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January 08, 2002
Five children of a homeless family die burning in a refugee tent



Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
Press Release

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