JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israel’s military said it was investigating the deaths of four Palestinian boys who were playing on a Gaza City beach when it was shelled.
Gaza officials said the shelling on Wednesday afternoon was an Israeli naval or aerial attack.
“Based on preliminary results, the target of this strike was Hamas terrorist operatives,” the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement. “The reported civilian causalities from this strike are a tragic outcome.”
The statement added, “We are carefully investigating the incident in question.”
The boys, aged 9 to 11, were brothers and cousins, according to reports; seven others were wounded in the attack. The family appears to be affiliated with the Fatah faction, rivals of Hamas, as photos of the funeral show the boys wrapped in Fatah flags.
The strike took place near a hotel frequented by journalists, many of whom provided first-person accounts in their publications and on social media.
More than 200 Palestinian Gazans have been killed in the eight days of Operation Protective Edge, the majority civilians, according to Palestinian reports.