Adalah demands investigations into killings of 7 children in two different incidents of suspected war crimes in Gaza

First incident was the killing of four children while they were playing football on the beach; second incident was the killing of three boys while they were on the roof feeding pigeons.

Last week, Adalah sent two letters to the Minister of Defense, the Military Advocate General, and the Attorney General demanding an immediate investigation into violations of international humanitarian law in two separate incidents in the Gaza Strip. The first event was the killing of four children from the Bakr family – Ahed (10), Zakariya (10), Ismail (10) and Mohammed (11) – and injuries of others by a missile fired by the Israeli Navy while the children were playing football on the fishermen’s beach in Gaza. This event was witnessed by and reported on extensively by the international media. The second event was the killing of three young boys from the Shuhaiber family – Wasim (7), Afnan (8) and Jihad (8) – from an air strike on their home while they were on the roof feeding pigeons.

In the letter about the killings of the four children on the beach, Adalah Attorney Nadeem Shehadeh wrote that, according to the testimony of a child who survived the incident, Nasser Bakr, on 16 July 2014 the Israeli navy fired three missiles against a group of children who were playing on the beach to escape the atmosphere of frequent bombardment in the residential areas. According to Bakr’s account:

“We were so bored from the war and wanted to go to the beach to play; we thought it would be fun. Ismail dared us to pretend to shoot him. And then he ran and hid in a shack. The first explosion occurred. We went towards Ismail and found his body on the ground. He was bleeding everywhere and he was burned. I cried loudly and we ran. I ran fastest and looked back. My friends were running. But a second explosion occurred. I looked back again and saw Zakariya, Ahed, Mohammed and Ramiz all lying on the ground and screaming. Muntaser, Mohammed Khamis and two guys I know from the Abu Watfa beach resort ran towards them to help. But then there was a third explosion and every one of them was then on the ground. I started crying for them.”

The next day, on 17 July 2014, the Israeli Air Force launched a missile at a group of children who were on the roof of their home in the Sabra neighborhood in Gaza City. According to the testimony of Sam Shuhaiber, the father of two of the children killed and uncle of the third, the children had gone to the roof to feed the pigeons. Shortly after they got to the roof, a massive explosion shook the entire building, and the three boys were killed.


Attorney Shehadeh wrote in the letter that these two attacks constitute grave violations of international humanitarian law, especially regarding the need to distinguish between civilians and military targets, and the obligation to protect civilians during the fighting. Attorney Shehadeh stressed that these events must be immediately and independently investigated as required by international law, and the perpetrators must be held to account for these serious suspected crimes.