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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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Driver who sparked Acre riots: I'd sacrifice myself to bring back coexistence

Haaretz Sunday, October 12, 2008

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1028249.html

By Jack Khoury, Haaretz Correspondent, and Reuters

The Arab man who drove into a Jewish neighborhood in Acre on the eve of Yom Kippur, sparking a series of riots and violent clashes, told the Knesset Committee of the Interior on Sunday that he would "sacrifice his neck" to bring coexistence back to the bi-national nothern city.

"If what I did caused this, I am ready to sacrifice my neck right here on this table, on lowered gallows, just to return peace and quiet back to the city of Acre, to bring co-existence back to its place.

Jamal said that contrary to the accusations brought against him, he had not been drunk nor playing loud music when he entered the Jewish neighborhood last Wednesday. "I just wanted to go home, I made and mistake and tried to ask for forgiveness. This has been a harrowing experience."

He also said that he had been one of the founders of a community co-existence committee in Acre: "We invented co-existence," he said. "They have made me out to be a murderer, they've turned me into a fascist. We are not Nazis, we are not fascists.

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