At least seven Palestinians from Gaza drown in Tunisia sea attempting to reach Europe
Speaking to The New Arab, Ahmed al-Deidk, an official at the Ramallah-based Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that "Younis al-Shaer, Maher al-Shaer, Mohammed al-Shaer, Sami al-Shaer, Moqbil Ashour, Adam Shaath, and Mohammed Qishta were drowned off Tunisia sea."
"The Embassy of the State of Palestine in Tunisia is following up on the field with the competent Tunisian authorities to ascertain the cause of death after all the bodies were presented to the forensic medicine," he said.
The victims' families were officially informed that the Palestinian migrants had drowned in the Tunisia sea and funeral homes were opened to receive condolences.
In separate remarks to TNA, several relatives of the dead held the Palestinian officials and Israel directly responsible for the deadly incident.
"If the youths find their future in Gaza, they will never leave it. They will prefer to build their country and live their normal life among their families," Suhaib al-Shaer, a cousin of four victims based in Rafah, said to TNA.
"My cousins dreamed of finding work elsewhere as they failed to achieve any of their goals in their country...Most of the young people in Gaza are looking forward to leaving it as soon as possible," he added.
Ameer Qishta, a cousin of another of the victims who drowned in Tunisia, said he was shocked to find out that his relative and best friend passed away. He blames the Gaza-run Hamas, Fatah and Israel for the incident.
"All Gazans have been suffering from the unprecedented consequences of the illegal Israeli blockade as well as the internal division between Hamas and Fatah," he said. "People have lost their hope to live in peace in this area."
Since 2007, Israel imposed an illegal blockade on the coastal enclave, home to more than 2.3 million people, after the Islamic Hamas movement seized the territory from its rival, the Mahmoud Abbas-led Fatah movement.
Israel also launched four large-scale military wars against the besieged enclave, killing about 5,330 Palestinians and destroying most of the governmental and residential facilities, according to official statistics.
Around 80 per cent of Palestinians are dependent on international aid, according to the United Nations.
Residents receive between four to eight hours of electricity a day on average, while the unemployment rate is one of the world's highest at 54 per cent, reaching 70 per cent among university graduates.