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Al-Haq FAI Unit: They Are Shooting at Our Shadows Audio Tour

Home / Exhibitions & Events / Currently On View / Al-Haq FAI Unit: They Are Shooting at Our Shadows Audio Tour
Home / Exhibitions & Events / Currently On View / Al-Haq FAI Unit: They Are Shooting at Our Shadows Audio Tour

Duration: 24 minutes 46 seconds

Transcripts

They Are Shooting at Our Shadows

Curated by Al-Haq’s Forensic Architecture Investigative (FAI) Unit, “They Are Shooting at Our Shadows” delves into the multifaceted nature of of the systematic devastation of the civilian infrastructure and social fabric of Palestine, and its impacts on both the physical and psychological realms of those affected.

The title of the exhibition, taken from the words of a survivor of a deadly raid in Jenin, a city in the West Bank, evokes not only the legacies of colonial violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, but also the endless innovation and resistance of the Palestinian people. It also alludes to the nature of violence the Palestinians have been subjected to, as something at once materially destructive—now genocidal—and discursive, grounded in perception and representation. 

Yet the landscape of colonial erasure is being actively transformed by an influx of visual materials, open-source evidence, and technological innovation, all of which have revolutionized the terminology and methodologies being deployed by Palestinians in their ongoing pursuit of self-determination.

Al-Haq, established in 1979 as the first Palestinian human rights organization and one of the first of its kind in the Middle East, has consistently adapted its approaches in response to the evolving landscape of occupation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Since its inception in 2020, the FAI Unit has worked to carry on Al-Haq’s mission to protect and promote Palestinian rights and liberation while cultivating a new understanding of how this tradition of monitoring and documentation can function in Palestine—in a context where human rights defenders are themselves living under occupation and apartheid, regularly subject to both digital and physical violence from Israeli Occupying Forces. 

As a new generation of Palestinian forensic investigators, the FAI Unit pushes the limits of visual and spatial analysis methodologies pioneered by the Forensic Architecture research agency in London, interlacing them with Al-Haq’s established frameworks for community-centered ground truths.

They Are Shooting at Our Shadows was originally conceived with a central focus on the Israeli raids in Jenin. In the wake of Israel’s unfolding genocidal offensive on the Palestinian people in Gaza, the Al-Haq FAI Unit has adapted the exhibition space to serve also as a site of experimentation and in-progress documentation, revealing a catastrophic landscape for Palestinian human rights and anti-colonial resistance in the country. 

Together the exhibited works reveal the Palestinian Nakba—Arabic for “catastrophe,” referring to the destruction and forced depopulation of Palestinian towns and villages in 1948—not only as an isolated historical event, but as an ongoing strategy of elimination by the Israeli settler-colonial project.

Our obligation in the present context to update and reframe this show, is itself a testament to the necessary evolution of Al-Haq’s practices with the establishment of the FAI Unit, underscores the urgent need for flexible, responsive approaches to human rights documentation and grassroots advocacy. As Al-Haq and its FAI Unit face unprecedented limitations on our ability to monitor violations and existential threats to our very existence, the exhibition space becomes a critical site for connecting key patterns of violence across a historical and geographical continuum and exposing the vital, precarious state of Palestinian human rights defenders.

About Al-Haq

Al-Haq is a prominent and independent Palestinian non-governmental human rights organisation based in Ramallah, Palestine. Established in 1979 to protect and promote human rights and the rule of law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), the organisation has special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Councils.

 Al-Haq documents violations of the individual and collective rights of Palestinians in the OPT, irrespective of the identity of the perpetrator, and seeks to end such breaches by way of advocacy before national and international mechanisms and by holding the violators accountable.

To this end, Al-Haq conducts research, prepares field reports, studies, and interventions on breaches of international human rights and humanitarian law in the OPT, and undertakes legal and political advocacy before local, regional, and international bodies.

About the Forensic Architecture Investigative Unit

Since 2020, Al-Haq has worked closely with the London-based research agency Forensic Architecture to build the Forensic Architecture Investigative (FAI) Unit.

Housed within Al-Haq’s Monitoring and Documentation Department in Ramallah, and the first of its kind in the Middle East, the FAI Unit employs Forensic Architecture’s established methodologies and techniques for monitoring and documenting violations against Palestinians in pursuit of legal accountability and public advocacy.

Since its inception, the FAI Unit has worked to cultivate a new understanding of how human rights documentation can function in Palestine—in a context where rights defenders are themselves living under occupation and apartheid, regularly facing both Israeli digital and physical violence. In so doing, as Palestinian forensic investigators, the FAI Unit is also pushing forward the limits of Forensic Architecture’s techniques by interlacing Al-Haq’s established frameworks for community-centered ground truths with visual and spatial analyses.

