On May 24, 2022, CNN published an article alleging that “new evidence suggests that [Al-Jazeera journalist] Shireen Abu Akleh was killed in targeted attack by Israeli forces.” This inflammatory charge, which was vehemently denied by the IDF, relies heavily on claims made by Chris Cobb-Smith, who is presented by CNN as “an explosive weapons expert” and “a security consultant and British army veteran.”
As seen below, for two decades, Cobb-Smith has joined with the most politicized anti-Israel NGOs in pushing false or unsubstantiated accusations of Israeli violations of the laws of war. For instance, Cobb-Smith advised Human Rights Watch in 2002 regarding Jenin, when the NGO ran campaigns alleging that Israel “committed war crimes.” During the 2009 Gaza conflict, Cobb-Smith worked for Amnesty International in a similar role. In particular, he circulated false claims (“there was no tactical reason; there was no reasonable use of that weapon system”) as well as claims (later discredited) that the IDF used white phosphorous “in an illegal manner.” Similarly, he has been involved with the campaigns of the anti-Israel NGO known as Forensic Architecture.
Notably, Cobb-Smith also prepared a “Guide to Field Investigation” (2012) for Al-Haq – which Israel designated as a terrorist organization in October 2021 – meant to “benefit filed (sic) researchers who investigate human rights violations committed by Israeli occupying forces in the occupied Palestinian territory.”
Chris Cobb-Smith’s work with anti-Israel NGOs
Cobb has worked as an advisor on various projects with multiple NGOs that are blatantly prejudiced against Israel.
In 2009, Cobb-Smith was “part of Amnesty International’s team” alleging that Israel committed war crimes during the 2009 Gaza War.
In an interview posted by Amnesty regarding these alleged violations, Cobb-Smith relied on highly questionable evidence and a dubious interpretation of international law to falsely claim that Israel illegally used white phosphorus in Gaza 2009. This interview was part of Amnesty’s 2009 campaign calling for an arms embargo on Israel.
In 2010, Al-Haq invited Cobb-Smith to “train its filed [sic] researchers and the field researchers of other organizations on investigation techniques.” In 2012, based on these training workshops, Al-Haq commissioned Cobb-Smith to produce a “Guide to Field Investigation” (see above).
In this capacity, he was involved in joint Forensic Architecture-Amnesty accusations regarding white phosphorus in 2009, and “disproportionate, or otherwise indiscriminate” use of force on “Black Friday” in Rafah (2014 Gaza war). He also assisted the NGOs in creating the 2014 Gaza Platform, which completely ignored the presence of Hamas and other Palestinian terrorists in the conflict.
In 2018, also as part of a Forensic Architecture project, Cobb-Smith was commissioned by Israeli NGO B’Tselem to investigate an IDF strike in Gaza. Cobb-Smith’s conclusions ignored footage of Hamas terrorists using the building for military training.
In 2009, while working with Amnesty International, he visited the offices of Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR).1 (Amnesty reports on the 2009 conflict relied on PCHR’s casualty counts, without noting their problematic definition of a “non-combatant.” Consequently, PCHR and Amnesty classified multiple terrorists as civilians.)
He again met with PCHR in June 2015, and in 2018, participated in a workshop held by PCHR at the Institute for International Criminal Investigations on “the procedures of criminal investigation into international crimes.”
- The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) is linked to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) – a designated terrorist organization by the US, EU, Canada, and Israel. In February 2014, the PFLP organized a ceremony in Gaza honoring PCHR Director Raji Sourani for winning the “Alternative Noble [sic] Prize.” During the ceremony, Sourani stated that “I was in the ranks of the Popular Front…we are proud that once we were members of this organization and we fought in its ranks.” Rabah Muhana, a member of the PFLP Political Bureau, delivered a speech at the prize ceremony. For more information on PCHR’s PFLP ties, read NGO Monitor’s report “Palestinian Centre for Human Rights’ Ties to the PFLP Terror Group.”