|The charred remains of the children’s school books sit on the floor of their room, their six-month old sister Reem survived the blaze|
IRISH Friends of Palestine have launched the ‘Light Gaza’ campaign to help prevent needless deaths in Gaza from fires caused by accidents by people using candles and oil lamps for light when the Israeli siege imposes blackouts, regularly switching off all the electricity.
The ‘Light Gaza’ campaign provides families with solar-powered lights, allowing students and children to read safely and study at night.
Electricity is used as a weapon by Israel in the ongoing illegal siege of Gaza. Only small windows of power are provided at random intervals during the day and night with Israel often switching off the power completely as a form of collective punishment. Some families who can afford to buy generators are unable to run them as Israel constantly blocks fuel from being allowed into the coastal territory. The use of these generators, many of which are old and unreliable, has also led to deaths by carbon monoxide poisioning.
Speaking to An Phoblacht at the Irish Friends of Palestine stall at the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis in Mayo, spokesperson Sinéad Mac Lochlainn said:
“During our visit to Gaza last year we attended the funerals for three small children – Nadine age 6, Farah age 5 and Sabri age 4 – who died in a fire as they were reading books using a candle. It was the most horrific thing I have seen.
“Their mother took us into their room to show us where it happened. The charred remains of the books were still on the ground. It brought it all home that this is just another aspect of the siege. People are dying because they are forced to use candles or lamps to light their homes or when they want to read a book.”
Sineád also says light is needed to comfort small children in Gaza who are frightened of the dark. At night, low-flying Israeli fighter jets and unmanned drones roar across the camps, terrifying children.
“What we are doing is aiming to provide a solar light to every family living in the refugee camps. I think it’s something we can all get behind. It’s strictly a humanitarian campaign. The lights cost €10 each and they can really make a difference. No one should die because they want to read a book or get an education but, sadly, this is happening all too often in Gaza.”
For more information about the campaign or to buy a light for Gaza, go HERE
- This article first appeared in the May 2013 edition of An Phoblacht newspaper