The Attack on Jenin Camp: 3 July 2023

Methods developed in collaboration with Forensic Architecture, including 3D re-enactments and the crossmatching of measurements, were employed in the investigation into the destructive IOF attack on the Jenin refugee camp on July 3, 2023. These processes of analysis provide evidence which corroborates and extends the testimonies and affidavits also collected, techniques which have been the main pillar of Al-Haq’s documentation process for the last forty years.

Three main investigative threads, based on testimonies from survivors, are shown across three screens. Together, they reveal collective punishment as the singular military objective of the Israeli forces in its treatment of the camp and its population. The video analysis shows how the army breaches family homes, detains their residents, and inverts the layout of the homes to expropriate them as military bases. Palestinians are taken hostage, and their homes are repurposed by the Israeli army to dissect and control the neighborhood. This process of surrounding certain buildings or neighborhoods by repurposing civilian homes as military bases has become known as the “pressure cooker” technique. Used to instill terror in Palestinian civilians, this technique is employed by the army to extrajudicially kill Palestinians who resist. In the case of Jenin, on July 3rd, airstrikes on the camp and the raids took place simultaneously, the first of such attacks since 2002.

Abu Sariya Family Home, Hadaf Neighborhood, Jenin Refugee Camp

In the early hours of the July 3, 2023 offensive members of the Israeli military breached the main entrance of the Abu Sariya family home, located in the Hadaf neighborhood in the western part of Jenin refugee camp. Within minutes of the army breaching through the main door, the interior layout of the family’s living room was altered: military gunmen took ready-to-shoot positions after breaking through the house walls to construct apertures, then turned the room into a military compass, spraying directions in Hebrew on the walls, and flipping the sofas and covering the windows with bed sheets and rugs for protection. Women and children were forced into a separate room, and the men were tied up and put in the bathroom.

The Abu Sariya house was then used for two main purposes. First, it was the base from which IOF gunmen covered the western part of the camp. Second, eyewitness testimonies gathered in field visits conducted by Al-Haq and evidence found in the rooms after the raid reveal that the IOF utilized the ground floor of the house as an interrogation and detention center.

Multiple men of different ages from across the camp were blindfolded with their hands tied behind their backs and taken to the Abu Sariya family house for interrogation.

Bal’out Family Apartment, Northeastern Entrance, Jenin Refugee Camp

At around 2:00 a.m. on July 3, 2023, the IOF forcefully entered the Bal’out family’s apartment on the sixth floor of a building located at the northeastern entrance to the Jenin refugee camp. The father of the family and his two sons were bound, blindfolded, and secluded in one room, while the mother and daughter were escorted to a separate space in their apartment. Additionally, members of another family residing on the fifth floor were herded into the Bal’out family apartment.

For the next two days, the families were held hostage by the army, forced to live in their homes with the army as it repurposed their apartment as a military base for its operation in the camp.  Bal’out family members faced significant challenges accessing the bathroom and obtaining water. Similar to their incursion into the Abu Sariya family home, the IOF drastically altered the apartment’s setup: they damaged furniture, wrecked the bathrooms, overturned sofas, and made several modifications to the building’s structure, including creating numerous openings in the apartment’s exterior walls.

Opposite this building, another home was breached by the IOF. The aperture markings clearly indicate the positions taken by snipers during the raid.

Small puncture holes in the walls are mapped onto the digital model to simulate the snipers’ lines of sight throughout the neighborhood. The spatial configuration and distribution of these snipers’ positions clearly illustrates their strategic placement, targeting all roads entering or exiting the area. This effectively impedes any movement in or out of this section of the camp.

Sharea’ Al-Saha Street, Main Thoroughfare, Jenin Refugee Camp

Soon after 1:00 a.m. on July 3rd 2023, the Jenin camp was targeted with a major airstrike by the IOF–the first in two decades. This airstrike was conducted on Sharea’ Al-Saha Street that connects the entire camp, with the targeted residence, belonging to the Habash family, located near the camp’s social club and is also in close proximity to a UN clinic. The airstrike marked the beginning of a three-day operation which tragically resulted in the death of twelve Palestinians, including four children. 

Through analysis of the the footage of this incident, geolocation of the site, and testimony from Mujahed Mufeed Ahmad Abu Khoruj, a paramedic who survived the aerial bombardments while on duty, these airstrikes have been determined to be part of a strategy developed to treat the entirety of the camp space and its residents as a singular military target. Mufeed describes the intensity of the strikes as a relentless and sporadic targeting of the camp’s civilian infrastructure and residents.

