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Fire kills 3 toddlers in besieged Gaza Strip

Palestinian mourners carry the bodies of three children who were killed in a fire caused by a candle, during their funeral in the Shati refugee camp in Gaza City, Saturday, May 7, 2016. (photos by AP)

Nida’a returned home exhausted from a fishing trip with her kids Yousra, Rahaf, and Naser, and started preparing supper for the toddlers, when their candlelit-house caught fire in the Israeli besieged Gaza Strip, leading to the kids’ death.

The three brothers aged five, three and one, burned to death on Friday night after their home in the al-Shati refugee camp was set alight after a candle fell on a mattress.  

Gazans are mostly forced to use candles as constant power cuts leave them without electricity sometimes for some 18 hours a day.

“My children died hungry,” she said during the children’s funeral held on Saturday.

Following the funeral service for the toddlers, hundreds of Palestinians carrying pictures of the burned children held a protest decrying the Tel Aviv regime’s blockade.

The enclave’s electricity was partially supplied by its single remaining power plant until last month when fuel shortages caused the plant’s closure. The remainder of electricity is purchased from Israel and Egypt.

Reports blame fuel shortage on the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority‘s recent removal of fuel tax exemption, demanding that the Gaza-based Hamas resistance movement pay taxes on fuel imports to the coastal strip.

Palestinian children look through a hole in a wall at a burned bedroom where three children were killed by candle sparked on their family house in the Shati refugee camp in Gaza City, Saturday, May 7, 2016. 

Gazan energy authorities, however, say they cannot afford their tax bill, which adds up to some 10 million shekels (2.6 million dollars) a month.

The Gaza Strip has been under an Israeli siege since June 2007. The blockade has caused a decline in the standards of living as well as unprecedented levels of unemployment and unrelenting poverty.

Israel has also waged three wars on Gaza since 2008, including the 2014 offensive, which left more than 2,200 Palestinians dead and over 11,100 others injured.

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