CAIRO: A confidential Israeli military police report has revealed how a drone strike killed four Palestinian boys playing on the beach in Gaza in 2014.
The report obtained by The Intercept explains how the actions of air force, naval, and intelligence officers led to killing four cousins — ages 10 and 11- after they were mistaken for being Hamas militants.
The killings took place during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge, a 50-day offensive against Gaza iwhich killed 1,391 civilians, including 526 children.
The attack in 2014 was carried out by an Israeli armed drone that chased the boys, the report said.
The secret document includes testimony from drone operators, intelligence officers and commanders who were involved in the attack.
A day before the attack, an Israeli surveillance drone had identified a small shipping container on a jetty and had destroyed it. Israel claimed the shipping container was used by Hamas naval commandos to store weapons.
The next day, a figure was spotted entering the container attacked the previous day.
The Israeli military then used a drone to attack it, killing the person who approached the jetty.
The report said that after the first boy was killed by a missile, the drone operators told investigators they had sought clarification from their superiors on how far along the beach they could pursue the fleeing survivors.
Though the report says they never got an answer, the operators sent a second strike, killing the other three children.
The IDF initially thought the mission was a “great success,” thinking that it had targeted four Hamas militants, one naval officer reportedly said during investigation.
But the attack happened in broad daylight, and was witnessed by international journalists staying in a hotel in the area that overlooks the beach.
It soon became clear that those targeted were four children, an incident that stirred massive global outrage.
The report obtained by The Intercept said the air force officer who coordinated the attack told investigators that they could not “tell they were children.”
The secret report reveals that the drone operators treated the jetty as a free-fire zone on the mistaken assumption that it was off-limits to anyone but militants.
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