A picture of the three children who were killed in a fire is shown during their funeral procession in Deir Al Balah in Gaza Strip on Monday. The children, aged two, five and six, belonged to the Bashir family. Image Credit: AFP

Ramallah: Gaza Prime Minister Esmail Haniya and other top Hamas officials yesterday took part in the funeral of three children burned to death in their home at Deir Al Balah in the Gaza Strip.

The children were found dead on Sunday in a fire in their room caused by a candle being used due to lack of electricity in Gaza, an emergency services official was quoted as saying.

"A fire broke out in the children's room," said Adham Abu Selmiya, emergency services spokesman for the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

"Apparently the fire was caused by a candle which was being used after the electricity was cut," he said.

A fourth child, aged six months, was badly burned and taken to hospital, added Abu Selmiya.

The children, aged two, five and six, were members of the Bashir family, a relative said.

Speaking to Gulf News, Fawzi Barhoum, Hamas spokesman said that the failure to deliver fuel to Gaza and the power shortage has paralysed life there.

"The death of the three children is a crime and Israel is responsible for it."

"The victims' family and Gaza will not forgive Israel for this crime," he said.

Barhoum said that Israel and some groups in the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) were also responsible for causing a delay in delivering fuel to Gaza Strip.

"Egypt is required to act and come to the rescue," he said.

"The Arab countries on the other hand should play a more active role and support Egypt in delivering the fuel to Gaza," he said.

He said Gazans demand Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to act on the issue of the fuel and electricity shortage in Gaza. "We demand Abbas to act on this issue immediately," he said, adding that the Gaza cannot survive without the necessary fuel.

The International Committee of the Red Cross yesterday began transferring emergency supply of fuel to the Gaza Strip where an electricity crisis has hit medical services hard.

"This morning we began distributing 150,000 litres of diesel to Gaza hospitals and we will have completed the distribution by the end of the day," ICRC Gaza spokesman Ayman Al Shehabi told AFP.

The Red Cross said last week it would distribute the emergency supplies to help local hospitals deal with a dire shortage of fuel.

The 150,000 litres of diesel would "help 13 public hospitals maintain essential health services for the next 10 days," the ICRC said.

Gaza has long suffered power outages, but the current crisis has proved worse and longer than any before it. The territory's sole power plant has stopped operations many times in the past four months as supplies of fuel from Egypt — much of it smuggled through tunnels into Gaza — have dried up.

— with inputs from AFP