Israeli airstrike kills three boys in Gaza, ambulance access impeded

On Sunday 28 October, three Palestinian children were killed during an Israeli airstrike, suspected to have been from a drone in Gaza, northeast of Khan Younis.

The Ministry of Health identified the three boys as Khalid Bassam Abu Said, 13, Abdullah al-Hamid Abu Daher, 13, and Muhammad Ibrahim al-Satri, 13.

The Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) reported that its ambulances were prevented from reaching the boys for approximately two hours.

A spokesperson for Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary General, said: “The Secretary‑General deplores the deaths of three Palestinian children last night as a result of an Israeli air strike near Gaza. The targeting of children or exposing them to risks leading to violence is utterly unacceptable”.

Gaza-based Al Mezan Center for Human Rights strongly condemned “the Israeli military’s targeting of protected civilians, especially children, and is alarmed by the pattern of hindered access for medical teams. The children were prevented from receiving medical care for approximately two hours, during which time lifesaving treatment could have been provided.”

The three boys were from Wadi al-Salaqa, a farming village in central Gaza close to the perimeter fence. Residents said children from the village often go close to the perimeter fence to plant traps to catch birds, forage for food for livestock or tend to crops.

It's normal for them to go there, and that's why we did not expect them to be martyred," Salwa Abu Isied, Khaled's mother, told the New York Times.

In a statement, the Israeli military said the three boys had attempted to damage the perimeter fence and "were apparently involved in placing an improvised explosive device adjacent to it".

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Mohammed’s mother said, "How could Israeli soldiers kill innocent children in that way. Didn't they see them in their cameras? I call all Arab and international bodies to investigate the killing of our children."

Hundreds attended the boy’s funeral in Deir al-Balah City on Monday. Abdullah’s school friend told Al Jazeera: “Abdullah al-Hamid was in my class, even now that he is dead he will always be my friend. He was a good student and I will keep him in my heart.”

Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine Director at Human Rights Watch, said the killing of the boys appeared to be in violation of international humanitarian and human rights law: “Army or states can use lethal force only when there is an imminent threat to lives”.

The day before, Saturday 27 October, Israeli air strikes hit more than 80 locations in Gaza after it said rockets were fired from there into southern Israel. Health officials in Gaza said nine Palestinians were injured during an air strike and the Indonesian Hospital was badly damaged. No Israelis were reported injured.

Since the widespread civil society-organised “Great March of Return” demonstrations began in Gaza seven months ago, over 200 Palestinians have been killed and over 22,000 injured by Israeli forces. According to the MoH, 19% of those killed were children.

Last week, during the 31st Friday of the “Great March of Return” demonstrations, five Palestinians were reported killed and more than 232 injured after the use of live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas by Israeli forces targeting demonstrators alongside the eastern perimeter fence in Gaza.

The MoH identified those killed as Nassar Abu Tim, 19, Ahmad Said Abu Labda, 22, Ayesh Ghassan Shaat, 23, Mujahed Ziyad Aqel, 23, Muhammad Khalid Mahmoud Abed al-Nabi, 27. On Sunday, Yahya Bader al-Hasanat, 37, succumbed to the wounds he sustained at the demonstration, after being shot in the head by Israeli forces.

Among those reported injured on Friday were 35 children and four paramedics.

MAP reiterates its call to the UK Government and the international community:

  • Support and actively work toward credible, independent investigation into Israel’s use of force against Palestinians in Gaza, including healthcare workers, and ensure that suspected wrongdoers are held to account;
  • Support and actively work toward credible, independent investigation into Israel’s impeding of Palestinians’ timely access to healthcare, and to ensure that suspected wrongdoers are held to account;
  • Provide further and sustainable support to Gaza’s health system, which has inadequate resources to treat the wounded;
  • Make public statements which reiterate the applicability relevant international law with regards to the situation in Gaza and the humanitarian obligations of Israel as the occupying power and human rights duties of all parties; and
  • Demand an end to Israel’s 11-year unlawful closure and blockade of Gaza.