, to do everything in your power to publicly warning of this ecological disaster and protesting Hamas’ irresponsible behavior.

As HonestReporting previously detailed, the burning of a single car tire produces more than two gallons (7.6 liters) of toxic oil runoff, inevitably contaminating soil and groundwater.

It should also be noted that Forensic Architecture relies on evidence from “ammunition expert” Chris Cobb-Smith, who alleged that Israel used M150 artillery to create smoke screens to mask the movements of troops. He claimed that such artillery is “inherently inaccurate and unsuitable for use in urban settings”.

Yet Cobb-Smith’s testimony is called into question when one considers the fact that he has a history of spreading lies about Israel.

As the watchdog group NGO Monitor reported, Cobb-Smith in an interview with Amnesty International in 2009 “relyed on highly questionable evidence and questionable interpretation of international law to falsely claim that Israel had illegally used white phosphorus in Gaza in 2009”.

Meanwhile, Forensic Architecture’s partnership with Al-Haq is telling, given that the latter is one of six Palestinian NGOs that were banned last year by the Israeli government over their ties to the Popular Front. for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a terrorist organization.

For those unfamiliar with Al-Haq, which claims to document alleged human rights abuses, here’s a look at some of the less savory aspects of the Palestinian group:

  • Its director since 2006, Shawan Jabarin, has been a senior PFLP official in the past and has maintained close ties with PFLP operatives. He was tried and convicted for his role in the PFLP and served several prison terms. In 2007, a judge described Jabarin as a “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Some of his time is spent running a human rights organization, and some as an agent of an organization that has no qualms about murder and attempted murder, which have nothing to do with rights, on the contrary, they reject the most fundamental right of all, without which there is no has no other rights, i.e. the right to life.
  • Former director of Al-Haq’s skills and training department, Ziyad Muhammad Shehadeh Hmeidan, who held the position until 2017, has been arrested several times for his affiliation with PFLP “terror operations”.
  • Employee Zahi Abdul Hadi Muhammad Jaradat, who was involved in fundraising for Al-Haq, was also arrested for links to the PFLP.
  • Majed Omar Daud Abbadi, who worked at Al-Haq until 2016 as project and planning director, has been involved with the PFLP for several years.

Sadly, this isn’t the first time Forensic Architecture has made completely baseless accusations against the Jewish state (see here, here, and here).

Yet by partnering with Al-Haq, which has ties to a terrorist group that has carried out countless attacks on innocent civilians, it seems Forensic Architecture’s concerted smear campaign will only intensify.

The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog that focuses on anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias – where a version of this article first appeared.

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