A secret report by the Israeli military police—obtained by The Intercept‘s Robert Mackey—reveals that a week into Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in 2014, “air force, naval, and intelligence officers” mistook four 10- and 11-year-old boys who were playing on a beach in Gaza for Hamas militants and killed them by firing missiles from an armed drone.
While “hacked Israeli surveillance images provided to The Intercept by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden showed an Israeli drone armed with missiles in 2010,” Mackey notes, “the Israeli government maintains an official stance of secrecy around its use of drones to carry out airstrikes”—meaning this report provides perhaps “the most direct evidence to date that Israel has used armed drones to launch attacks in Gaza.”
The 2014 attack on the four boys, which occurred in the middle of the afternoon, provoked outrage the world over after it was documented by several international journalists staying in the area, who captured photographs of the dead children on the beach. It was initially suspected that Israel had launched the missiles from naval boats.
Report breaks down how this tragic even happened- How Israeli military w/high tech equip cld mistake these boys 4 Hamas is beyond me. #gaza Picture i took below- after 1st strike on the shack- shows boys running before the 2nd hit on them further up beachhttps://t.co/U7YR2ZY6BB https://t.co/53sqcd43pz
— Stefanie Dekker (@StefanieDekker) August 12, 2018
The four boys—Ismail Bakr, 10; Ahed Bakr, 10; Zakaria Bakr, 10; and Mohammed Bakr, 11—were cousins, the sons of Gazan fisherman. Their families, with support from the Israel-based Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights, or Adalah, are still fighting in court to hold accountable the members of the military directly involved with the airstrikes that killed the children.
Armed drones “alter the process of human decision-making,” and “[expand] the circle of people responsible for the actual killing of the Bakr children,” Suhad Bishara, one of the attorneys representing the families, told The Intercept. Israel’s use of the technology to kill Palestinians, Bishara added, raises “many questions concerning human judgment, ethics, and compliance with international humanitarian law.”
As Mackey outlines:
After images of the attack prompted widespread outrage,