Gaza crisis: Israeli Government spokesperson insists it does not target civilians – the day after four boys are killed by shelling

Mark Regev said the killing of four young cousins was a 'tragedy'

A spokesperson for the Israeli government has said its military "does not target civilians" in airstrikes the day after four children were killed whilst playing on a Gaza beach. 

The four boys, who have been named as Ismael Mohammed Bakr, nine, Zakaria Ahed Bakr and Ahed Atif Bakr, both 10, and Mohammed Ramiz Bakr, were killed on the beach beside a coastal road west of Gaza City on Wednesday. Witnesses say the children fled after a first shell hit a nearby container, but died when a second rocket hit them.

Mark Regev, a spokesperson for the Israeli government, appeared on Channel 4 News to discuss the conflict. When presenter Jon Snow asked how “killing children on a beach” contributed to Operation Protective Edge’s stated purpose of protecting Israeli civilians, he simply responded: “It doesn’t”.

"Let me be clear here, the story with these four boys is a tragedy - you can't look at those pictures and not be moved - but let's be clear, the Israeli military does not target civilians,” he said.

“It does not target children, and I don’t believe the person who, if it was an Israeli, who fired and killed those poor boys knew that they were children.”

Mr Regev rejected the accusation that the Israeli military is deliberately targeting neighbourhoods where “you know there are women and children”. He said: “Hamas is using these urban areas where civilians are living their lives to shoot at us… They are shooting at Israeli’s, bombarding our towns, trying to kill our people.

Video warning: Viewers may find this footage distressing

One witness said the boys were scavenging for scrap metal when the first shell hit a nearby shipping container used in the past by Hamas security forces. He said the boys fled but a second rocket “hit all of them”.

Waiter Hussam Abadallah said the strike occurred at about 4pm, when he saw “white smoke coming from a small room, like a shack, belonging to one of the fishermen not far from the fishing port.”

Young relatives of four boys, all from the Bakr family, killed during Israeli shelling, cry during their funeral in Gaza City, on July 16, 2014. Young relatives of four boys, all from the Bakr family, killed during Israeli shelling, cry during their funeral in Gaza City, on July 16, 2014. He said he then saw the boys running. “We started shouting at them, 'run, run here,' then a shell from the sea landed behind them,” Mr Abadallah told the Associated Press.

Mr Snow suggested that despite Israel's sophisticated weaponry, the boys' deaths demonstrate it "cannot forensically attack without killing women and children - ergo, you have factored in that you will kill women and children".

Mr Regev responded: “The truth is, this is Hamas’s decision for shooting at us from these urban areas – that is a war crime, and they should be condemned for it."

Read more: Four boys killed while playing football on beach
Israel and Hamas agree tentative five-hour truce

The Israeli army said in a statement it was “carefully investigating” the matter. It said the target of the naval attack was “Hamas terrorist operatives” and that civilian casualties were “a tragic outcome”.

It said the army “has no intention of harming civilians dragged by Hamas into the reality of urban combat”.

The boys' uncle Abdel Kareem Baker, 41 has described their deaths as “a cold-blooded massacre”.

Israel and Hamas have begun observing a five-hour humanitarian ceasefire was due to begin today, following nine days of cross-border fighting which officials say has killed over 220 Palestinians and an Israeli.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'