Gaza: 4 Dead Boys on the Beach & Israel’s Precision War

By Juan Cole

NBC.com caught the Israeli shelling of children on the beach on film. Apparently some of the children had been playing soccer with the journalists before the barrages began! There was no warning (contrary to what Euronews suggested) and there were no military targets on the beach. There were just little boys who tried to run away and who appear to have been deliberated targeted for a second strike by an Israeli gunboat.

NBC journalists and editors appear to be angry about this incident, since, unusually for American television news, they dared be quite frank in their language about Israeli culpability. Veteran correspondent Richard Engels pointed out that despite Hamas’s largely ineffectual rockets, it is the Palestinians of Gaza who are bearing the brunt of Israeli bombardment, since they have no shelter and nowhere to go.

“It was broad daylight. There was no warning . It wasn’t the precision war Israel says it is fighting… Israel claimed that it was firing at Hamas militants at the port. But the dead were four young boys.” That is, NBC just called the Israeli military bald-faced liars, because there were no Hamas militants on that beach, just children playing.

What can we conclude from this sickening attack?

1. Israel actually has quite bad intelligence about Gaza. The Israeli navy thought it was bombarding militants when it was actually just shelling a civilian beach with little children running around on it.

2. Israel doesn’t know exactly what it is shelling. The Israelis clearly saw the four little boys running away, and deliberately fired another shell at them, killing them. The gunner surely thought he had Hamas in his sights. In fact, they were just little boys, deliberately targeted and killed as they were trying to get away.

3. Israel’s so-called warnings to Palestinians to leave are absurd, because the civilians have no place to go in tiny Gaza.

4. This is not a precision war on Israel’s part. The Israeli officers outside Gaza are just hitting any old target and then declaring it a Hamas depot.

5. Israel’s response to the incident, that it will conduct an investigation, is pure propaganda. The Israeli government almost never finds against itself. The passive aggressive phraseology is a dead giveaway.

The shelling of boys on a beach is symbolic of the aggressive paranoia of the Likud government.

Update: The Egyptian-American NBC correspondent who did the beach report, Ayman Mohyeldin, was pulled from Gaza by NBC, sparking protests within the organization and a leak of its politics to Glenn Greenwald.

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GRAPHIC: Israeli shelling kills 4 Palestinian children on Gaza beach

22 Responses

  1. Their intelligence is poor in both senses of the word. Shelling a beach overlooked by a hotel full of western journalists was not smart. The Guardian’s reporter helped bandage one boy’s wounds and his report is the front-page lead today. There’s also a blistering attack on Israel from Guardian columnist Seumas Milne. It was quoted with evident approval on BBC Radio’s review of today’s papers (the BBC has been getting a lot of stick for its feeble reporting from Israel/Gaza lately). link to theguardian.com

  2. 6. Even American journalists will, when directly confronted with Israeli crimes, report them honestly. Just a shame about all the others that they didn’t eye-witness.

  3. Why don’t you even consider the possibility that this is not a matter of lack of intelligence but a surplus of viciousness? Over the years of the Occupation there have been numerous incidents of Israeli troops deliberately shooting Palestinian boys. Isn’t it possible that this time they simply used a bigger gun? Furthermore, your weak critical standpoint leaves open the possibility that if the Israelis acquire better intelligence the dead will deserve it.

  4. Here’s how the IDF will play this…..
    1) BANG!!!!!!!
    2) Journalists: those kids were killed by an Israeli gunboat…
    3) IDF: Our bad. Preliminary reports suggest a case of misidentification by an IDF aircraft
    4) That “confession” starts a new narrative i.e. everyone accepts that the kids were killed by a bomb dropped from an IDF plane,
    whereupon….
    5) IDF: No! No, actually, there were no IDF planes flying over that beach! This is a BLOOD LIBEL! It wasn’t us! Those kiddies obviously blew themselves up! Pallywood! Pallywood! Pallywood!

    See how the trick works?

    A preliminary, tentative, “sorta-confession” by the IDF diverts attention away from the real cluster-f**k.

    Then once everyone’s attention is diverted the IDF recants that “sorta-confession”, thereby absolving itself of any culpability.

    Sorta’ like a cheap pea ‘n’ thimble trick, but using dead bodies instead of dried peas……

  5. It may not have been an accident.

    Many Israeli soldiers, some of whom are philosophically aligned with the settler movement, Gush Emunim, ideals, and imbued with rabbinical talk of Jewish superiority and squatter Palestinians on Jewish land will happily kill Palestinian children. And they do so with complete impunity, or if it happens to be newsworthy, are given a slap on the wrist, and we learn that it is “under investigation.”

    Witness the cold bloodied murder of two Palestinian youths shot through the heart while casually walking across the street and caught inadvertently on security cameras. I have not heard of any prosecution of the IDF soldiers who killed the boys.

  6. At this rate, Gaza will be all cleared out soon and ready for Israeli building.

    Killing children as they play? Disgusting and depressing.

