At least 21 people, including families and children, were killed when a fire broke out in an apartment building in a refugee camp in northern Gaza on Thursday, according to the Palestinian authorities in Gaza.
The Gaza Interior Ministry said the fire broke out in the Jabalia refugee camp. She added that a preliminary investigation concluded that there was a large amount of gasoline inside the building, which contributed to the escalation of the fire.
Ministry spokesman Iyad al-Bozom said all those in the building were killed.
Local media reports said that the dead included entire families, and placed a doctor, a local government official, a pharmacist, and their wives and children among the victims.
Hussein Sheikh, Secretary General of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, called on Israel to open the Erez crossing to allow the wounded to be transferred to hospitals outside Gaza.
Israel’s Defense Minister, Benny Gantz, said it would be right for Israel to do so to save human lives, but there appeared to be no wounded survivors to take.
Israel controls the Erez crossing, one of the few checkpoints that allows movement between Israel and Gaza.
The Gaza Ministry of Interior said police, civil defense and forensic forces were still investigating the incident.
Many families living in Gaza stock up on petrol and diesel to run generators, because electricity in Gaza does not exceed eight hours a day, as it has only one power plant.
The Hamas movement that runs the Gaza Strip regretted the deaths and called on the Palestinian people to participate in the funerals of the victims on Friday.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas declared a day of mourning for the victims.