On Wednesday, 14 July 2014, Israeli forces killed four children on a beach in Gaza. The boys’ fault was that they had decided, against the instructions of their elders, to go out to play—as children sometimes tend to do—in the midst of a relentless assault on a tiny, cage-like strip of land they call home. These children, journalists present at the scene reported, had been cooped up indoors for over a week. In this open-air Alcatraz, home to 1.8 million Palestinians, which should be the world’s shame but isn’t, the beach is perhaps the only place where children can breathe and run freely. Images and eye-witness reports from the crime scene tell us they did run—to escape the Israeli bombers, but their tiny legs couldn’t beat the determined assassins who missed the first time, killing only one child, and made sure they went for an outright kill-shot thirty seconds later. Four little corpses were all that remained after playtime. Who were these boys?
Why were the lives of Zakariya Ahed Subhi Bakr, 10, Ahed Atef Ahed Bakr, 9, Ismail Mohammad Subhi Bakr, 9, and Mohammad Ramez Ezzat Bakr, 11, brutally extinguished?
This question isn’t unanswerable. The boys were killed because Israel has been allowed—and that is the word—to maintain its murderous, illegal siege of Gaza for years. It is not the first time, nor—and this is a grim thing to say—will it be the last time that Israel, and more particularly Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Israel, has targeted Palestinian civilians, including children and women, in order to bolster its vice-like grip over Gaza. In the current offensive alone, it has already killed at least 185 children. “The death toll among children now stands at its highest point in five years,” said Rifat Kassis of Defence for Children International Palestine. According to the last UN assessment, of 789 Palestinians killed, 578 are civilians, a staggering 73 percent.