21 Palestinians killed in mysterious Gaza house fire, Israel offers assistance

“Israel will be do the right thing to help the residents of Gaza who were harmed, in order to save lives,” Defense Minister Gantz tweeted.

By Associated Press

A fire that broke out on Thursday evening in the northern Gaza Strip killed at least 21 people, the territory’s Hamas rulers said, in one of the deadliest incidents in recent years outside the violence stemming from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The blaze erupted on the third floor of a three-story building in the crowded Jabaliya refugee camp, according to the terrorist group.

The Civil Defense in Gaza, which is run by Hamas, attributed the cause of the fire to gasoline that was being stored in the building. It was not immediately clear how the gasoline ignited. Officials said an investigation was underway.

Flames were seen spewing out of the windows of the burning floor as hundreds of people gathered outside on the street, waiting for fire trucks and ambulances.

Gaza, ruled by Hamas and under a crippling Israeli-Egyptian blockade, faces a severe energy crisis. People often store cooking gas, diesel and gasoline in homes in preparation for winter. House fires have previously been caused by candles and gas leaks.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas offered condolences to the families of the dead and declared Friday a day of mourning.

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Hussein Al-Sheikh, a senior Palestinian Authority official, called on Israel to open its border crossing with Gaza to allow for the evacuation of those injured who need advanced medical care to Palestinian hospitals in Israel.

“The State of Israel and the security establishment express sorrow for the heavy disaster in Gaza,” Defense Minister Benny Gantz tweeted, adding that the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) has offered humanitarian assistance in the evacuation of hurt civilians.

“Israel will be do the right thing to help the residents of Gaza who were harmed, in order to save lives,” he stated.

World Israel News contributed to this report.