Short ceasefire after four children killed in Israeli attack

Ruadhán Mac Cormaic in Gaza City:Diplomatic efforts show no signs of a breakthrough

A video distributed by local Media 24 agency in Gaza, purports to show the moment in which four boys were killed by Israeli shelling. Warning: Graphic images. Video: Reuters

Ground-shaking explosions resounded across Gaza city last night amid fears of an escalation in the Israel-Hamas conflict after an Israeli missile attack killed four children on a Gaza city beach.

The UN asked both sides to halt hostilities for six hours today in order to allow humanitarian aid to the coastal enclave, but diplomatic efforts to broker a broader truce showed no signs of a breakthrough.

Hamas formally rejected an Egyptian ceasefire proposal and the Israeli defence minister asked prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s security cabinet to authorise the mobilisation of another 8,000 reserve troops.

Entire districts in the east of the densely populated city of 100,000 people were almost deserted for the day after Israel dropped leaflets urging people to leave their homes in advance of missiles attacks.



Seven people were killed in three strikes in Gaza last night, raising the toll in nine days of violence to 220, the large majority of them civilians, emergency services said. Militants in Gaza have fired hundreds of rockets into Israel, killing one, and rocket sirens sounded across southern Israel throughout the day.

"What are we supposed to do after all these people have died?" said Hassen Al-Batsh, who lost 17 members of his family when an Israeli fighter jet bombed their house. He told The Irish Times his house had "just crumbled" after a strike so ferocious it also claimed the lives of some of his neighbours in the Shujaiya district.

Eyewitnesses reported that the four boys who were killed when Israeli missiles struck near Gaza harbour were playing on the beach when they were hit. The boys – two aged 10 and the others 9 and 11 – belonged to the same family. A first blast sent a crowd of children running and screaming before a second explosion set a fishermen’s hut on fire and struck part of the group.

The Israeli military said it was investigating the incident. In response to previous civilian fatalities, Mr Netanyahu has said the Israeli armed forces tried to avoid civilian casualties but that militant rocket crews deliberately put non-combatants at risk by operating in densely populated residential areas.


Reacting to the incident, Hamas spokesman

Sami Abu Zuhri

told reporters in Gaza: “These crimes will not succeed in breaking our will. We will continue the confrontation and resistance and we promise [Israel] will pay the price for all these crimes.”

Gaza’s Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights said 259 houses had been demolished by Israeli air strikes and 1,034 damaged along with 34 mosques and four hospitals. As the injured continued to arrive at Shifa hospital, staff there reported that it was running short of drugs and medical equipment.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said it was providing consular assistance to a small number of individuals in Gaza with dual nationality.

Ruadhán Mac Cormaic

Ruadhán Mac Cormaic

Ruadhán Mac Cormaic is the Editor of The Irish Times