Four Palestinian children from the same family were killed today by an Israeli attack, a deadly, harrowing event witnessed by many Western journalists. Above is footage from NBC of a mother searching for her son, who was killed in the attack.
Initial reports were that the children were slain because of Israeli naval shelling, though Israeli journalists are reporting that it was an air strike.
The Agence France Presse reports their names and ages as: Ismail Mahmoud Bakir, 9, Ahed Atef Bakir, 10, Zakariya Ahed Bakir, 10, and Mohammad Ramiz Bakir, 11. The four kids from the Bakir family were playing soccer on a Gaza beach. The news outlet Media 24 posted this photo purportedly showing the before and after of the attack:
Haaretz’s Anshel Pfeffer tweeted out messages reporting what the Israeli military’s initial response to the attack is:
IDF sources now briefing in additon that 1st stirke was against identified #Hamas building. Children were misidenitified as fleeing fighters
— Anshel Pfeffer (@AnshelPfeffer) July 16, 2014
According to a first-hand account by The Guardian’s Peter Beaumont, Israeli warships first fired at a Gaza “harbor wall” near the Al Deira hotel. Then there was another blast, which killed four children, all of them cousins.
1st shell hit the harbour wall. It’s been hit before so I assume its on a prerecorded grid. Gunner appears to have adjusted to hit survivors — peter beaumont (@petersbeaumont) July 16, 2014
Beaumont’s post-attack report chronicles who was injured from the same shelling:
The retaining wall of Gaza‘s harbour sticks out into the Mediterranean about 100 metres from the terrace of al-Deira hotel, base to many of the journalists covering the conflict in Gaza. The first of the artillery shells came in a little after 4pm on Wednesday as I was writing on the hotel’s terrace.
There is a deafening explosion as it hits a structure on the pier, a place we have seen hit before, where fishermen usually store their nets. Behind the smoke, I see four figures running, silhouettes whose legs are pumping raggedly. They clear the smoke. From their size it is clear they are a man and three young boys.
Where the harbour wall ends and the beach starts, there are a few brightly coloured tents and chairs for beach users in more peaceful times. The four figures jump on to the beach and begin running towards us and the safety of the hotel…
The second shell catches the survivors as they reach the brightly coloured tents. As it explodes, my colleagues, now standing by the terrace wall, shout at unseen Israeli gunners who can’t hear them: “They are only children.”
And this video posted on Facebook shows journalists including Beaumont and others attending to the injured children at the Al-Deira hotel:
The Washington Post’s William Booth also witnessed the attack; read his report here. NBC’s Ayman Mohyeldin did as well. The Instagram photo below taken by NBC’s Ayman Mohyeldin, shows the mother of one of the victims.
The attack will likely be one of the most enduring memories of Israel’s assault on Gaza this year, just as the attack on the al-Dalou family in 2012 and the Samouni family in 2009 is still remembered today.
— Hugh Naylor (@HughNaylor) July 16, 2014
The four slain children are the latest minors to be killed by Israel during its assault on Gaza. At least 34 Palestinian children have been killed during “Operation Protective Edge.”
This post is being updated as more news on the attack comes in. The headline and text of the post has been changed to reflect reports that it was an airstrike that killed the Bakir children–not naval shells, as initial reports suggested.