21 Palestinians perish in fire

THE embassy of the State of Palestine in Zimbabwe is mourning 21 people who were killed last night while several others were injured in a fire which engulfed a residential building in Jabalia Refugee Camp north of the Gaza strip.

Following the tragic incident, the president of Palestine Mr Mahmoud Abbas has declared today a day of mourning in which flags will fly at half-mast at all official institutions.

Palestinian Ambassador to Zimbabwe Tamer Almassri said such fires could have been easily put off had it been that the Palestinian authorities had adequate equipment.

He attributed the lack of equipment to the siege and blockade of the Gaza strip by Israeli forces.  “The Israeli blockade of the occupied Gaza Strip, in its current form, has been in place since June 2007, when Israel imposed an airtight land, sea and air blockade on the area,” Ambassador Almassri said.

“Israel’s siege on Gaza has devastated its economy and led to what the United Nations has called the “de-development” of the territory, a process by which development is not merely hindered but reversed.

“Over the years, Israeli missile attacks and ground incursions have also damaged Gaza’s infrastructure which includes hospitals, roads, government buildings, water pipes, electricity and sewage treatment infrastructure.”


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