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Gazans decry chronic blackouts at fire victims' funeral

English.news.cn   2013-02-01 08:11:40            

GAZA, Jan. 31 (Xinhua) -- Outrage and grief prevailed at the funeral of six family members killed at home by fire predawn Thursday in eastern Gaza City in a fatal accident that occurred due to chronic blackouts.

Hundreds of mourners participated in the funeral of Dhaer family, and carried on their shoulders the bodies of Hazem, 32, his wife, 30, and their four children aged between three and six, who were burned to death in their little house in the neighborhood of Sheja'eya.

The angry mourners chanted slogans condemning the electricity shortage in the Gaza Strip and the lack of basic living supplies. The six bodies were well-covered in order that the terrible burns would not shock the mourners.

Some mourners fired shots into the air to vent anger. Many of them blamed the accident on Islamic Hamas movement, which has been ruling the Palestinian enclave since 2007.

Relatives of the victims said the fire was started by a candle in the electricity-deprived house, slamming Gaza power company for cutting the electricity.

The house had turned into ashes. Hundreds of people came to express solidarity with the victims.

At the end of the funeral, dozens of angry young men went to demonstrate in front of the company, holding it responsible for the disaster. They also criticized the civil defense and emergency services for coming too late to the rescue of the family.

Dozens of policemen were sent to disperse the angry crowd.

Ismail Jabber, Hamas Attorney General said that he had ordered an immediate probe into the accident.

A Police spokesman, Ayman Batninji, told Xinhua that initial investigation showed that the house was without electricity for two days and the family had to use candles instead, a founding the electricity company declined to comment on.

Power shortage has been a chronic problem in Gaza since Israel bombarded its sole power station in 2006. Local residents have to get by with generators and candles.

Official figures revealed that around 20 Palestinians were killed in the past six years due to the crisis. They were burned to death either in fire accidents or generator explosion. In one of the worst cases, three children from one family were killed in April 2012.

The ongoing accidents prompted many rights groups to mount criticism on the Hamas government.

Mustafa Ibrahim from a Gaza-based independent corporation for human rights told Xinhua that the government in the Gaza Strip "is fully responsible for what happened ... The people must live in dignity instead of misery."

The Islamic Jihad (Holy War) Movement and the left-wing Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) both condemned the government and held it responsible "for the painful disasters."

Editor: Hou Qiang
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