Smoke rises following Israeli air strike in Gaza August 19.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Watchdog group NGO Monitor criticized two London-based organizations on Tuesday over a new online tool they’ve built to map last summer’s IDF strikes on Gaza.
The Gaza Platform application by NGO Amnesty International and Forensic Architecture – a research project based at Goldsmiths, University of London – officially came out on Wednesday. It maps IDF attacks against Gaza from July until August of last year, using data that mostly comes from the Gaza-based Al Mezan rights group and the Palestinian Center For Human Rights.
According to NGO Monitor, however, essential information is missing from the platform.
“Location of enemy forces and military targets, nature of combat, and intelligence available to commanders at the time of the fighting – is entirely missing,” the watchdog organization wrote in a statement. “Without these details, the Platform’s ‘data’ are fatally flawed.”
In the same statement, NGO Monitor president Prof. Gerald Steinberg wrote that “Amnesty has a long history of exploiting human rights to single out and demonize Israel. Indeed, behind the colorful graphics and fancy maps lie the familiar baseless and distorted allegations from political advocacy NGOs Amnesty, Al Mezan, and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights.”
The watchdog group added that the head of Forensic Architecture is Eyal Weitzman, a former board member of Israeli NGO B’Tselem, who signed a petition during the 2009 Gaza conflict calling for the UN Security Council and the EU to impose sanctions on Israel.
NGO Monitor was also critical of the data the tool used, stating that “the platform simply parrots publications by Al Mezan and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, without independent verification.”
The interactive map does not show attacks that Hamas carried out against Israel last year.
In response to the NGO Monitor statement, Amnesty International said that the tool was not static and that it could and would be updated with new information over time.
Asked whether the organization planned to include Gaza’s attacks on Israel, Philip Luther, the director of Amnesty’s Middle Eastern and North African program, responded with a maybe.
Luther also told The Jerusalem Post that “we are not claiming that the Gaza Platform itself, on its own, gives you a conclusion in every case about whether a war crime was committed or not. It is not able to do that; we are not claiming to do that.”
He added that he hoped the Gaza Platform would be used by organizations such as the International Criminal Court.
“They will be helped by looking at this data set – not on its own, with other material, with very detailed case investigations and coming to conclusions on whether particular attacks are war crimes or should be investigated,” Luther said.