Israeli Siege killing kids in Gaza

by Julie Webb-Pullman

Mother of the three children who died in the housefire in Shati Camp, Gaza City

Mother of the three children who died in the housefire in Shati Camp, Gaza City

Yousra, Rahaf, and Naser Al Hindi died in a house fire in Shati Refugee Camp in Gaza City on Friday night, after a candle fell on a mattress. The death of the three children, aged from one to five years, are being blamed by Gazans on the Israeli siege, and the lack of electricity in the coastal enclave.

In a press release on Saturday, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri described the dead brothers as “martyrs of the Israeli blockade,” and also accused PA head Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Rami al-Hamdallah of pursuing a policy of discrimination and marginalization against the people of Gaza through their failure to provide electricity.

He criticised the PA-controlled government’s tax on fuel supplies used to generate power in Gaza, and their refusal to submit an official request to the Israeli authorities for an additional power line.

At the children’s funeral, Deputy Leader of Hamas Ismail Haniyeh described their deaths as unforgivable, and no less a crime than the Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip.

Islamic Jihad and other factions and organizations have also condemned Israel and the PA over the fatal fire.

Gaza’s power is provided by a single local power plant, plus lines from Israel and Egypt – all of which are insufficient to meet the Strip’s needs. Gazans currently receive four-six hours of electricity daily, followed by 18 hours without, forcing residents to rely on candles to light their homes.

The power shortage is also having a significant effect on public health, with the chronic shortage of electricity causing a sewage crisis.

Country director for the World Bank in the West Bank and Gaza Strip Steen Jorgensen said a week ago that even eight hours of electricity a day is not enough to run a sewage plant.

“Israel has not agreed to run a dedicated electricity line, and other options have not been found,” he told reporters.

As a result, millions of gallons of raw sewage pour into the Gaza sea every day, having a major impact on the fishing industry, polluting the beaches and causing health problems for anyone using them, and critically damaging water supplies.

Because of the electricity cuts in Gaza, even the water used to put out fires can kill.