Gaza’s New Conflict: COVID-19

Omar Shaban in Counterpunch:

When the news of confirmed cases broke out, Gazans started taking precautionary measures to protect themselves and their family members from infection. However, with the lack of sufficient resources and equipment, Gazans had only one other way to cope with stress: cynicism and dark comedy. From Facebook posts to Twitter hashtags, Gazans reacted to the irony of being advised by the Palestinian Authority not to travel, whilst living under siege and prohibited from doing so for more than a decade. Others reacted with sarcasm to isolation notices to close down businesses and shops and go into confinement, wondering how they would provide for their children when there is little commercial activity in an ailing economy, even before the arrival of the virus in the first place.

In Gaza, over 50% of the entire population is unemployed; the percentage is 75% for the youth, which renders thousands of workers in agriculture, transportation, retail, and other industries desperate (The Israeli GDP per capita is nearly 30 times that of Gaza’s). Unemployment rates are expected to rise due to major lockdowns of commercial and economic activities. Authorities in Gaza have already closed mosques for prayer, shut down events and activities involving any gathering of people; limited entry to Gaza’s seaport for fishermen under tight restrictions and closed street markets. These decisions were seen as a necessary evil to prevent a major outbreak. However, they will present a painful strike to a weak economy. In the absence of an economic rescue plan, more Gazans will suffer.

More here.

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