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href="https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/tamara-nassar/first-coronavirus-cases-reported-gaza">https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/tamara-nassar/first-coronavirus-cases-reported-gaza</a></font>
        <h1 class="reader-title">First coronavirus cases reported in
          Gaza</h1>
        <p class="node__submitted">
          <span class="field field-author"><a
              href="https://electronicintifada.net/people/tamara-nassar">Tamara
              Nassar</a></span> <span class="field field-blog">-</span>
          <span class="field field-publication-date"><span
              class="date-display-single"
              content="2020-03-22T22:08:16+00:00">22 March 2020</span></span>
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                <figure id="file-90386"><source media="(min-width:
                    72rem)"><img
src="https://electronicintifada.net/sites/default/files/styles/original_800w/public/2020-03/220320_-_gaza-disinfection-coronavirus.jpg?itok=KRkp5hK4&timestamp=1584909619"
                    alt="Three workers in uniform disinfect street"
                    title=""><figcaption>
                    <p>Palestinian workers disinfect a street in Gaza
                      City on 22 March. Two cases of COVID-19 have been
                      confirmed in the Strip. </p>
                    <small>
                      <span>APA images</span></small></figcaption></figure>
                <p>The first two cases of <a
                    href="https://electronicintifada.net/tags/covid-19">COVID-19</a>,
                  the disease caused by the new coronavirus, have been
                  confirmed in the Gaza Strip, one of the most densely
                  populated places in the world.</p>
                <p>Yousef Abu al-Rish, a health ministry official in
                  Gaza, <a
                    href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WdQdPjPvlUs">announced</a>
                  that the pair had recently returned from Pakistan and
                  were already in quarantine when diagnosed.</p>
                <p>Both patients were transferred to a field hospital in
                  Gaza’s southernmost city, Rafah, where preparations
                  for potential coronavirus cases have been made. All
                  those who came into contact with the patients have
                  been placed in compulsory quarantine.</p>
                <p>A third Palestinian, in the occupied West Bank town
                  of Salfit, who <a
                    href="https://qudsn.net/post/174144">attended</a>
                  the same conference in the Pakistani town of Raiwind
                  near Lahore, also tested positive for the virus.</p>
                <p>This brings the number of confirmed cases in the
                  occupied West Bank to 57, two in the Gaza Strip, and
                  approximately 1,000 in Israel, where one death has
                  been reported.</p>
                <p>There are currently about 1,200 Palestinians in 18
                  different quarantine centers in the Gaza Strip.</p>
                <h2>West Bank lockdown</h2>
                <p>Palestinian Authority prime minister Mohammad
                  Shtayyeh <a
                    href="http://english.wafa.ps/page.aspx?id=TfJHxma115474287984aTfJHxm">ordered</a>
                  a two-week lockdown on all Palestinian residents in
                  the occupied West Bank, barring emergencies, to go
                  into effect Sunday night.</p>
                <p>Those working in pharmacies, grocery stores, bakeries
                  and healthcare facilities are exempted from the
                  lockdown.</p>
                <p>Shtayyeh’s decision has no bearing on some 800,000
                  Israeli settlers living in illegal settlements in the
                  occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem. The
                  settlers share certain roads, grocery stores and gas
                  stations with Palestinians.</p>
                <p>Unlike Palestinians, settlers are free to move in and
                  out of Israel as they please, subject only to
                  restrictions imposed by Israeli authorities.</p>
                <p>As part of the PA’s emergency measures, Palestinians
                  will no longer be allowed to work in Israeli
                  settlements.</p>
                <p>Some Palestinians defied orders to cease work in
                  settlements last week, <a
href="https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/palestinians/palestinians-defy-leaders-coronavirus-crisis-ban-on-work-in-settlements-1.8691735">citing</a>
                  their need to feed their families.</p>
                <p>Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Palestinian laborers
                  are continuing their work inside Israel without being
                  able to return to their homes in the occupied West
                  Bank or Gaza Strip.</p>
                <p>Israel automatically renewed permits for Palestinian
                  laborers working in Israel, but anyone who returns
                  home will risk losing their permit.</p>
                <p>“Defense minister Naftali Bennett decided that only
                  laborers who agree to stay overnight in Israel for two
                  months can continue to work at jobs considered
                  ‘essential,’” Israeli daily <em>Haaretz</em> <a
href="https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-for-palestinian-construction-workers-in-israel-the-coronavirus-is-just-one-more-dan-1.8694613">reported</a>.</p>
                <p>For Palestinians, it is a desperate situation. One
                  worker, identified only as Ibrahim, told the <em>Haaretz</em>
                  reporter, “I prefer to be home like the Jews and like
                  you, with a mask. But what will my wife say if we
                  don’t have money? It’s a choice of no-choice.”</p>
                <h2>Medicine stock “chronically low” in Gaza</h2>
                <p>Michael Lynk, the UN’s special rapporteur on human
                  rights in the West Bank and Gaza, is <a
