-3

Although this is a bit of a military question, it becomes political.

When the Israeli Defense Forces releases evidence of Hamas weaponry discovered in Gaza, it's often shown arranged neatly in the middle of the floor, sometimes on blankets or rugs. For example see this recent video of weapons found in a child's bedroom.

While dramatic, it would seem more compelling to show the weapons where they're found, instead of handling and arranging the evidence. The way it's done seems to invite speculation that the finds are less authentic than claimed, something the IDF surely doesn't desire.

So why do they do that?

2
  • Those kind of "unauthentic" claims can leads to conspiracies. For example, who said that those weapons being pictures is in Gaza and not in Israel, but used to frame Hamas for IDF claims?
    – USerNAme
    Dec 3, 2023 at 11:15
  • 1
    A lot of times you can't fit it all on a table, so the floor is a big flat area that works well. From a photographer perspective, using a contrasting background makes it easier to identify the objects in the photo.
    – dandavis
    Dec 5, 2023 at 6:59

3 Answers 3

10

This is a standard way of displaying the result of a raid. It is not specific to Gaza, the IDF, war, guns, or 2023. It is done all over the world, by all sorts of agencies, for all sorts of items, in all sorts of contexts.

There is a difference between documenting for evidence and presenting to the public. One is a legal requirement, the other is PR and marketing.

Here is an example from the Austrian Interior Ministry:

Austrian police seize drugs and vast trove of weapons in a raid on a far-right biker gang

[Source: Austrian police seize drugs and vast trove of weapons in a raid on a far-right biker gang]

Toronto police (Canada):

Toronto police seize $18M in drugs, 65 guns in largest single-day recovery

[Source: Toronto police seize $18M in drugs, 65 guns in largest single-day recovery]

Essex (UK):

Essex drug raids: Dawn operation in Brentwood sees multiple arrests

[Source: Essex drug raids: Dawn operation in Brentwood sees multiple arrests]

Mönchengladbach police (Germany):

Polizei zerschlägt Drogendealer-Ring (Police busts drug dealer operation)

[Source: Polizei zerschlägt Drogendealer-Ring (Police busts drug dealer operation)]

Fontana police and DEA (USA): Video showing a large pile of drugs, neatly arranged.

4

I dunno if IDF has said anything about this carpet issue explicitly, but they are fighting a war, not conducting crime scene investigations. So expecting them to tag, bag, and photo every weapon where it's found is a bit unreasonable.

They actually tried to do something resembling that on one occasion, at al-Shifa, but soldiers are not crime scene investigators by training and there was then even a wee bit of controversy surrounding the placement of one extra gun in various footage taken at different times in one MRI room.

Yeah, if you read some US army manual on "Site Exploitation" (ATP 3-90.15), they suggest doing it more like a crime scene...

The photographer turns slightly, standing in place, while taking a photograph after each slight turn until the entire area or room is photographed.

But one has to wonder how often the US army did that in practice. (If you want to see something resembling this, there's e.g. a 2007 collection of 35 images by the US 1st Cavalry Division from a Mosul IED workshop --somewhat incorrectly labelled just a "weapons cache" in the source; I'm not pasting them here as there's too many photos.)

That manual also suggests though that when handling evidence:

The collected items are arranged at a collection point and photographed or videotaped together. [...] The chain of custody documents remain with the items at each transfer point.

The IDF perhaps has a manual equivalent to that, but I dunno where to look for it. Anyhow, the IDF relies more on conscripts whose training probably prioritizes essential combat skills more than these ancillary aspects, but probably some IDF intel units specialize in this too.

Australian army tarp with probably Taliban weapons cache:

enter image description here

An Australian soldier catalogues a portion of the enemy munitions recovered during an operation in the Uruzgan province of Afghanistan Nov. 14 [2010].

That's also done even by the Myanmar rebels (allegedly that's materiel captured from the army):

enter image description here

(There's also older video on reddit of them doing that after reportedly capturing an army base, with the cheesy "a few moments later" thrown in.--NSFW warning: this footage also shows dead bodies.)

Or an YPG presser showing material said to have been captured from ISIS etc.

1
  • I do wonder if there's any xkcd about US army manuals... Dec 3, 2023 at 8:58
3

From the question:

While dramatic, it would seem more compelling to show the weapons where they're found, instead of handling and arranging the evidence. The way it's done seems to invite speculation that the finds are less authentic than claimed, something the IDF surely doesn't desire.

Just addressing the authenticity claim: these weapons were found while the zone was in absolute control of the Israeli army. So, showing them at the place of discovery would be if little help for proving the authenticity of the finding; it would have been trivial for the Israeli army to play the weapons wherever they wanted them.

Please note that I am not claiming that the Israeli army statements are false, just that showing the weapons at the place of discovery would not make the claims any more (or less) believable.

And it would mean additional practical complications: access to the place for the press, extra work for securing the weapons...

Also, as other answers already explain, this way of shoming requisiotioned items is far from exceptional.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .