This is how it goes:
I had just returned to the hotel to type up some notes and file inserts on the day’s news when there was a large explosion on the quay at the port, a little after 4 o’ clock in the afternoon.
We could smell the charge. I wondered: Did Hamas just fire a rocket? But it was the sound of an incoming round. We saw a small fisherman’s shack on the quay, churning with gray smoke.
Then we saw a gang of kids running from the shack, down the breakwater and onto the sand, hurtling toward al-Deira. A couple of waiters, the cook and a few journalists started waving at them. Run here! Then a second strike landed right behind them.
The staff were yelling, “They’re hurt!”
A half-dozen kids made it to the hotel. A young man also reached safety and fainted. He was bleeding from the abdomen. He was scooped up and carried to a taxi by a big, friendly bear of a bellman, room cleaner and night watchman named Mahmoud Abu Zbaidah.
Two young terrified kids were bleeding and injured, and they were quickly bandaged on the floor of the terrace, where guests usually eat skewers of grilled chicken, suck on water pipes and watch the sun go down. The kids suffered from shrapnel wounds, one to the head, one to the chest. They were treated by translators, hotel staff and journalists, who ran up to their rooms to grab medical kits.
On the quay, ambulances took away four more. They either died on the pier or at the hospital, I am not sure. The Gaza Health Ministry tweeted their names a few minutes later: Mohammed Baker, 9; Ahed Baker, 10; Zakaria Baker, 10; and Mohammed Baker, 11.
Meanwhile, Zack Beauchamp summarizes, for Vox, the account of Guardian and Observer correspondent Peter Beaumont, who was among the journalists trying to help the wounded. It is, as we might imagine, a grim tale.
There are plenty who would argue that at some point Israel’s right to defend itself ceases to apply. And setting aside the objections of those who would declare Israel definitive of Judaism, it is hard to see how such an event does anything useful of peace and security. For anyone. Among wars and rumors of wars, what happened today in the Gaza strip bodes only ill. There is no justification.
How long can a nation call a people out to fight, and then complain that it must defend itself? Then again, all these miles away, on the eastern rim of the Pacific, even that sort of question smacks with toxic irony. While it is often hard to tell what constitutes progress, much like art we know what it isn’t. This atrocity, for instance.
Booth, William. “Israeli strike kills four children on a Gaza beach”. The Washington Post. 16 July 2014.
Beauchamp, Zack. “A reporter in Gaza tweeted his attempts to save two Palestinian children’s lives”. Vox. 16 July 2014.
See also: @petersbeaumont