Israeli defence officials have confirmed that an Israeli raid on a Gaza cemetery killed five Palestinian children during its assault in early August, according to a new report, contradicting previous statements senior military officials made to local media.
Several defence sources told the Haaretz newspaper that an army inquiry into the August 7 attack concluded the five children – Jamil Najm al-Deen Naijm, aged 4; Jamil Ihab Najim, 13; Mohammad Nijm, 17; Hamed Nijm, 17; and Nazmi Abu Karsh, 15, were killed by an Israeli air attack on the Al-Faluja Cemetery next to the Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza.
In the aftermath of that attack, which came during a three-day Israeli assault on the besieged enclave from August 6 to August 8, several senior Israeli officers told Haaretz the deaths were likely caused by an off-course Islamic Jihad rocket.
The military did not publicly assign blame for the deaths and did not respond to an Al Jazeera request for comment on the latest report.
The silence was conspicuous after the Israeli military had separately quickly cast blame on Islamic Jihad after eight people, including children, were killed in the Jabalia refugee camp a day earlier.
The Israeli military said it had not conducted any hits at the time of that attack, and later released video footage appearing to show several rockets fired from Gaza, with one appearing to fall short in mid-flight.
Seventeen children were among the 49 Palestinians killed in the three-day assault, which Israel described as a “preemptive operation” following its arrest of an Islamic Jihad leader in the occupied West Bank a day earlier.
Speaking to Al Jazeera after the August 7 killings, Hamed Najim’s mother noted the attack came just hours before a ceasefire, which has since held, went into effect.
“Just two hours before the truce was announced, he told me he would go out for five minutes with his cousins,” she said. “Moments went by and then we heard a bombing. We ran out to find my son and his three cousins. They were all cut up into pieces.”
The Norwegian Refugee Council said that three of the boys killed in the attack had been undergoing trauma therapy before their deaths.
According to data compiled by Defense for Children International, at least 2,200 children have been killed by the Israeli military and Israeli settlers across the Occupied Palestinian Territories since 2000 – the beginning of the second Intifada.