href="https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=25728&LangID=E">urging</a>
                  Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian
                  resistance organization Hamas to deploy all health
                  resources at their disposal to stymie the spread of
                  the pandemic.</p>
                <p>The Palestinian Authority run by Mahmoud Abbas
                  exercises limited control in the occupied West Bank,
                  while Hamas runs the interior of the besieged Gaza
                  Strip.</p>
                <p>Lynk affirmed that Israel, as the occupying power, is
                  obligated under international law to guarantee basic
                  services and health infrastructure for Palestinians.</p>
                <p>Instead, Israel has <a
href="https://electronicintifada.net/content/gazas-sick-pay-price-blockade/17501">diminished</a>
                  the capacity of Gaza’s health system and <a
                    href="https://electronicintifada.net/tags/dual-use-list">prohibited</a>
                  vital supplies from entering the territory.</p>
                <p>Israel has imposed a siege on Gaza’s two million
                  population for the past 13 years and controls the
                  passage of goods in and out of the territory.</p>
                <p>Israel bans the import to Gaza of a long <a
href="http://www.cogat.mod.gov.il/en/services/Documents/List%20of%20Dual%20Use%20Items%20Requiring%20a%20Transfer%20License.pdf">list</a>
                  of so-called “dual-use” items which it claims may have
                  military purposes.</p>
                <p>These include medical supplies like glycerine and
                  hydrogen peroxide, which is used as a disinfectant.</p>
                <p>Israeli rights group Gisha is <a
                    href="https://gisha.org/press/11019">calling</a> on
                  Israel to suspend its blockade on Gaza and allow all
                  necessary items to enter.</p>
                <p>Gisha cited “an acute shortage in ventilators, ICU
                  beds, medicine and protective equipment available in
                  the Strip in the event of a wider outbreak.”</p>
                <p>It added that the Strip is not equipped to handle the
                  pandemic, as its infrastructure is “inadequate even in
                  ‘normal’ times.”</p>
                <p>Gaza’s “healthcare system was collapsing even before
                  the pandemic,” UN special rapporteur Lynk stated. “Its
                  stocks of essential drugs are chronically low. Its
                  natural sources of drinkable water are largely
                  contaminated.”</p>
                <p>He noted that Gaza’s population is already more
                  vulnerable, “with malnutrition on the rise, poorly
                  controlled non-communicable diseases, dense living and
                  housing conditions, an elderly population without
                  access to proper nursing care and high smoking rates.”</p>
                <p>UK-based charity Medical Aid for Palestinians has
                  also <a
href="https://www.map.org.uk/news/archive/post/1097-map-releases-hygiene-kits-for-palestinians-quarantined-in-gaza-schoolshttps://www.map.org.uk/news/archive/post/1097-map-releases-hygiene-kits-for-palestinians-quarantined-in-gaza-schools">warned</a>
                  an outbreak in the coastal enclave could be
                  “catastrophic.”</p>
                <p>UN humanitarian coordinator Jamie McGoldrick released
                  $1 million in emergency funds to prepare the occupied
                  West Bank and Gaza Strip for an outbreak and appealed
                  for more funds.</p>
                <h2>Prisoners threaten hunger strike</h2>
                <p>Meanwhile, Palestinians in Israeli prisons are <a
href="https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-palestinian-prisoners-in-israeli-jails-threaten-hunger-strike-over-coronavirus-1.8697309">threatening</a>
                  to go on hunger strike at the beginning of April to
                  protest measures by the Israel Prison Service that may
                  expose them to the virus.</p>
                <p>Israeli guards reportedly raid prison cells without
                  face masks and protective gear, subjecting detainees
                  to health risks in light of the fast-spreading virus.
                  Prison authorities have also barred visits by family
                  and lawyers.</p>
                <p>Last week, Israeli prison authorities <a
href="https://www.facebook.com/ppsmo/photos/a.648140535250649/2894016947329652/?type=3&theater">withdrew</a>
                  some 140 items from prison commissaries, including
                  food and hygiene products.</p>
                <p>Four Palestinian detainees in Megiddo prison in
                  northern Israel were isolated after they came into
                  contact with an Israeli guard who had the coronavirus.</p>
                <p>The detainees have not been tested for the virus,
                  however. In order to qualify for testing, prisoners
                  must have come into contact with an infected person
                  and also show symptoms of COVID-19.</p>
                <h2>Jordan under curfew</h2>
                <p>Neighboring Jordan meanwhile <a
href="https://petra.gov.jo/Include/InnerPage.jsp?ID=23298&lang=en&name=en_news">imposed</a>
                  a full, <a
href="https://petra.gov.jo/Include/InnerPage.jsp?ID=23347&lang=en&name=en_news">indefinite</a>
                  curfew on the kingdom starting Saturday. All citizens
                  are required to stay in their homes, barring
                  emergencies, and virtually all businesses are closed.</p>
                <p>Jordan’s borders have also been completely closed.</p>
                <p>There are 112 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in
                  Jordan as of Sunday, with no deaths and one recovery.</p>
                <p>The World Health Organization has recorded more than
                  300,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus as of
                  Sunday, more than 13,000 of them fatal.</p>
                <br>
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