Ramallah, July 17, 2014—Eight children in Gaza were killed on Wednesday, including four boys who died as they were playing on the beach in Gaza City when they were directly targeted by the Israeli navy. Israel's military offensive on the Gaza Strip has killed at least 45 children according to DCI-Palestine documentation.
Zakariya Ahed Subhi Baker, 10, Ahed Atef Ahed Baker, 9, Ismail Mohammad Subhi Baker, 9, and Mohammad Ramez Ezzat Baker, 11, were cousins from local families, and had been playing on Gaza City’s harbour when two missiles hit them just after 4 pm. Accounts and photos from the event have been widely shared, detailing an initial explosion near a shack that killed one of the boys, and a second that targeted the other boys as they ran toward the beach. DCI-Palestine sources confirmed that the boys were dead on arrival at Shifa Hospital.
“Israeli forces continue to target and kill children and civilians on a daily basis, making Israeli military statements claiming that these deaths are tragic mistakes simply meaningless,” said Rifat Kassis, executive director of DCI-Palestine. “The death toll among children now stands at its highest point in five years.”
In Khan Younis in southern Gaza, 9-year-old Ibrahim Ramadan Hasan Abu Daqqa was killed in a drone attack that targeted a taxi he was in with family members. Ibrahim was returning from a visit to his brother, in hospital as the result of a previous Israeli strike, and died along with his grandmother and older brother. Also in Khan Younis, 4-year-old Yasmeen Mahmoud Hussein al-Astal and her brother Osama, 8, died after sustaining wounds in an explosion caused by a nearby drone strike.
In Beit Lahiya, Hamzi Raed Mohammad Thari, 6, was killed as he prayed with his father. Two missiles targeted a nearby mosque, the second injuring them as they tried to flee. Hamzi succumbed to his wounds two hours later in hospital.
At least 45 children have died as a result of Israel’s nine-day bombardment of the Gaza Strip. The death of the four boys has prompted widespread international criticism at the extent of loss to civilian life, and particularly the death toll among children. According to information released by the UN, 77% of fatalities have been civilians. The incident also prompted a five-hour “humanitarian ceasefire”.
A statement released by the Israeli authorities said: "Based on preliminary results, the target of this strike was Hamas terrorist operatives. The reported civilian casualties from this strike are a tragic outcome.” The statement went on to blame Hamas for placing civilians in the line of fire. It also claimed that the children were mistaken for fleeing fighters, though witness accounts indicate that the children could be clearly identified from a distance.
The death toll - 45 and rising - is now at its highest since Israel’s December 2008 military incursion, Operation Cast Lead, which resulted in the deaths of 352 children.