Israeli naval shelling [correction: air strikes] has killed four children on a Gaza beach. The deaths were witnessed by many international journalists, among them the UK Guardian‘s Peter Beaumont:

The first projectile hit the sea wall of Gaza City’s little harbour just after four o’clock. As the smoke from the explosion thinned, four figures could be seen running, ragged silhouettes, legs pumping furiously along the wall. Even from a distance of 200 metres, it was obvious that three of them were children.

Jumping off the harbour wall, they turned on to the beach, attempting to cross the short distance to the safety of the Al-Deira hotel, base for many of the journalists covering the Gaza conflict. They waved and shouted at the watching journalists as they passed a little collection of brightly coloured beach tents, used by bathers in peacetime.

It was there that the second shell hit the beach, those firing apparently adjusting their fire to target the fleeing survivors. As it exploded, journalists standing by the terrace wall shouted: ‘They are only children.’

In the space of 40 seconds, four boys who had been playing hide and seek among fishermen’s shacks on the wall were dead. They were aged between seven and 11; two were named Mohammad, one Zakaria and the youngest Ahed. All were members of the extended Bakr family.

The number of Palestinian dead is now at least 223. Israel and Hamas have agreed to a temporary, five-hour ceasefire requested by the UN on humanitarian grounds.

Maybe just maybe being direct eyewitnesses to a sample of Israel’s ‘carefully targeted’ killings will make a few more Western journalists courageous enough to tell the real Gaza story. The phrase ‘collective punishment’ might even be inserted occasionally into mainstream news or punditry, who knows? The tragedy has directly inspired Western headlines such as these:

And there are other hopeful signs of a break in the pro-Israel propaganda storm. For example, in a counter to the main ‘news’ (“Humanitarian Israel is telling Gazans to get out of the way!”) propaganda of the hours before the deaths of the four Gaza boys, the Dallas Morning-News presents this reality: Gaza civilians urged to evacuate often have nowhere to go.

More from Peter Beaumont on the Palestinian boys:

As relatives gathered not far from the Al-Deira hotel to bury the four dead boys, barely 90 minutes after the attack on the beach, the boys’ uncle, Abdel Kareem Baker, 41, said: ‘It’s a cold-blooded massacre. It’s a shame they didn’t identify them as kids with all of the advanced technology they claim they’re using.’

Meanwhile in Israel:

A well-known Israeli politician and parliament member has branded Palestinians as terrorists, saying mothers of all Palestinians should also be killed during the ongoing Israeli assault on the besieged Gaza Strip.

Ayelet Shaked of the ultra-nationalist Jewish Home party called for the slaughter of Palestinian mothers who give birth to ‘little snakes.’

‘They have to die and their houses should be demolished so that they cannot bear any more terrorists,’ Shaked said, adding, ‘They are all our enemies and their blood should be on our hands. This also applies to the mothers of the dead terrorists.’