Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
Five children of a homeless family die burning in a refugee tent
Date: 7 January 2002
On Sunday, 6 January 2002, five Palestinian children died and the
rest of their family were injured when the tent they were living in
was accidentally set on fire. The family had been forced to live in
the tent after their house located 40m away from Neve Delaim
settlement, west of Khan Yunis, had been repeatedly shelled by
Israeli occupation forces.
This tragic incident is a symbolic manifestation of the suffering of
hundreds of Palestinian families who have become homeless as a
result of the policy of forcible migration adopted by the Israeli
forces, demonstrated in the systematic and disproportionate use of
firepower in residential areas and the continuing demolition of
Palestinian homes and property. Such incidents violate basic human
rights, including economic and social rights such as the right to
housing, food, work. Also in violation of international human rights
law, the victims of these violations have been provided with no
effective means of attaining redress for their losses.
According to information received by the PCHR Field Work Unit,
Mahrous Mahmoud Huneideq, 40, physically handicapped from Khan
Yunis, had lived with his eight-member family in a house in Khan
Yunis refugee camp, close to Neve Dekalim settlement. The family,
like hundreds of Palestinian families, suffered under Israeli
shelling that repeatedly targeted their house and were eventually
forced to leave their damaged house in fear of their lives. The
family received a tent from the ICRC in the Gaza Strip which they
set up on a tract of agricultural land in Al-Rumeida area in Bani
Suhaila town, east of Khan Yunis.
The tent was accidentally set alight when one of the children lit a
candle near cooking oil. Five children of the family, Nafez, 3;
Turkia, 5; Fadi, 6; Sufian, 7; and Hussein, 9, were killed. The
father, Mahrous Huneideq, the mother, Zinab Ali Abu Sabla, 35, and
the eldest son Mahmoud, 16, received serious burns.
PCHR expresses its deep sorrow for this tragic incident which was
the consequence of a situation in which the family had been forced
to live in a tent by the repeated shelling of their house by the
Israeli occupation forces, leaving their home severely damaged and
them in fear of their lives.
PCHR calls upon the international community to immediately intervene
to end Israeli military attacks on civilian residential areas,
including the demolition of Palestinian homes by the Israeli
occupation forces, which have led to the complete destruction of
more than 400 houses and partial destruction of more than 1000 homes
in the Gaza Strip alone. These attacks are particularly common in
areas adjacent to Israeli military locations and Jewish settlements.
PCHR calls upon the ICRC and UNRWA to provide appropriate emergency
housing which can ensure the security and safety of the homeless
families, especially in winter.
PCHR also calls upon the Palestinian National Authority and NGOs to
provide living requirements for the families affected by the policy
of house destruction and shelling, including food, clothing and
housing, and to consider it a priority on the national