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Does Israel Have the Right to Cage Two Million People in a Coronavirus-Ravaged Prison Camp? PDF Print E-mail
Apr 15, 2020 at 03:36 PM

For thirteen years, Israel has kept two million Palestinians in Gaza chained inside the world’s largest open-air prison camp. Now the global COVID-19 pandemic is bearing down on the occupied enclave. What will happen if thousands of desperate civilians try to escape?

The COVID-19 pandemic has strained the capacities of even the wealthiest countries. For the two million inhabitants of Gaza — most of whom are children under the age of eighteen — an outbreak would spell catastrophe.

The narrow coastal strip is among the most densely populated areas on the planet, making “effective self-isolation” there “nearly impossible.” Thirteen years of Israeli blockade compounded by three large-scale military assaults have driven its infrastructure and health care system to “the brink of collapse.”

There are only eighty-seven ICU beds with ventilators in all of Gaza, many of which are already in use. A significant proportion of essential drugs are at less than a month’s supply and testing capacity is extremely limited. As of April 12, thirteen cases had been confirmed. Should containment efforts fail, humanitarian officials predict “a disaster of gigantic proportions,” a “tipping point,” a “nightmare scenario” bringing “untold human suffering.”

For Israel, the prospect of contagion in Gaza conjures a “nightmare scenario” of its own: “masses of Palestinians rushing the border fence to save themselves from the raging disease in the besieged enclave.” Faced with “a flood of people at the border fence,” Israel would try to “halt attempted infiltrations.” But in a column for the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Aharonoth, veteran military correspondent Alex Fishman outlined the political dilemma this would pose:

These will not be violent demonstrators but frightened and helpless civilians, many of whom might be infected and the military response will have to be a non-violent one because Israel cannot claim it has any legitimacy to open fire on sick civilians.

Unfortunately, precedent gives reason to doubt this judgment.

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PCHR Calls upon International Community to Assist Gaza Strip Healthcare System to Fight Coronavirus PDF Print E-mail
Mar 29, 2020 at 03:35 PM

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Gaza Strip preparedness and capacity to face the Coronavirus at the present time is only sufficient for cases up to 100 or 150; however, if the cases increase, the fragile healthcare system would be incapable of responding to large numbers of patients. The situation requires the intervention of UN bodies, international and local organizations to exert  all efforts and provide the necessary equipment, devices, supplies, medicine and medical crews.

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Opinion: Coronavirus Confirmed in Gaza: This Is What Israel Must Do – Now PDF Print E-mail
Mar 22, 2020 at 12:00 AM

The identification of the first two cases of coronavirus in Gaza is a frightening moment for its inhabitants. But there are immense legal and moral ramifications for Israel, the occupying power

The first two cases of the coronavirus have now been confirmed in the Gaza Strip, with those individuals reportedly entering Gaza through Egypt, having traveled from Pakistan. 

This is an incredibly frightening development, with potentially devastating consequences for those living in the enclave. If COVID-19 spreads in Gaza, and particularly if it spreads across the territory, the ramifications are absolutely immense for both Gazans - but also for Israel as an occupying power. 

This is a long-overdue time of reckoning for Israel. It must finally step up and accept responsibility for its imprisonment of two million human beings for almost 13 years. Israel has acted with almost complete disregard for Gazans’ basic human rights without expecting considerable repercussions, for the people of Gaza, but also for itself. The situation in Gaza is grave and has been for a long time, but with COVID-19 there is the potential for it to become far worse.

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Israel’s caging of Gaza is a recipe for coronavirus disaster PDF Print E-mail
Mar 22, 2020 at 12:00 AM

The pandemic's arrival threatens to make Gaza even more unlivable under Israeli siege. Humanitarian aid is not enough — Palestinians need freedom.

The Palestinian Health Ministry today reported its first two cases of the novel coronavirus in the Gaza Strip. For weeks the Hamas-led authority, which has ruled the blockaded territory since 2007, undertook serious measures to preempt the arrival of the virus to the strip. Up until its decision to seal off its sides of the Rafah crossing with Egypt and the Erez checkpoint with Israel, hundreds of Palestinians who entered the strip were immediately quarantined to ensure they had no symptoms of the disease.

These actions, however, are of very little comfort.

It is no exaggeration to say that the prospect of COVID-19 spreading in the Gaza Strip is terrifying. This year, 2020, is the year in which the United Nations and other international agencies predicted that Gaza would become “uninhabitable.” If Israel’s 13-year blockade and isolation of the strip continued, they warned, Gaza’s most basic services and its capacity to sustain itself would collapse.

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Concentration camps – at the US border and in Gaza PDF Print E-mail
Jun 24, 2019 at 12:00 AM

Since last week, a media storm has been taking place over Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez use of the term “concentration camps” to refer to the detention camps for immigrant families on the country’s southern border.

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Gaza has become unlivable. One needs to soak in these terms and repeat them to oneself. Nearly two million people are living in an unlivable concentration camp. They have been herded there already in 1948 (over 70% of Gaza’s residents are refugees), and they are repeatedly targeted for protesting their incarceration – even when they protest it with absolutely no arms, they get shot with lethal ammunition.

We need this language, we need these comparisons to wake us. While some may be offended by the language, the reality it addresses is often far beyond the imagination.

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Welcome to Lockdown: Covid-19 Quarantine and the Gaza Experience PDF Print E-mail
Mar 23, 2020 at 12:24 PM

In 2004, I was selected by the Palestinian Ministry of Telecommunication to attend the International Telecommunication Union Annual Congress in Hong Kong. Although I had the visa, the ticket, and packed bags, I was not able to travel as Gaza was put on partial quarantine by the Israeli military that controlled the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. On my way to the Rafah crossing, I had to stop at two main military checkpoints; both of them were involved in splitting the Gaza Strip into cantons, imposing a relatively harsh lock down on millions of the Palestinians for months. Employees, students, patients, and travellers, as well as basic supplies and goods, were not allowed to move between the main parts in the Gaza Strip. That day, the Israeli military did not allow the car through that I was in, and I had to go back to Gaza city. No reasons were given to us as to why we could not cross. That was a normal, unjustified practice that heightened our sense of frustration and hopelessness. In 2006, Israel, after it withdraw from the Gaza Strip as well as after the Palestinian elections that brought Hamas to the political arena, imposed a quarantine on two million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, not allowing anyone to leave or move in or out of the Gaza Strip, restricting essential goods and services from entering the Gaza Strip, making it unbearable to a living human being.

These days, as the world faces a global pandemic of Coronavirus outbreak without discrimination between race, nationality, region, or class, there is a unique thing that unites us all, which is quarantine, and in some places a curfew. This quarantine reminds me of the lock down I experienced in Gaza.

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Covid-19 Comes to Gaza PDF Print E-mail
Mar 22, 2020 at 12:00 AM

It was almost 1 a.m. when I read the news that Gaza had identified its first two coronavirus cases. My heart beat rapidly and fear flushed like ice water through my body. I continued to read but my eyes teared up and everything looked blurred, like a gauzy curtain had suddenly dropped down. I attempted to blink the tears out of my eyes and continue reading.

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Israeli government uses Corona crisis to further its political agenda

In many Israeli hospitals, Jewish and Palestinian doctors work side by side. Right-wing politicians who oppose the participation of Palestinian citizens of Israel in the Knesset (parliament) are more than willing to have Palestinians risk their lives fighting this deadly virus. But the practices of the Israeli government in providing health services to its citizens are highly discriminatory. As guest columnist Suha Salman-Mousa explains, they appear to be guided by a desire to protect Jewish citizens of Israel while mostly ignoring its non-Jewish citizens.

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