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If Coronavirus Overwhelms Gaza, Israel Alone Is to Blame
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The Palestinians of Gaza know all about lockdowns. For the past 13 years, some two million of them have endured a closure by Israel more extreme than anything experienced by almost any other society – including even now, as the world hunkers down to try to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.

Israel has been carrying out an unprecedented experiment in Gaza, using the latest military hardware and surveillance technology to blockade this tiny coastal enclave by land, air and sea.

Nothing moves in or out without Israel’s say-so – until three weeks ago, when the virus smuggled itself into Gaza inside two Palestinians returning from Pakistan. It is known to have spread to more than a dozen people so far, though doctors have no idea of the true extent. Testing equipment ran out days ago.

Unless Gaza enjoys a miraculous escape, an epidemic is only a matter of time. The consequences hardly bear contemplating.

Countries around the world are wondering what to do with their prison populations, aware that, once it takes hold, Covid-19 is certain to spread rapidly in crowded, enclosed spaces, leaving havoc in its wake.

Gaza is often compared to an open-air prison. But even this analogy is not quite right. This is a prison that the United Nations has warned is on the brink of being “uninhabitable”.

In the prison of Gaza, many inmates are undernourished, and physically and emotionally scarred by a decade of military assaults. They lack essentials such as clean water and electricity after repeated Israeli attacks on basic infrastructure. And the 13-year blockade means there is only rudimentary medical care if they get sick.

Social distancing is impossible in one of the most crowded places on earth. In Jabaliya, one of eight refugee camps in the enclave, there are 115,000 people packed together in little more than a square kilometre. Comparable population density nearby in Israel is typically measured in the hundreds.

There are few clinics and hospitals to cope. According to human rights groups, Gaza has approximately 60 ventilators – most of them already in use. Israel has 15 times as many ventilators per head of population.

There is little in the way of protective gear. And medicines are already in short supply or unavailable, even before the virus hits. Gaza’s infant mortality – an important measure of medical and social conditions – is more than seven times higher than Israel’s. Life expectancy is 10 years lower.

Unlike a normal prison, Gaza’s warden – Israel – denies responsibility for the inmates’ welfare. Since it carried out a so-called “disengagement” 15 years ago, dismantling illegal settlements there, Israel has argued – against all evidence – that it is no longer the occupying power.

That should have been proved an obvious lie when Palestinians, choking on their isolation and deprivation, began rallying in protest two years ago at the perimeter fence that acts as a cage locking them in. Demonstrators were greeted with live fire from Israeli snipers.

Around 200 people were killed, and many thousands left with horrific injuries, mostly to their legs. Medical services are still overwhelmed by the need for long-term surgery, amputations and rehabilitation for the disabled protesters.

What is already a crisis barely needs a nudge from the coronavirus to be tipped into a health disaster.

And with most of the population already below the poverty line, after Israel’s blockade destroyed Gaza’s textile, construction and agricultural industries, the economy is no shape to withstand an epidemic either.

Most governments, including Israel’s, maintain a degree of control even in the face of this most unexpected emergency. They could prepare for it, even if many were slow to do so. They can marshall factories to produce ventilators and protective equipment. And they have the resources to rebuild their health services and economies afterwards.

If they fail in these tasks, it will be their failure.

But Gaza is entirely dependent on Israel and an international community preoccupied with its own troubles. Even if health authorities can secure ventilators and protective equipment in the current, highly competitive global market, Israel will decide whether to let them in. Equally, it could choose to seize them for its own use, in order to placate growing domestic criticism that it is short of vital equipment.

The blame for Gaza’s plight – now and in the future – lands squarely at Israel’s door.

Israel should be helping Gaza, but it is doing the precise opposite. Last week, Israeli planes sprayed herbicide to destroy the crops of Gaza’s farmers – part of a policy to keep clear sight-lines for Israeli military forces.

Moreover, in this time of crisis, Gaza’s food insecurity is only set to deepen. For the past year, Israel has been starving both Gaza and the rival Palestinian Authority in the West Bank of the taxes and duties it collects on their behalf and that rightfully belong to the Palestinian people. Many families have no money for food.

The US has aggravated this financial crisis by cutting funds to the United Nations refugee agency, UNRWA, which cares for many of Gaza’s families expelled by Israel from their homes decades ago and forcibly crowded into the enclave.

The little influence retained by Hamas relates to the thousands of Palestinian political prisoners held illegally in Israel. Hamas wants them out, especially the most vulnerable, aware of the danger the virus poses to them in Israel, where the contagion is more advanced.