Understanding Patterns

The three investigative boards included here trace the patterns found across testimonies, which have been collected and reconstructed through re-enactment to analyze the Israeli army’s hypermilitarized techniques. Attacks in Jenin, Tulkarem, Nablus and Jericho, documented here, reveal three connected tactics used by the IOF, including:

1. Expropriating Palestinian family homes for military use

2. The systematic isolation of neighborhoods through the “pressure cooker” technique

3. Engaging in indiscriminate attacks through airstrikes 

Together these emerging patterns reveal that the attack on July 3rd on the Jenin Refugee Camp was a pivotal point in the development and implementation of new hyper militarized strategies, now widely utilized as part of the IOF’s offensive against Palestinian towns, cities, and camps. 

Understanding Patterns: Homes Made Military Bases 

This spatial analysis shows how IOF soldiers operate inside Palestinian domestic dwellings and outlines how hyper militarized techniques are used to invert and violate the safety and sanctity of the home, as part of a larger strategy that treats the Palestinian population as a threat. The socio-cultural, infrastructural, physical and psychological ramifications for Palestinians of these incursions are devastating, putting their lives in significant risk.

The practice of raiding houses, and expropriating them for military use, has become a distinct pattern in recent attacks on Palestinian cities and refugee camps. Through years-long documentation of ongoing Israeli raids, visual evidence shows how soldiers alter the interior layout of homes upon breaking into them. 

The combination of flipped sofas and small punctures made in the walls of the house to serve as sniper holes allow soldiers to take cover while simultaneously having direct line of sight to target and shoot based on any movement outside. Family carpets are used to cover windows and conceal the movement of the soldiers inside the house, while Hebrew writings are spray painted on the interior walls of homes to act as a compass for tactical purposes. 

Families are effectively taken hostage by the IOF for the duration of the raid: men and women are separated, with the former blindfolded with their hands tied behind their backs, phones are confiscated, and all members are regularly threatened and told to stay silent.

Bal’out Family Apartment, Northeastern Entrance, Jenin Refugee Camp

At around 2:00 a.m. on July 3, 2023, the IOF forcefully entered the Bal’out family’s apartment on the sixth floor of a building located at the northeastern entrance to the Jenin refugee camp. The father of the family and his two sons were bound, blindfolded, and secluded in one room, while the mother and daughter were escorted to a separate space in their apartment. Additionally, members of another family residing on the fifth floor were herded into the Bal’out family apartment.

For the next two days, the families were held hostage by the army, forced to live in their homes with the army as it repurposed their apartment as a military base for its operation in the camp.  Bal’out family members faced significant challenges accessing the bathroom and obtaining water. Similar to their incursion into the Abu Sariya family home, the IOF drastically altered the apartment’s setup: they damaged furniture, wrecked the bathrooms, overturned sofas, and made several modifications to the building’s structure, including creating numerous openings in the apartment’s exterior walls.

Opposite this building, another home was breached by the IOF. The aperture markings clearly indicate the positions taken by snipers during the raid.Small puncture holes in the walls are mapped onto the digital model to simulate the snipers’ lines of sight throughout the neighborhood. The spatial configuration and distribution of these snipers’ positions clearly illustrates their strategic placement, targeting all roads entering or exiting the area. This effectively impedes any movement in or out of this section of the camp.

Sharea’ Al-Saha Street, Main Thoroughfare, Jenin Refugee Camp

Soon after 1:00 a.m. on July 3rd 2023, the Jenin camp was targeted with a major airstrike by the IOF–the first in two decades. This airstrike was conducted on Sharea’ Al-Saha Street that connects the entire camp, with the targeted residence, belonging to the Habash family, located near the camp’s social club and is also in close proximity to a UN clinic. The airstrike marked the beginning of a three-day operation which tragically resulted in the death of twelve Palestinians, including four children. 

Through analysis of the the footage of this incident, geolocation of the site, and testimony from Mujahed Mufeed Ahmad Abu Khoruj, a paramedic who survived the aerial bombardments while on duty, these airstrikes have been determined to be part of a strategy developed to treat the entirety of the camp space and its residents as a singular military target. Mufeed describes the intensity of the strikes as a relentless and sporadic targeting of the camp’s civilian infrastructure and residents.

Understanding Patterns: Indiscriminate Airstrikes

On July 3, 2023, at approximately 2:00 am, the IOF launched an aerial strike on the Habash family house, marking the first airstrike on the Jenin refugee camp since 2002. Following this initial attack, over the next two days a series of airstrikes were unleashed, targeting various areas within the camp. The visual evidence of an airstrike located in the northwestern part of the camp is outlined here, with footage showing the targeting of unarmed Palestinians within the camp. 

