Gaza Strip – The Gaza Health Ministry announced the names and ages of four children who were killed by an Israeli air strike on Wednesday as they were playing on the beach when the area was hit directly by Israeli Defense Forces shells.
The Health Ministry said the four were children in the Bakr family. Ahed Bakr, 10, Zakaria Bakr, 10, Mohd Bakr, 11 and Ismail Bakir, 9, reportedly died from multiple shrapnel sounds and burns.
Witnesses to the IDF attack were dozens of journalists who were staying at hotels on the beach. Some of the journalists were according to eyewitnesses performing first aid on four other children who were injured after they ran from the first explosion but hit by a second strike.
A correspondent for the Guardian, Peter Beaumont said he was sitting on the deck of the hotel he was staying at when the children were struck by the attack. He was seen trying to give first aid to some of the children.
“The second shell catches the survivors as they reach the brightly coloured tents,” Beaumont said recalling the attack as it happened. “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.’”
Ahmed Jabril who works at the Beach Hotel also witnessed the attack. “We think they came from an Israeli navy gunboat, but we don’t know why they would shell that area. There was nothing there, no rocket launchers, no Hamas, just some kids on the beach,” he said.
Another journalist for NBC News reporting from Gaza, Ayman Mohyeldin said she had just been kicking a ball around with the children just minutes before the air strike that killed them.
William Booth a reporter with the Washington Post said it was a little after 4 o’clock in the afternoon when the boys were at a fisherman’s shack when they were fatally struck. While employees from the hotel were shouting to the boys to run where they were for safety, he said it was the second missile that killed them.
In a report from Reuters, Ahmed Abu Hassera, a 22-year-old witness said, “It looked as if the shells were chasing them.”
Rosaline Jordan, an Al Jazeera English reporter who also witnessed the attack said it looked to her as if the air strike was a “civilian target.” Jordan went on to say, “How is an Israeli air strike on what can only be described as a civilian target in full view of international journalists acceptable to the US government?” Other journalists who also witnessed the attack said “there wasn’t any rocket strike that they could see or detect or hear that might have come from Hamas.”
The Israel State Department held a press briefing after journalists posted photos and remarks on social media. Jen Psaki, a spokesperson for the State Department said, “I would remind you that yesterday there was a ceasefire proposed that was abided to by Israelis for a couple of hours that Hamas did not abide to. And they’re putting their own people at risk by continuing to escalate the situation on the ground,” she declared.
Since Israeli forces launched Operation Defensive Edge eight days ago, the Gaza’s health ministry has reported that more than 200 people have been killed in Gaza with 37 being under the age of 18.