During the first world war, Palestine faced an epidemic similar to the ongoing “Corona” virus, which was known as “Spanish Flu”; a virus that was carried by the British army to Palestine. But this virus isn’t widely known as it disappeared by the end of the Second World War.
Covid-19, in 2020, invaded the world starting from China to the rest of the world, including Palestine. On February, the first case was registered in a hotel at Beitlahem city where two Greece tourists were diagnosed with the virus. In Gaza Strip, the first case was diagnosed on March 21, and since then it has been witnessing a rise in Covid-19 cases.
Historically, Palestine is divided into Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and occupied Jerusalem “Isreal”. The cases in Palestine reached 62,046, of which 45,000 were in the West Bank and 5,442 in the Gaza Strip. The number of deaths registered were 519 and recovery was only 54.667 in all over Palestine.
The President of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas issued a decision to impose a state of emergency in Gaza, Bethlehem and Hebron until the number of infections decreased.
The state of emergency also included measures to prevent weddings, funerals, gatherings, and opening of sports clubs and entertainment venues, to limit the spread of Covid-19.
The internationally adopted health strategy to confront the epidemic bases on the adoption of a package of isolation, quarantine and social distancing measures, which in some cases have reached complete quarantine and curfews, given the lack of a therapeutic drug nor a preventive vaccine so far.
This strategy is still followed in Palestine wherein the government imposes a full quarantine on people movement in some areas, followed by sterilization campaigns in the Gaza Strip and maintenance of social distancing.
The Gaza Strip, one of the most populated areas, has witnessed spread of several contagious diseases because of continuous wars. In 2014, during the last war, Israel released phosphorous gas, which led to the spread of many diseases related to the respiratory system. The Gaza Strip also lacks medical facilities and equipment for treatment.
Moreover, the Gaza Strip is closed and besieged on both sides, Jordan and Egypt, as the crossings are only opened once in every four months. This helps in increasing the cases that will lead to a doubling of the number of infectious dramatically.
Concerned about the lack of capabilities to confront Covid-19, Palestinian health ministry director-general of the medical professions, Osama al-Najjar, said, “The laboratories of the ministry of health have stopped conducting checks, except for travellers and patients referred to hospitals, and those in need of surgery.”
Besides, Israel is dealing with the epidemic as a political security threat in which it wants to prove to the world and also to the Jews from outside Palestine, that it is the most reassuring “country” to live in an emergency. Therefore, Israel prevents the permanent curfew on its residents. The Israeli government cannot oblige its people to follow the lockdown instructions due to Israeli elections, so it has developed monitoring techniques to reduce the number of infections inside it.
During the lockdown period, Palestinian workers faced a lot of problems, especially in Israel. A worker said, “Israelis deal with Palestinian workers as “germs that are dangerous to public health.” In the Gaza strip, the workers depend on their daily production. Lockdown has made their lives miserable.
Furthermore, there is a possibility of more losses; thus the push to return to normal life.
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