They just simply could not outrun the attack. Five cousins, including Mohamed, Zakaria, Ahed and Ismail, were playing on a Gaza city beach Wednesday, July 16. The boys ranging from ages nine to 11, were running and playing an ordinary game of football. Suddenly, something unthinkable happened. Israeli shell attacks began striking the beach, claiming the lives of four of the five boys in Gaza.
The Bakr family is devastated. One of the boy’s parents stated, “I wish I had died before hearing he was dead.” An international journalist in a nearby hotel witnessed the event and was able to catch it on camera. The video clearly captures the boys trying to run after the first-shell hits a small hut. The Second shell kills the children.
Stories like this are becoming eerily common as the war between Israel and Hamas continues to grow more violent. The Gaza strip is densely populated. There are more than 1.5 million people living in 146 square mile area. It is near impossible to launch any air strike without causing civilian casualties. As Israel continues with their ground invasion, more innocent are caught in the crossfire. About 40 percent of the people killed in the last ten days of the attacks have been children.
Parents of the boys urged them to play inside but the urge to kick a ball around in the sand was too strong. One journalist Ayman Mohyeldin of NBC news tweeted, “Minutes before they were killed by our hotel, I was kicking a ball with them.” Funerals were held shortly after during which many expressed concerned for the safety of children on both sides of the conflicts.
Since July 7, the UN reports that 77 percent of the people killed have been civilians. Among them more than 30 children. Human Rights organizations indicated about 7,500 people have lost their homes. More children find themselves attending daycare in bomb shelters. Like the four Gaza boys killed in Israeli attacks on Wednesday many people have nowhere to hide from the seemingly indiscriminate rockets and air strikes launching from both sides, claiming innocent lives.
Israel claims that attacks are targeted towards Hamas terrorist and actions are taken to mitigate civilian casualties. But the numbers don’t stack up that way. Hamas rockets often target heavy citizen populated areas in Israel. According to human rights organizations sirens sound to warn of incoming attacks but, this is little consolation when bombs are aimed at the homes. Human rights organizations claim that Israel launch air strikes without out regard for the high loss of innocent life versus low military gain. Often their targets are the homes of alleged Hamas members. Attacks like this are not legal unless the structure is being used as a military resource.
Despite the legality of the attacks, it is difficult to argue the upside when weighing civilian lives lost versus military gains. Far often more innocent die than the intended transgressors. On July 11, nine civilians died while watching the World Cup game near the city of Khan Yunis. Israel, targeting “a terrorist,” launched an attack on the Fun Time Beach Cafe. At least two teenagers were among those that died. On that same day in a separate air strike, an 8 and 9-year old sisters were badly injured in front of their home near the Bureij refugee camp. The bomb killed municipal workers who had just finished clearing rubble from roads caused by other air strikes. Human rights organizations found no evidence that these men were tied to any terrorist organizations.
Israel recently released a video aimed at convincing watchers that they stop air strikes that run the risk of hurting civilians. They also try to warn homes that are going to be hit. The warning is no consolation to the family of the four boys who lost their lives in Gaza due to Israeli attacks.
By Ashley Poag