- On May 28, 2021, the front page of the New York Times published pictures of children and adolescents killed in the Gaza Strip and Israel during Operation Guardian of the Walls with the headline, “They Were Just Children.” The Times listed the names of 67 children under the age of 17 who were killed, two in Israel and 65 in the Gaza Strip.
- A few days later the Times printed a retraction, reporting that one of the pictures was of a child killed under other circumstances and not during the hostilities.
- However, it was not the Times’ only inaccuracy. An Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center examination of the list revealed that the name of one of the children belonged to a Hamas military-terrorist wing operative. He was Muhammad Sabar Ibrahim Suleiman, 16, killed on May 11, 2021, in an attack in the eastern part of Jabalia along with his father, a commander in Hamas’ military-terrorist wing (the Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades) (dci.palestine.org, May 11, 2021).
- A video issued a few days after the end of the hostilities shows Muhammad Sabar Ibrahim Suleiman wearing an Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades uniform and learning to shoot a machine gun and other weapons. The instructor next to him is also wearing an Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades uniform (@DigFind Twitter account, June 1, 2021). Thus despite his young age, he had been recruited by Hamas to its military-terrorist wing.
Right: Muhammad Suleiman trains with a machine gun. Left: Muhammad with various weapons (@DigFind Twitter account, June 1, 2021).
Muhammad Suleiman holding an assault rifle (@DigFind Twitter account, June 1, 2021).
- Previously, Khaled Imad Khaled al-Qanua (Abu Suheib), who was identified by the New York Times as a 17 year-old boy, was found to be a 20 year-old terrorist operative. He was killed on May 13, 2021, in an aerial attack on a Palestinian terrorist squad near Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip. The Mujahedeen Brigades, the military-terrorist wing of the Mujahedeen Movement, whose leadership split from Fatah and are today allied with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and close to Iran, issued a mourning notice stating he was an organization operative and 20 years old (Mujahedeen Brigades’ Telegram channel, May 13, 2021).
Khaled al-Qanua (Abu Suheib) (Mujahedeen Brigades’ Telegram channel, May 13, 2021).
- At least eight of the children whose names were on the list were killed by terrorist organization rockets that misfired and fell inside the Gaza Strip on May 10, 2021:
- Baraa al-Ghrabi, 4, from Jabalia.
- Ibrahim Hassanein, 16, from Beit Hanoun.
- Mustafa al-Abir, 17, from Beit Hanoun.
- Hussein Hamad, 11, from Beit Hanoun.
- Yazen al-Masri, 2, from Beit Hanoun.
- Marwan al-Masri, 7 from Beit Hanoun.
- Ibrahim al-Masri, 11, from Beit Hanoun.
- Rahaf Muhammad Atallah al-Masri, 10, from Beit Hanoun.
- Most of the remaining 55 were killed when the IDF attacked terrorist targets and the children were either on site or nearby. Some were related to terrorist operatives who or whose houses were the targets of IDF anti-terrorist attacks. Some were killed when two buildings collapsed after the IDF attacked terrorist tunnels close to their foundations. Hamas used the tunnels as command centers, to store weapons and as hidden passageways for operatives to move between posts.
- The IDF carried out about 1,500 aerial attacks, and despite its efforts to avoid harming civilians in general and children in particular, Hamas’ tactic of positioning its command centers in the heart of densely populated areas led directly to the unfortunate deaths of more than 50 children. At least 120 non-combatants (including the children) and 111 terrorist operatives from the various organizations were killed in the IDF strikes.
- After Operation Guardian of the Walls, Yahya al-Sinwar, head of the Hamas political bureau in the Gaza Strip, admitted that positioning the terrorist headquarters in civilian structures was “problematic,” and by implication led to civilian casualties (al-Jazeera, June 5, 2021).