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Coronavirus in Gaza: The Blockade Will Kill Palestinians

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When people started to share the Facebook post “Dear world: How is the lockdown? – Gaza,” I felt uncomfortable. Though the posters sought to generate empathy for the 2 million Palestinians trapped in the Gaza Strip, the attempt to compare the closure that free citizens of the West are experiencing to the 13-year siege on the Strip is, at the very least, tasteless. Now that the virus has crossed the military checkpoints and 12 Palestinians have been diagnosed as infected, the distortion of this comparison is going to become tragically clear.

Gaza residents will suffer not just from the natural complications the virus causes, but from the fact that the siege puts them at an extreme disadvantage in all three categories considered vital to battling the coronavirus epidemic: health services, social conditions that determine the level of health, and the ability to keep social distance from one another.

Health services

Extensive information has been published over the past few weeks on the readiness of the world’s health systems and their influence on coronavirus mortality levels. Basing themselves on South Korea – which unlike Italy and Spain managed to gain considerable control over the spread of the virus – experts argue that testing is crucial to saving lives. But today in Gaza there are very few testing kits (around 200) and as of March 24, only 144 people had been tested.

We also know that in some countries, people are dying because the hospitals can’t cope with the huge number of patients needing ventilators. Doctors in the United States and Israel are warning that the number of........

© Haaretz