Four kids killed on Gaza beachPeter Beaumont in the Guardian and William Booth in the Washington Post.
Both reporters assumed initially that it was an Israeli strike. In fact, they assumed that the strike had come from the sea, but that no longer seems to be the case.
The Israeli military said it was looking into the incident but claimed that preliminary inquiries suggested that no naval gunfire, originally believed responsible, had occurred at the time of the incident.The building you see burning in the top left of the picture above is said to have been a military target. When you place military facilities among the civilian population, things like this are almost inevitable.
It's perhaps the best indication of how Israel's military operates that even the family doesn't seem to assume that the IDF - if in fact it was behind the shelling (a matter which it is now investigating) - did so on purpose.
As relatives gathered not far from the Al-Deira hotel to bury the four dead boys, barely 90 minutes after the attack on the beach, the boys' uncle, Abdel Kareem Baker, 41, told journalists: "It's a cold-blooded massacre," he said. "It's a shame they didn't identify them as kids with all of the advanced technology they claim they're using."Haaretz's Anshel Pfeffer interviewed Beaumont later in the day.
Beaumont, who has been in Gaza for the last nine days, said that during the time he has been at the hotel, that area of the harbor has been hit by the IDF "at least three times." Following the explosion, "on the retaining wall there were puffs of smoke and we saw four people running along it. They ran all along until they reached the beach and jumped down. They were turning and running towards us and through the smoke you can see they were children." The second explosion came about forty seconds after the first and around thirty meters away. According to Beaumont "there was no warning signal or sound of airplanes before the explosions."
The second explosion was right behind the group of three children and one young man who were running in the direction of the hotel. "You couldn't mistake them even through the smoke, it was obvious they were children. The oldest one who was thirteen looked to me as if he was eight. These were dinky raggedy fisherman kids wearing shorts."
It isn't clear at this stage whether the four were killed by the first or second explosion. "My impression was they were killed in the first explosion and that the second didn't kill anyone," says Beaumont. "Later when we visited Hamad (the boy with the shrapnel wound) at Shifa, he said that one was killed in the first explosion and three others in the second, but I'm not sure how much a traumatized boy can recollect clearly what happened there."
The initial reports coming from journalists on the scene attributed the explosions to gunfire from Israeli Navy boats that have been firing at targets on the coast in recent days. Beaumont who has covered many wars including Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan and Bosnia, says that after he and colleagues began getting a clearer picture, he reached the conclusion that it was most likely an air strike. "Usually when we hear the naval gunfire we hear after the explosion also the sound of the guns, from a few kilometers out to sea. After everything settled down, I realized we didn't hear any firing out to sea."
The IDF Spokesperson unit had difficulty coming up with an explanation for the explosions which killed the four children and wounded others and it took a few hours for them to begin to respond. Toward 8 P.M they began briefing reporters that the first explosion was most likely caused by an attack on a "legitimate" Hamas target and the second the result of misidentification of the fleeing children as Hamas fighters. The incident is still under investigation, said IDF Spokesperson Brigadier General Moti Almoz. He said on Channel One that "we understand there was a target which was hit after suspects were identified.Stay tuned and don't jump to conclusions. Some of you may recall another incident on a Gaza beach eight years ago. That one turned out to have been caused by a Hamas land mine. But you can be sure of one thing: Hamas will milk this for everything they can get out of it.