dead children
© Middle East Eye
Gaza children killed August 7, 2022
The Israeli army has admitted to conducting the airstrike that killed five Palestinian children in the northern Gaza Strip earlier this month, after initially blaming their deaths on a misfire from a Palestinian Islamic Jihad rocket.

The airstrike occurred on August 7th, the last day of a three-day Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip, dubbed by the Israeli military as "Operation Breaking Dawn."

The strike targeted the al-Faluja cemetery in the town of Jabalia, and struck five children while they were visiting the grave of their grandfather. The youngest victim of the strike was just three-years-old.

Nathmi Karsh, 15, Hamed Nejm, 16, Mohammad Nejm, 16, Jamil Ihab Nejm, 13, and Jamil Najim al-Din Nejm, 3, were all killed in the strike. The Nejm boys were all cousins, and Nathmi Karsh was their close family friend and neighbor.

Immediately after the airstrike, senior military officials told Israeli media that the children were "most likely" killed by a PIJ misfire. The airstrike on the cemetery came just hours after a separate strike in the Jabalia refugee camp that killed eight Palestinians, including three children, which the army also blamed on PIJ.

Haaretz reported that in the case of the five boys killed in the cemetery, "despite their off-the-record assessments, senior IDF officers never commented publicly about who was responsible."

Following an army inquiry, Haaretz reported on Tuesday that "several defense sources" confirmed to the newspaper that it was in fact an Israeli airstrike that killed the five boys.

During Israel's three-day operation in Gaza, 49 Palestinians were killed including 17 children, according to Gaza's Ministry of Health.

Israel claimed the operation was "preemptive," and was carried out to target PIJ military sites across Gaza, with the purpose of crippling the group, which has the second largest militarized presence in Gaza following Hamas. Over the course of three days the army assassinated several high-ranking PIJ officials, including Tayseer al-Jabari, the head of the group's military wing.

'We collected their body parts with our hands'

Thirteen-year-old Jamil Ihab Nejm's father, Ihab, recounted to Mondoweiss the day that his son was killed.

Jamil was with his cousins and friend at their home when he left to go to the store. While he was out, Jamil and the four boys went to the nearby cemetery, where their late grandfather is buried.

"The cemetery is just 10 meters away from our home," Ihab said, adding that Jamil and his cousins frequently visited their grandfather's grave, as the cemetery was one of the only open spaces the boys had access to to play and spend time together outside.
"When the bomb fell, my wife screamed out loud before even knowing what had happened. I went immediately to the cemetery to search for my son, when I recognized a piece of his t-shirt. That's when I knew he was there."
Ihab told Mondoweiss that Jamil and the other boys were blown to pieces by the airstrike.

"Our sons were targeted in front of our eyes. We collected their body parts with our hands," he said.

The boys were killed just hours before a ceasefire between Israel and PIJ went into effect in Gaza. According to the Norwegian Refugee Council, three of the boys had been undergoing trauma therapy before they were killed.