It is reported to be trying to negotiate a release of prisoners, offering to return the corpses of two soldiers it seized during Israel’s infamous attack on Gaza in 2014 that killed more than 500 Palestinian children.

If Israel refuses to trade, as seems likely, or denies entry to much-needed medical supplies, Gaza’s only other practical leverage will be to fire missiles into Israel, as Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar has threatened. That is the one time western states can be expected to notice Gaza and voice their condemnation – though not of Israel.

But if plague does overwhelm Gaza, the truth about who is really responsible will be hard to conceal.

Modelling the horrifying conditions in Gaza, Israeli experts warned last year of an epidemic like cholera sweeping the enclave. They predicted hundreds of thousands of Palestinians storming the fence to escape contagion and death.

It is the Israeli army’s nightmare scenario. It admits it has no response other than – as with the fence protests – to gun down those pleading for help.

For decades Israel has pursued a policy of treating Palestinians as less than human. It has minutely controlled their lives while denying any meaningful responsibility for their welfare. That deeply unethical and inhumane stance could soon face the ultimate test.

A version of this article first appeared in the National, Abu Dhabi.

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Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His books include “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is www.jonathan-cook.net.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Coronavirus, Gaza, Israel/Palestine 
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  1. jsinton says:

    I have to believe that the virus is shock doctrine. It allows all sorts of power to be unleashed and imposed. Gaza is just one of the many casualties of the “solution” that the virus will bring. No one will complain when thousands die in Gaza this way, as ma and pa are preoccupied with their own existence. People were revolting because they became too aware of the crimes of our fearless leaders, and this is one way for elites to reassert their power. Orwell was a prophet.

  2. Christo says:

    At least the Palestinians now have an experimental Chinese bio-weapon and the means to produce it.

  3. anarchyst says:

    Israel practices official “apartheid” to a much greater degree than that of any other country in the world—the former South Africa included.

    Every vehicle driver in Israel proper and in the illegally occupied territories is identified by his or her vehicle license plate as well as personal documentation (identity papers). License plates are coded as to the ethnicity and religious persuasions of the owners, and are used to deny basic “rights” to those who are of “the wrong ethnicity”.

    There are roads and thoroughfares that are designated “for jews only”. “Jews-only” roads and thoroughfares are state-of-the-art, paid for with American taxpayer dollars, while roads used by Palestinians are poorly maintained, with many military “checkpoints” which adds further misery to the lives of Palestinians.

    Any Arab or Palestinian who attempts to use “jews only” roads or thoroughfares is arrested and heavily fined.

    This policy even extends to “footpaths” which are designated by “jewishness”.

    Palestinians and other Arabs are forced to go through humiliating “checkpoints”, even being delayed for HOURS, if they are even allowed to pass, at the whim of the jewish “authorities”. This even extends to medical emergencies, where ambulances are routinely delayed by jewish authorities, “just because they can”.

    In Israel proper, and in the illegally occupied territories, Israeli officials make rules and laws as they go along, ignoring the (official) laws (rule of law) already in place.

    On a whim, any Israeli official can declare that a building, other structure, planted farmland, water wells, and other basic facilities owned by Palestinians are “illegal” and subject to destruction by Israeli forces.

    This even applies to buildings, lands, orchards and crop-producing lands which have been in Palestinian possession for centuries. All the Israeli military has to do is to declare the Palestinian-owned property to be a “military zone”. No other laws or permissions are needed to expropriate land from the Palestinians.

    Water is heavily restricted in Gaza and in the Palestinian areas while jewish settlements can use all the water they want.

    Sewage from illegal jewish settlements is routinely dumped on Palestinian land without regard to the pollution problems that it causes.

    This is a continuing process that is forcing Palestinians off their land and facilitating the building of jewish “settlements” in the illegally occupied areas.

    Let’s turn to the treatment of Christians in Israel proper. In the tourist areas, jewish authorities try to keep the disrespect for Christianity to a minimum so as not to insult their Christian zionist tourists.

    In fact, the hatred for Christian churches, and Christians in general is so pervasive, it is not surprising to see jews “spit” when walking past a Christian church.

    Jews are experts at “graffiti”, calling it “price tagging” which they use to good effect as the authorities generally “look the other way” when the vandalism and destruction of Christian facilities by jews is going on.

