On May 7, 2016, fire broke out in the Abu al-Hindi home in Gaza’s Shati (Beach) refugee camp. Started by a tipped candle, the flames grew quickly grew out of control.
Three children, Yusra, 3, Rahaf, 2, and Nasser, 6 months, perished in the burning house, and Muhannad, 8, was severely burned. Ali, 6, is the only survivor without physical injuries but lives with deep psychological trauma.
Neighbors attempted to rescue the children by breaking a hole through the wall, but by the time they could reach the children, it was too late.
The fire is a direct result of severe electricity shortages due to the ongoing and tightening Israeli/Egyptian since and repeated Israeli military assaults.
In April, Gaza’s sole power plant ran out of fuel. Prior to that, the power plant was working at partial capacity due to repeated Israeli military attacks since 2006.
This has only been exacerbated by political infighting between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.
Since the beginning of 2016, the Palestinian Authority, which is dominated by Fatah, has gradually lifted fuel tax exemptions to Gaza’s power plant and imposed a ‘blue tax’, rendering the power plant unable to purchase fuel and further forcing Gaza’s residents to rely on candlelight.
The fire came just hours after Israeli member of Knesset Bezalel Smotrich said that the Israeli government, rather than private citizens, should carry out revenge attacks against Palestinians, specifically referring to the burning of Palestinian teenager Muhammad Abu Khdeir in occupied East Jerusalem in 2014 and the firebombing attack in the West Bank village of Duma in 2015 which killed baby Ali Dawabshe and his parents as they slept.
While Smotrich’s call to burn Palestinian children alive made headlines in Israeli media, actual burning of children did not. The burning of the Abu al-Hindi family, for which Israel is ultimately responsible, went unnoticed in Israel. Such is the normalization and institutionalization of even the most grotesque forms of violence Israel metes out against Palestinians. Rather than a group of settlers carry out vigilante attacks under the cover of night, the deaths of the Abu al-Hindi children were written by some office worker tasked with overseeing the power Israel allows Gaza’s electrical company to purchase, which is just 45% of the required amount.