The suffering of Palestinian civilians continues to deepen with the ongoing electricity cuts in the Gaza Strip. The present rotation schedule dictates that all households receive as little as four to six hours of electricity, followed by 12 hours of outage. This violates the majority of human rights, even jeopardizing the basic right to life. The proof of that is an increasing number of deaths, particularly among children, caused by fire accidents, where fires broke out after using unsafe alternatives to light homes in impoverished households.
In a very distressing recent incident, three siblings were killed after their house caught fire from the candles being used during the power outage. According to Al Mezan’s field investigations, at approximately 22:30 on Friday, 6 May 2016, a fire broke out inside of a house occupied by the Abu Hindi family. The house is owned by Al Nimnim family and is situated in block 5 of the Al Shati refugee camp in western Gaza. The fire broke out after the family used a candle to light the house during the period of power outage. The house caught fire while four siblings were inside. They have been identified as follows: Yusra Mohamed Ali Al Hindi, 4; Rahaf Mohamed Ali Al Hindi, 2,5; Naser Mohamed Ali Al Hindi, 9 months; and Mouhanad Mohamed Ali Al Hindi, 8. Yusra, Rahaf, and Naser were killed in the fire, while Mouhanad suffered severe burns. The police opened an investigation into the accident.
According to Al Mezan’s monitoring and documentation, since 2010 till the date of writing, 29 people, 24 of whom were children, have died from fire or suffocation in incidents related to the power outage.
It is worth noting that in the Gaza Strip, electricity is a paid service. The Palestinian government deducts the electricity bill directly from the salaries of their employees, while other residents who fail to pay their bills on time are penalized by disconnecting the service. This raises many questions as to why Gaza is incapable to pay its electricity bills to Israel or pay for the fuel necessary to run the Gaza power station.
Al Mezan expresses its profound regret over the death of innocent children. Al Mezan denounces the ongoing power outage and stresses that it is a direct result of the inability of Palestinian political actors to reconcile, even after the consensus government was formed.
Al Mezan holds the Palestinian government and political actors responsible for the electricity crisis, particularly Fatah, Hamas, and those in charge of the electricity service sector, i.e. Palestinian Energy and Natural Resource Authority and the Gaza Electricity Distribution Corporation. Al Mezan demands that the Palestinian government and political parties put an end to the Palestinian schism, which is furthering the decline of human rights and humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip on top of the ongoing Israeli blockade and violations.