The story was everywhere and was everywhere the same. On June 9, Israel had fired a rocket onto a Gaza beach killing seven picnicking Palestinian civilians. The New York Times carried a huge, front-page picture of a 12-year-old girl weeping as she searched for her father's body in the sand (the photo was excerpted from video that has been broadcast around the world). CBS News reported, "The ruling Hamas group fired a barrage of homemade rockets at Israel on Saturday, hours after calling off a truce with Israel in anger over an artillery attack that killed seven civilians in Gaza." The New York Times characterized it this way: "Hamas fired at least 15 Qassam rockets from Gaza into Israel on Saturday, ending a tattered 16-month truce with Israel, a day after eight Palestinians were killed on a Gaza beach, apparently by an errant Israeli shell." CNN went even further, explaining that "Hamas' rocket attacks were prompted by a string of Israeli attacks, including an artillery shell blast that killed at least seven Palestinians picnicking on a northern Gaza beach on Friday."
Just another brutal attack on civilians by the Israel Defense Forces? So we are invited to conclude. But the IDF, after initially apologizing and offering assistance to the families of those killed, has now investigated and concluded that the explosion was not caused by an Israeli shell. Full stop.
First, consider this elemental difference between Israel and the Palestinians: Israel apologizes and tries to make amends if its missiles go astray and kill civilians. The Palestinians, by contrast, aim at civilians and dance in the streets when they are killed.
The Israelis say the explosion on the beach may have been caused by a land mine placed there by Palestinians to thwart any Israeli assault, or possibly by unexploded ordnance from an earlier skirmish. According to the Israelis, shrapnel taken from the bodies of victims did not match Israeli shells but looked more like bomb fragments.