The ongoing monitoring of attacks on refugee camps and various Palestinian urban spaces has revealed a shift in the Israeli army’s tactics of colonial domination. Since the start of 2023, the IOF have been employing raids for targeted assassinations, utilizing shoulder-mounted anti-structure missiles through the “pressure cooker” technique. Notably, from July onward, a progression in the army’s strategy was observable, as they transitioned from shoulder-mounted missiles to drone strikes—a shift documented in several other Palestinian refugee camps. Most of these strikes have been directed at Palestinian public infrastructure and residential homes.

Understanding Patterns: “Pressure Cooker” Technique

When raiding Palestinian neighborhoods, the IOF implements a strategy of encirclement: fully surrounding the targeted area, deploying armored vehicles to block off streets, and positioning soldiers within Palestinian homes. In so doing, the IOF effectively prevents any movement into or out of these civilian areas.

As seen here, the strategy of enclosure begins at the level of individual residences. During targeted raids, the IOF attacks houses alleged by the Israeli occupying authorities to shelter resistance members by deploying the “pressure cooker” technique: tightly encircling the house with soldiers who then launch an assault on the enclosed structure from all sides. The attack often involves the use of handheld missiles, such as MATADOR or M72 LAW, resulting in the extrajudicial and willful killing of those inside the targeted house.

From these attacks on individual homes, the IOF then expands their tactics to encompass neighborhoods and larger areas, eventually even containing entire cities through these techniques. The duration varies, ranging from just a few hours in some cases to several days, as seen in the July 3rd attack in Jenin. Throughout these operations, any movement within the enclosed area is subject to targeting, placing the local population at significant risk.

Understanding Patterns: Indiscriminate Airstrikes

On July 3, 2023, at approximately 2:00 am, the IOF launched an aerial strike on the Habash family house, marking the first airstrike on the Jenin refugee camp since 2002. Following this initial attack, over the next two days a series of airstrikes were unleashed, targeting various areas within the camp. The visual evidence of an airstrike located in the northwestern part of the camp is outlined here, with footage showing the targeting of unarmed Palestinians within the camp. 

The ongoing monitoring of attacks on refugee camps and various Palestinian urban spaces has revealed a shift in the Israeli army’s tactics of colonial domination. Since the start of 2023, the IOF have been employing raids for targeted assassinations, utilizing shoulder-mounted anti-structure missiles through the “pressure cooker” technique. Notably, from July onward, a progression in the army’s strategy was observable, as they transitioned from shoulder-mounted missiles to drone strikes—a shift documented in several other Palestinian refugee camps. Most of these strikes have been directed at Palestinian public infrastructure and residential homes.

Understanding Patterns: Indiscriminate Airstrikes

On July 3, 2023, at approximately 2:00 am, the IOF launched an aerial strike on the Habash family house, marking the first airstrike on the Jenin refugee camp since 2002. Following this initial attack, over the next two days a series of airstrikes were unleashed, targeting various areas within the camp. The visual evidence of an airstrike located in the northwestern part of the camp is outlined here, with footage showing the targeting of unarmed Palestinians within the camp. 

The ongoing monitoring of attacks on refugee camps and various Palestinian urban spaces has revealed a shift in the Israeli army’s tactics of colonial domination. Since the start of 2023, the IOF have been employing raids for targeted assassinations, utilizing shoulder-mounted anti-structure missiles through the “pressure cooker” technique. Notably, from July onward, a progression in the army’s strategy was observable, as they transitioned from shoulder-mounted missiles to drone strikes—a shift documented in several other Palestinian refugee camps. Most of these strikes have been directed at Palestinian public infrastructure and residential homes.

Jenin Refugee Camp, 2002

In 2002, a pivotal attack was made on the Jenin Refugee Camp. While the attack was ongoing, a team of Al-Haq field researchers were on the ground with a VHS camera, documenting the devastation of infrastructure and the demolition of houses, and obtaining testimony of the attack on Jurat Al-Dahab, a neighborhood at the camp’s center. This map, created through geolocated materials, numerous site visits by researchers, and input from eyewitnesses of the 2002 attack, charts the events– and lived memories–of this formative and traumatic experience for the camp’s inhabitants.

The map also puts into relief the durative and historical context of the tactics of dispossession and oppression that continue into the present. On January 26, 2023, this same neighborhood experienced another assault, resulting in the tragic loss of ten Palestinian lives, including a grandmother shot inside her house and a child fatally run over by an IOF military armored vehicle. Far from a recent occurrence, raids in Palestinian cities and communities are part of an ongoing strategy marked by brutalization and hyper militarization, prioritizing destruction and control. The camp, a constant target of the Israeli occupying forces since its establishment, is a living embodiment of the shadow cast by the Nakba.

