As the COVID-19 pandemic rivets our attention, imagine how 1.8 million Palestinians feel, living in Gaza, densely populated and mostly cut off from the outside world. With our freedom and security under siege by pandemic, we can begin to appreciate life there. Palestinians in Gaza are used to such confinement and danger, living under Israeli-Egyptian military siege since 2007. The USA’s $5 billion annual contribution of weapons, military equipment and technology helps maintain it.
On March 22nd, the first two COVID-19 cases were announced in Gaza. They are two Palestinian men, aged 30 and 40, returning from Pakistan, now quarantined in Rafah on the Egyptian border. As COVID-19 spread in neighboring Egypt and Israel, the Hamas-led government began quarantine of travelers into Gaza. Given the limited capacity of Gaza’s healthcare system due to the blockade and three Israeli offensives over the past 12 years, an outbreak would be catastrophic. For example, Gaza has fewer than 200 test kits and about 20 available ventilators.
The World Health Organization director in Gaza, Abdelnasser Soboh, said in an interview with Al-Jazeera last week, “The health system won’t be able to deal with hundreds or thousands of cases, so the best thing here is the absence of the COVID-19 disease.””https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/03/gaza-virus-cases-cope-outbreak-200319121444619.html Soboh said that Gaza is in desperate need of protective clothes for medical workers, intensive care equipment, and ventilators.
Cleveland Peace Action calls on our government to act now, to insist that Israel and Egypt lift the blockade and support the residents of Gaza in fighting COVID-19.
US Senator Sherrod Brown
US Senator Rob Portman
Your US Congressional Representative.
Ask them to address the crisis in Gaza. Send medical resources to Palestine, not guns and missiles to Egypt and Israel.
- Immediately restore funding to UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency)
- Suspend military aid to Egypt and Israel
- Suspend the military blockade
- Open humanitarian corridors into Egypt, Israel and Jordan
- Release elderly and nonviolent prisoners in Israeli and Egyptian jails and prisons
- Rush medical personnel and equipment to the region