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Lives over politics for Palestinians

  • 07 April 2020
In a time of rapid global spread of the coronavirus, most countries are able to throw all the resources at their disposal towards limiting their death toll. But this is not the case for the Palestinian enclave of Gaza where 2 million people are crammed into just 141 square miles.

After almost 14 years under an Israel imposed economic blockade, as well as coming under bombing, most recently on the 27th of March, Gaza is struggling. Medical and food supplies are rundown, many houses are in ruins, power is intermittent, and there are water quality and sanitation issues.

Israel is able to harness the advantages of a technologically and economically advanced country to combat the virus spread within its people. Its Intelligence agency Mossad recently secured 187 ventilators, 25,00 N95 masks, 20,00 virus test kits, 10 million surgical masks and 700 protective suits.

At the same time Israel is withholding $11 million a month in tax revenues belonging to Gaza, the bulk of which in the past was spent on its health system. As of two weeks ago, there were only 65 ventilators and 70 intensive care beds in Gaza according to Physicians for Human Rights.

At the time of writing, Israel where the virus struck first has 8,430 confirmed coronavirus cases and 49 deaths. In the West Bank confirmed cases stand at 225 and one death. In Gaza 12 people are reported infected.

Economically crippled Gaza, with limited outside support, has to find makeshift ways to protect itself against the virus. Its clothing factories are urgently making masks and protective clothing but face limited supplies of material. Gaza has to struggle on two fronts at the same time — containing the virus while dealing with the blockade’s restrictions on goods and movement.


'Israel needs to realise that a virus pandemic is not a time for politics or discrimination. It is a time for protecting lives, all lives.'  

Concern has been raised by international aid organizations such as Oxfam that under the blockade, Palestinians in Gaza with its overcrowded refugee camps are open to a rapid spread of the virus. It has led to calls for Israel to lift the blockade and ease restrictions on humanitarian grounds. The United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Gaza, Jamie McGoldrick warned last week that a COVID-19 outbreak in the strip could have frightening consequences due to the long-term blockade, overpopulation and limited health resources.

The IfNotNow movement has