On April 8, 1970, the Israeli Air Forces bombed the Bahr el-Baqar primary school, located in the Egyptian village of Bahr el-Baqar, south of Port Said. This incident resulted in the deaths of 30 children and left more than 36 others wounded. The strike involved five bombs and two air-to-ground missiles, leaving a devastating aftermath.
The Attack on the School
The school, a single-floor structure with three classrooms, was entirely demolished in the attack, carried out by Israeli Air Force F4 Phantom II fighter bombers at 9:20 a.m.
Egyptian and Arab sources labeled the Bahr el-Baqar school bombing as a deliberate massacre and a war crime. They said that the attack was intentional, with the primary goal of imposing a ceasefire in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Egypt. Conversely, Israeli and Western sources argued that the Bahr el-Baqar bombing was a “tragic human error” on the Israeli side. They claimed that the Israeli military believed the school to be an Egyptian military installation.
While the Israeli government acknowledged the mistaken bombing of the nearby Abu Zaabal village as an error, they defended their actions in the Bahr el-Baqar case. Then-Defense Minister Moshe Dayan and Israeli envoy to the UN Yosef Tekoah asserted that the school was located within a military installation, presenting images from reconnaissance satellites that appeared to support this claim. They also argued that some of the students at the school were receiving military training, further justifying their actions.
The Bahr el-Baqar school bombing of 1970 is a reminder of the divergent narratives of a deliberate massacre and “human errors” that have persisted for decades by Israel.