On Tuesday evening, 1 September 2020, three siblings: Yusuf Omar Al-Hazeen, 5, Mahmoud, 4, and Mohammed, 2, died in a fire that broke out in their house in Al-Nuseirat refugee camp, in the Middle Gaza district. The severely burned victims were transferred to Al Aqsa Hospital.
Initial field information indicates that the fire started in the Al-Hazeen’s simple, asbestos-roofed house from of a candle that was lit during a power blackout on Tuesday evening, after the LED lights the family use as an alternative ran out of battery. The Ministry of Interior and National Security has launched an investigation into the tragic incident.
Major electricity shortages have been a feature of life in the Gaza Strip since 2006, and recently, power has been available for only four hours a day, largely because of Israel’s illegal restrictions on fuel to the Gaza Strip. Al Mezan’s documentation shows that 35 Palestinians, including 28 children, have lost their lives, and some 36 others, including 20 children, have sustained burn injuries in similar incidents since 2010. Families who endure poverty at higher rates appear to be more susceptible to harm as a result of the use of dangerous electricity alternatives.
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights is deeply saddened by the tragic death of the Al-Hazeen children and expresses serious concern over the continued loss of life from the ongoing power crisis, which stems from Israel’s illegal and punitive closure. Al Mezan calls on the local authorities to seek effective solutions to the crisis and to exempt poor families from power supply charges. Al Mezan also calls on the international community to exert pressure on Israel to immediately lift the blockade and closure and stop exploiting its control over the entry of fuel to the Strip. We also urge the concerned agencies, NGOs and international bodies to mobilize support for residents of the Gaza Strip, whose lives are threatened by the ongoing power crisis, and to improve the living conditions in Gaza.