Israeli airstrikes killed 13 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, said Palestinian officials, including a man and two of his sons whom Gazans say weren’t connected to any armed faction. Wednesday’s deaths brought the Gazan death toll to 23 over the past two days.
>> Follow our live updates of the events in Gaza
But the deaths of Mohammed Ayyad, 54, Islam Ayyad, 24, and Ameer Ayyad, 7, attracted particular attention in Palestinian and other Arab media because none of them was connected to any armed group or involved in any way in attacks on Israel, according to information obtained by Haaretz. Some of this information came from an investigation by Gazan researchers from the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights.
According to eyewitness testimony, the three were hit at the entrance to their home near a mosque in Gaza City’s Zeitoun neighborhood. Relatives said they were about to go visit a family member hospitalized in the city’s Shifa Hospital. But other sources said Mohammed Ayyad had just returned home on his motorcycle from a plot of land he owns, and that his sons had come out of the house to greet him.
People who knew the family said neither Mohammed nor Islam were known as political activists or militants, and an Al Mezan researcher suggested that the only reason they were targeted is because they were on a motorcycle. “For the Israelis, apparently any two people riding on a motorcycle have become a target,” he said.
- Missile hits human rights office in Gaza. Here's why you never heard about it
- In second day of Gaza flare-up, Islamic Jihad fires hundreds of rockets as Israel pounds the Strip
- Netanyahu and Hamas chief in Gaza have emerged as unlikely allies
Video clips circulated on social media showed the family matriarch emerging from her home and crying out as she saw her husband and sons lying dead.
“I heard the explosions and had a bad feeling that my family had been hit,” she said. “I went outside and saw the three of them wallowing in their blood. The sight was terrible, it was an atrocity. My youngest son, Ameer, was still breathing, and I managed to shout for help, but a few minutes later, he died.”
The three were buried Wednesday afternoon. There was no sign of senior officials or armed men from any militant group in the mourning tent, though normally these groups would send representatives if one of their members were killed.
Another incident that made local headlines was a strike on a wood-working shop in Gaza City in which five people were killed. According to the Gazan Health Ministry, they were Ayman Fathi Abd al-A’al, 50; his sons Ibrahim, 17, and Ismail, 16; Mahmoud Hathat, 19; and Suheil Kanitha, 23. Palestinian reports said that Abd al-A’al, Hathat and Kanitha all belonged to Islamic Jihad’s armed wing, and photographs showed them in the organization’s uniforms.
Reuters contributed to this report.