Teenage friends in #Gaza die together while playing in a park thanks to #Israel bombardment while teenagers of the world safely enjoy their summer holidays. How is this fair? #GazaUnderAttackpic.twitter.com/JpvsPq6p0Z— Omar Ghraieb🇵🇸 (@Omar_Gaza) July 14, 2018
At least two were killed and several injured after Israel reportedly launched fresh air strikes on what it said were Hamas hideouts inside Gaza over the weekend.
The health ministry in the city has identified the victims as 15-year-old Amir al-Nimra and 16-year-old Loay Kheil.
The two deceased boys were inseparable since childhood, little did they know, they would also depart this world together.
"I heard an explosion, and instinctively knew that something had happened to my son," Loay’s mother told Al Jazeera during a tearful conversation.
The 33-year-old woman said she had just arrived home when the air raid struck the building in al-Kateeba square, located next to a park which was frequently visited by the Palestinian teens during summers.
"I first heard that Amir was killed, and it was then that I knew," she said. "I ran to the hospital and began looking for my son, frantically."
Unfortunately, as she reached the al-Shifa hospital, a group of men broke the devastating news to the young mother that her son had also succumbed to the injuries and lost his life.
The latest air raid was the largest daylight attack carried out by Israel on the besieged enclave since the 2014 war.
According to Israeli army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus, the decision to bomb Gaza was taken after “terror along the security fence, arson terror and rockets.”
Israel claimed a high-rise in Al-Shati refugee camp in the north was covering a militant tunnel and an underground warfare training facility. However, the health officials in Gaza said the building was empty.
Regardless, the tragic reality is the two boys, both born in 2003 and both passionate about football, became the victims of the intense cross-border exchange.
"My son left the house with a football, not a weapon," said Loay’s mother.
Surrounded by a group of women sitting inside her home in Gaza, she zoomed in on a photograph on her mobile phone and repeatedly kissed the screen.
"He was very smart," she said of her son, who she wanted to send abroad for “better opportunities” as she knew she was raising her kids on a land riddled with trauma and uncertainty of life.
However, not in her worst nightmare did she expect losing one of her kids to such senseless violence.
"I never thought I'd lose one of my kids," she added, crying.
It was equally hard for Amir’s mother, Maysoon al-Nimra, to come to grips with the tragedy that had befallen upon her family. While Loay got hit in the head and back, Amir’s entire body was reportedly punctured with shrapnel wounds.
"When the attacks happened, like any mother I gathered my children around me, but Amir was still not home," she recalled.
She scrolled through her son’s phone and stared longingly at the last photo Amir took at the top of the semi-abandoned building before the air raid.
"I can't fathom it. I spent the night just staring at one picture of him, smiling and the other picture of him, blood coming out of his head. How did this happen? How could it happen? There's a massive hole in our house now and it will never be filled," she said in a state of disbelief.
In response to the deadly airstrike by Israel, more than 90 rockets and mortars were reportedly fired from Gaza at southern Israeli towns. As a result, at least three Israelis were injured but no lives were lost.
Israel’s Prime MinisterBenjamin Netanyahu also acknowledged the fact the country’s forces had delivered “the hardest blow” to Hamas since the 2014 conflict.
“We will increase the strength of our attacks as necessary,” he added.
Banner Image Credits: REUTERS/Mohammed Salem