As coronavirus crisis looms, Israelis launch Gaza solidarity campaign


April 3, 2020
JFJFP

Palestinian health workers set up tents for medical examination of suspected coronavirus patients at the Rafah border crossing with Egypt in the southern Gaza Strip on March 12, 2020.

Yaara Benger Alaluf, Hadas Pe’ery, Adi Golan Bikhnafo and Guy Shalev report in +972, April 2, 2020:

The new coronavirus has reached Gaza, and it is terrifying to imagine the potential outcome of a mass spread of COVID-19 in the besieged Strip. This is true not only because of how deadly the virus can be in the absence of a vaccine, but also because of the specific conditions in Gaza. The enclave has an extremely high population density and a dilapidated infrastructure, the result of lethal and disproportionate military attacks that Israel carries out every few months — most recently only a few days ago.

If countries with potent economies, advanced health systems, and strong social security networks struggle to cope with the pandemic, what will the effects be on Gaza? The mass infection and death toll we have witnessed in China, and that we are now seeing in Italy, Spain, and the United States, are but a taste of what may happen if the virus wreaks havoc across the world’s largest prison.

When we think of the inevitable disaster ahead of us, we also fear the ongoing indifference of the Israeli public toward the situation in Gaza. But the COVID-19 crisis also holds the potential for us to rethink our reality, question common sense, value our shrinking freedoms, reshape our priorities, and stand in solidarity.

That is why we, a group of Jewish Israelis, have launched an independent campaign called “Epidemic in Gaza” to raise awareness and express solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza. Our hope is that in a moment of crisis, when we are anxious about the health and well-being of those closest to us, we can nonetheless find room to acknowledge our responsibility for the reality taking place just a few miles away. It is our duty to provide instant aid and, more importantly, to call for an immediate shift in Israel’s inhumane policies toward the people of Gaza.

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