Al-Haq’s Legal Research and Advocacy Department has released a comprehensive legal report, “Khudair Warehouse: Israel’s Chemical Attack on the Gaza Strip”. This report builds on the inaugural investigation of the newly launched Al-Haq Forensic Architecture Investigative Unit. The investigation examines Israel’s targeted attack and destruction of the Khudair Warehouse by the Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF) during Israel’s widescale May 2021 military offensive on the Gaza Strip. The IOF attack on the chemical warehouse, created a chemical cloud that spread chemical waste over the people and environment of Gaza, poisoning the population, amounting to the indirect use of a chemical weapon, prohibited under international law.
On the 15 May 2021, on the fifth day of the May 2021 offensive against Gaza, the IOF attacked the Khudair Agrochemical Warehouse, located in the northern Gaza Strip, in the Beit Lahiya area. The Khudair warehouse was the largest warehouse for agricultural supplies within Gaza, housing over 50 percent of agricultural supplies within the Gaza Strip and making the warehouse particularly vital for farming within the Gaza Strip.
At around 5.46 pm, six artillery shells landed on the warehouse over the course of several minutes. The IOF did not attack with explosive shells, but instead used rounds that emitted heavy smoke, with the ammunition burning at an intense heat. Al-Haq’s Forensic Architecture Investigative Unit identified the munition used as the M150 Smoke HC 155mm ammunition developed by the Israeli weapons manufacturer, Elbit Systems. By 5.56 pm the plastic stored within the warehouse caught fire, starting the major chemical fire that, according to field documentation, would release fumes for 22 days. Following the attack, a chemical plume formed from the fire at the warehouse which soon spread over northern Gaza, moving southwest from the location of the warehouse, covering an area of around 5.7 kilometres.
Using information gathered by Al-Haq and Al-Mezan field researchers, as well as the in-depth analysis of the Forensic Architecture Investigative Unit’s investigation, this report explains how through the attack and destruction of the warehouse, the IOF acting with knowledge, creating a chemical weapon via the destruction of the agrochemical products. The report also highlights how the attack violated general principles of international humanitarian law and outlines how the attack constitutes a number of war crimes under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, as well as its contribution to the crime of apartheid against the Palestinian people both in Gaza and as a whole. The report also provides several recommendations to the international community, including the United Nations, to help bring Israel to account for its crimes against the Palestinian people. The attack on the Khudair warehouse, and other industrial targets of a similar nature, indicates a direct attempt to use the chemical contents of civilian objects against the Palestinian population of the Gaza Strip in the form of an indirect chemical weapon.
In light of this report and the investigation by the Forensic Architecture Investigative Unit, Al-Haq calls on:
- The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court and the UN Commission of Inquiry to take into particular account Israel’s indiscriminate targeting of civilian objects in the Gaza Strip and, in the case of the Khudair warehouse, launching an indirect chemical weapon attack against the Palestinian people, and to fully investigate these violations as war crimes under international criminal law;
- For the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court and the UN Commission of Inquiry to consider attacks on civilian property as amounting to war crimes, and evaluate their crucial contribution to inhumane acts of apartheid under the Rome Statute and where relevant, the Apartheid Convention and international human rights law;
- To that effect, for the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court and the UN Commission of Inquiry to include Israel’s targeting of commercial property into the ongoing investigations, highlighting the chemical attack caused and to request a factfinding mission to determine the intention of the IOF in targeting facilities such as the Khudair warehouse, be it malicious intent or reckless disregard;
- For Third States to recognize Israel’s unlawful destruction of Palestinian property, primarily in Gaza but also across the OPT, as a fundamental element that enables Israel to further its colonial project in Palestine, and to entrench its apartheid regime over the Palestinian people as a whole;
- For host States to Elbit Systems, including the United Kingdom, to act in compliance with their responsibilities under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and hold Elbit Systems accountable for human rights harms;
- Additionally, for Third States to stop supplying Israel with weaponry and munitions used to commit war crimes, crimes against humanity and enforce apartheid against the Palestinian people as a whole, particularly in the Gaza Strip but also across the OPT;
- For the United Nations to exhort Israel to respect Palestine and the Palestinian People’s human rights, including the inherent right to self-determination;
- For international civil society to further support the Palestinian people’s struggle against Israel’s apartheid regime and colonial settler project.
See our full report “Khudair Warehouse, Israel’s Chemical attack on the Gaza Strip” here
See Al-Haq’s Forensic Architecture Investigative Unit’s “The Shelling of Khudair Warehouse” video here - https://vimeo.com/714467066
See Forensic Architecture’s investigation “The Shelling of Khudair Warehouse: Chemical Warfare by indirect means” here - https://forensic-architecture.org/investigation/the-shelling-of-khudair-warehouse-chemical-warfare-by-indirect-means
 Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, Al-Haq, and PCHR, ‘Assault on Gaza in Numbers’, (2022) available at <http://mezan.org/en/uploads/files/16442214671081.pdf>
 Al-Haq’s Forensic Architecture Investigative Unit Script on file with Al-Haq; Affidavits on file with Al-Haq.