On Sunday evening, as the sun slipped behind the Mediterranean Sea, members of the Bakr family, a sprawling clan of fishermen in Gaza City’s Beach refugee camp, gathered with hundreds of supporters on the beach next to the Gaza seaport.
Their assembly commemorated the lives of nine-year-old Ismail Muhammad Subhi Bakr, ten-year-old Ahed Atef Ahed Bakr, ten-year-old Zakariya Ahed Subhi Bakr and eleven-year-old Muhammad Ramez Ezzat Bakr.
All four were killed in Israeli strikes as they played football on the beach on 16 July. The first blast killed Ismail as he ran to retrieve a ball. Ahed, Zakariya and Muhammad died in the second explosion.
The Israeli munitions that ended their lives struck the beach directly behind a row of hotels which, in mid-July, housed many of the foreign reporters then present in Gaza.
Along with statements by members of their family and the painting of colorful murals at the site of the boys’ killings, the event also included a football match, intended to complete the one interrupted by the lethal blasts almost two months ago.
“It was never finished,” Bayan al-Zumaili of the Safadi Group, the youth organization that worked with the Bakr family to organize the event, told The Electronic Intifada. “So we decided to complete it with the survivors of the massacre.”
Al-Zumaili, a physician who graduated from the Islamic University of Gaza’s medical school two months ago, volunteered in the surgical department at al-Shifa hospital during Israel’s 51-day offensive against the Gaza Strip, which ended in an indefinite ceasefire on 26 August.
Witnessed by journalists
By 25 August, Israeli attacks had killed at least at least 2,168 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, including 521 children, according to Gaza’s al-Mezan Center for Human Rights.
The number of child fatalities has risen to at least 523 with the deaths of Ziyad al-Reefi, age nine, on 1 September, and Rahfat Abu Jame, age five, on Tuesday. Both died of injuries from Israeli attacks.
The killings of the Bakr boys in July drew broad attention not only because a single incident caused the deaths of four young relatives — a scenario repeated numerous times throughout the onslaught — but also because it took place so near to where so many journalists were staying.
Eyewitness accounts of the massacre by journalists like Sara Hussein of AFP, Peter Beaumont of The Guardian, Tyler Hicks of The New York Times, and William Booth of The Washington Post reached much larger audiences than first-hand reports of similar mass killings elsewhere. more