Jenin Refugee Camp, 2002

In 2002, a pivotal attack was made on the Jenin Refugee Camp. While the attack was ongoing, a team of Al-Haq field researchers were on the ground with a VHS camera, documenting the devastation of infrastructure and the demolition of houses, and obtaining testimony of the attack on Jurat Al-Dahab, a neighborhood at the camp’s center. This map, created through geolocated materials, numerous site visits by researchers, and input from eyewitnesses of the 2002 attack, charts the events– and lived memories–of this formative and traumatic experience for the camp’s inhabitants.

The map also puts into relief the durative and historical context of the tactics of dispossession and oppression that continue into the present. On January 26, 2023, this same neighborhood experienced another assault, resulting in the tragic loss of ten Palestinian lives, including a grandmother shot inside her house and a child fatally run over by an IOF military armored vehicle. Far from a recent occurrence, raids in Palestinian cities and communities are part of an ongoing strategy marked by brutalization and hyper militarization, prioritizing destruction and control. The camp, a constant target of the Israeli occupying forces since its establishment, is a living embodiment of the shadow cast by the Nakba.

Platform for Gaza

For the first time since its establishment in 1979, from October 2023 onwards, Al-Haq has had almost no direct access to the ground in Gaza. Field researchers were forcibly expelled from their homes along with their families and the rest of the population of northern Gaza. As the Israeli occupation has blocked access to Gaza, including the cutting of mobile networks and internet connection during its colossal assault on Palestinians in the strip, the FAI Unit at Al-Haq has employed OSINT tools and satellite analysis from a distance to harvest all available visual evidence. Work is ongoing to verify and geolocate incidents and to develop evidentiary records of the massive violations taking place.

This analysis reveals the systematic and egregious targeting of hospitals, with a focus on the IOF attacks against the Indonesian Hospital, the largest hospital in northern Gaza and a shelter for hundreds of Palestinians who were forcibly expelled from southern Beit Lahiya and the Jabaliya refugee camp. As seen here, a 3D model of the hospital has been built and employed as a narrative device, revealing a clear and repeated pattern of attacks that have also been used against other hospitals in Gaza. These tactics include first intimidation, then direct targeting, followed by a siege, and finally invasion and occupation by the Israeli military.

Evidence Lightbox

This evidence documented and produced by Al-Haq’s Forensic Architecture Investigative Unit and Al-Haq’s established field researchers across the occupied West Bank depicts the interweaving of the longstanding methodologies and infrastructures of investigation developed by Al-Haq with the new approaches undertaken by the FAI Unit.

Testimony-led narratives and eyewitness accounts are combined with counter-forensic methodologies to show how each violation is intricately situated within larger, complex webs of hypermilitarized surveillance and control strategies imposed on Palestinians. This spotlights the insidious slow violence perpetrated by the Israeli occupying authorities, shaping the very fabric of lives in Palestine. By observing the broader wide-scale patterns and the surgical events unfolding in space and time, a stark assessment must be made about the situation in Palestine today: the logic of elimination that historically and currently defines the relationship between colonizer and colonized is now–today–reaching its genocidal conclusion. 

In showcasing these stories, lived experiences of Israeli colonial violence, we endeavor to bring attention not only to the individual tragedies but also to the systematic and pervasive nature of the violence imposed on the Palestinian people, underscoring the urgent need for accountability and a critical stance on existing legal frameworks.

The Extrajudicial Killing of Shireen Abu Akleh, 11 May 2022

Following the targeted killing of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh on the morning of May 11, 2022, an investigation into the incident was undertaken in collaboration with Forensic Architecture. Two rounds of shootings were identified, significant moments of Shireen’s killing were analyzed, and a timeline was established based on exclusively obtained footage from Al Jazeera, as well as other materials. 

Shatha Hanaysha, one of the journalists present when the Israeli army targeted Shireen and the other journalists present on the scene, participated in an on-site testimonial and reenactment emphasizing the positions of each of the journalists at significant moments during the incident. With the precise position of the journalists at several significant moments mapped out, actors were positioned in their place, and through Shatha’s testimonies, the movement and location of the subjects in time and space, particularly during moments not shown in the available video footage, were determined, filling in key gaps in the incident.

Reenactment serves as more than a model-based methodology; it provides a space to incorporate the available testimony, which has been challenged by the occupation. The model functions to add dimensions and unseen layers of verification, definitively exposing the reality of Shireen Abu Akleh’s targeted killing.

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