  7. It reminds me an old line from Vietnam. When the indignant observer asks the helicopter gunner, HOW, oh how can you shoot women and children? The guy responds honestly that the trick is to adjust one’s aim and not lead the target quite as far as usual. Suspect that was the mindset of the guys pulling the trigger here: an afternoon at the shooting-gallery. Or mowing the lawn, in their own words.

  8. That is, NBC just called the Israeli military bald-faced liars, because there were no Hamas militants on that beach, just children playing.

    I guess better late than never. One interesting aspect of this is the abhorrence provoked by the killing of these boys. There were “only” four boys killed. What about the dozens of children killed before them in this latest assault? And what about the hundreds killed during Operation Cast Lead?

    As for Israeli “intelligence” that is one of the most overrated qualities attributed to the Israelis. A few have had the sense to warn Israel it is on the path to bringing about its own demise, but the mass of Israelis go along with their mad leaders. This could end like Nazi Germany’s end, but instead of the leaders committing suicide they might just make releasing their atomic bombs their a final act.

    • Here you’re getting at what may be the greater danger to the US in the region. Maybe we should be afraid of someone other than the Iranians, you know. Just saying…..

    • As Baby Jessica proved years ago, one baby dying in a well surrounded by TV cameras is worth one million babies dying in the ghetto.

  9. The Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 should have been given to the doctors and other medical staff in Iraq who coped with the carnage there. The Nobel Peace Prize in 2015 should be given to the doctors and other medical staff in Gaza now coping with the consequences of Israel’s vile, obscene and criminal barbarism.

  10. Worth watching Britain’s Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow confronting Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev. Regev must really hate appearing on Channel 4 – Snow always wipes the floor with him:
    link to channel4.com

    • He speaks true. The IDF doesn’t target civilians. It just classifies all Palestinians as combatants until proven otherwise.

      A lot like the Americans and their drone strikes.

  11. Nothing will change. I remember an incident quite some years ago in which a mother and father and their children were blown up as they sat on the Gaza beach. The only survivor was a daughter who was in the sea at the time. There have been many instances of entire families being killed, but the thought of that little girl seeing her family disintegrate before her eyes has stayed with me. But in every egregious case, the outrage lasts a few days, and the occupation and the killing continue.

    • Nothing will change.

      Make that in the short term. CNN has been running a series on the Sixties (1960s, that is) in which the civil rights struggles were featured. There were many blacks in the South who believed nothing would change, but they proved to be wrong even if the job isn’t complete.

      In those episodes there were scenes of brutal violence being inflicted on the blacks by the bigots. Those scenes were shocking, but they were minor compared with what the Israelis are inflicting on the Palestinians and have been inflicting on them for decades.

      One way to help make a change would be for some profile in courage to rise and emulate Joseph Welch at the McCarthy hearings in 1954 who said to that abysmal senator, “Senator, may we not drop this? We know he belonged to the Lawyer’s Guild… Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator; you’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”

      We would do well to start by posing that question to our politicians in the White House and Congress, ” At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”

  12. The removal of the on-the-scene NBC reporter from Gaza may be the story to watch more carefully here. The killing of the children was tragic, but only made a story by the happenstance of it being caught on film. Mohyeldin may have been replaced by Engles to put a Western face on the reporting, to make the bitter pill of Israel’s behavior easier for the various publics to swallow.

    Greenwald’s report raises the spectra of the long hand of Israel’s power, especially into the US media coverage, but I don’t see any direct evidence at this point. There is the apparent pattern of Mohyeldin’s reporting, which failed to follow the normal standards of current stenographic journalism, and he may have been pulled for that crime.

    • It looks like Mohyeldin in doubling down and may become persona non grata with the mainstream media for telling the turth.

      “‘Hamas… is putting their own people at risk’ — State Dep’t on Israel killing 4 boys on Gaza beach
      Philip Weiss ” – link to mondoweiss.net

  13. Given the quality of intelligence and weaponry possessed by IDF, I am inclined to speculate that this ugly incident was not a tragic mistake.
    As to the influence of Israel in having Mohyeldin removed from Gaza, I believe NBC makes their decision without any consultation with any Israel representative. NBC is a corporate news outlet that traffics in status quo conventional wisdom. They would be very reluctant to promote any information that reflects poorly on the US government’s main client state.

  14. The soldiers who recently killed Palestinian children have not been in the news in any meaningful way. I remember the news coverage of the woman who fired a gun at the ceiling to protect herself against an abusive husband. We got days of coverage of her in great detail.

    Which Israeli soldiers , exactly, shot in cold blood the two Palestinian teenagers wearing backpacks, walking single file near a building (this was caught on film)? What do we know about the Israeli people who burnt a young Palestinian man to death? Which Israeli soldiers shot to death the young children playing on the beach? People who murder children should be brought before the International Court of Law.

    Why aren’t news corporations brought to account for deciding not to cover these murders? If a suit against them was filed and reached the Supreme Court, what would the Supreme Court’s five Catholic men say?

  15. So the Palestinians are up to more evil—having their children run around on the beach, pretending to be militant terrorists.

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