Gaza City: Held high above the grieving crowd, the bodies of four young children, each wrapped in the Palestinian flag, were carried to their graves, along with four other family members killed in an Israeli air strike on their house in central Gaza City.
The bulldozers were working overtime in the deep crater filled with concrete, metal, ripped toys and smashed furniture that was once the al-Dallu house, as the search teams tried to recover the bodies of two other family members before the funerals began. They did not succeed.
The machines fell silent as the bodies were carried past, but the crowd did not. Tears spilled over into anger at what one relative called “Israel's act of terrorism”.
“All of my family is gone . . . my wife is gone, my sister is gone,” said Jamal al-Dallu as he sat in mourning before the procession. “There is no reason to do this, no reason for this massacre.”
At least four of Mr al-Dallu's family who were killed in Sunday's massive blast from an Israeli air strike were children, aged two, five, six and seven. “They cannot fire any rockets,” he said in quiet agony.
There was a strong Hamas presence at the funeral and during the later procession to the graveyard, although the family is not known have an affiliation with any militant group.
“There is no empty land [from which to launch rockets], Mr al-Dallu said, “and my son is not in Hamas or Islamic Jihad, he is just a traffic policemen” for the Hamas-led administration that runs the Gaza Strip.
“The Israelis gave us no warning . . . every house is now a target for Israel.”
Two neighbours were also killed in the blast.
Mr al-Dallu was at the family's grocery store with one of his two surviving children when the missile hit. He raced home to find his house destroyed and so many of his family trapped inside.
The Israeli Defence Force has yet to issue a statement about its airstrike, saying it is continuing to “look into reports” that it targeted the wrong house.