    The Israeli authorities plan specific itineraries for Christian zionist groups and American politicians so they do not witness the overt, outright hatred that jews have for Christians,

    You see, “it’s all for show” when it comes to begging for American dollars from the American taxpayers and from these misguided Christian zionist groups.

    The irony of the situation is that the Palestinians who have lived in the middle east for centuries and even millennia are reduced to being unwelcome in their own land while jewish interlopers, most of them from the United States and Europe are overlords in Israel and in the illegally occupied territories.

    • Thanks: Ann Nonny Mouse
    • Replies: @A123
    , @Anonymous
  4. A123 says:
    @anarchyst

    In the non-Apartheid cities of Mecca and Medina, all entry by non-Muslims (e.g. Jews) is prohibited.

    Based on the non-Apartheid Mecca precident, I propose a simple non-Apartheid solution for Jerusalem & Israel. Under identical standards of religious, non-Apartheid equality — entry by Muslims into Jerusalem will be prohibited. This would fix the Apartheid problem you are complaining about.

    After all Islam and Judaism are equal faiths, aren’t they?

    You wouldn’t propose one standard for superior Muslims and another for inferior Jews, would you?

    PEACE 😷

  5. Anonymous[213] • Disclaimer says:
    @anarchyst

    I think raising awareness of Israeli/Jewish hatred of Christianity is key to getting through to Westerners just what an oppressive, genocidal shithole Israel is.

    Most Westerners rationalise Israeli oppression of Arab Muslims with ideas like “they’re terrorists”, “they are anti-Semitic and therefore deserve it”, but I find that when these people become aware that Palestinian Christians are treated in exactly the same way it makes them think and supporting Israel becomes harder for them to rationalise.

    • Replies: @A123
  6. But no one cares under the current Zionist supremacist regimen that rules the US.

  7. T. Weed says:

    Israel is to blame? Nonsense. Jews are never guilty of anything, they’re always the victims, didn’t you know?

  8. A123 says:
    @Anonymous

    Palestinian Christians are treated in exactly the same way it

    Christians in Muslim occupied Judea & Samaria are in a difficult position. If they:

    — Do Not Collaborate — Islamic Jihadi colonizers will scream the words of death, Allah Ahkbar, before raping and killing them.

    — Collaborate — The victims of 1,400 years of Muslim aggression are unlikely to treat them kindly.

    it makes them think, and supporting Israel becomes harder for them to rationalise.

    Let me fix that for you:

    it makes them think, and supporting Non-native Muslim Colonies becomes harder for them to rationalise.

    Violent Shia involvement with the Islamic occupation of Judea and Samaria is causing the centuries of Muslim land theft to lose popularity with everyone, including Sunni Muslims.

    The necessary solution to achieve peace is Muslim de-colonization of land Islam stole 1,400 years ago. Jerusalem is Holy to two only faiths, Christianity and Judaism. When Islam is willing to end their violent occupation of the Temple Mount, they will move al’Aqsa to a historically valid site.

    Until then, I strive for peace. However, there is little one person can do while the followers of Muhammad demand violence, war, and death.

    PEACE 😷

  9. So, Israel gets all the credit if Covid 19 runs rampant in Gaza?
    OK, got it; GO ISRAEL!

  10. anon[155] • Disclaimer says:

    Israelis and jews in general would like nothing better than to liquidate all the Palestinians. Why is this so difficult to understand?

  11. Sean says:

    Places like Gaza and the detention camps in Xinjiang are now the whole world’s problem.

    https://www.zeit.de/wissen/gesundheit/2020-03/sars-cov-2-pandemic-history-spanish-flu-english The virus that triggered the Spanish flu pandemic must have mutated in the months and years prior to March 1918 from a harmless flu pathogen to a deadly virus. Soldiers were packed so closely together in the trenches and they died so quickly that the flu virus had to adapt, says biologist Paul Ewald (Public Health Reports: Byerly, 2010). From an evolutionary perspective, it is advantageous for viruses to refrain from killing their hosts since they need living humans and animals to multiply and spread. But in 1918, because soldiers were dying so quickly of other causes – such as gunfire, typhoid fever, severe diarrhea and complications from trench foot – a form of virus developed that was able to multiply extremely quickly. But the more rapidly it multiplied, the more deadly it became. And it was this fatal variation that spread at the end of the war.

    The creation of a super virulent second wave as there was in 1918 would be a disaster for everyone. Israel (and China most especially) must be told in no uncertain terms they must take preventive measures.

  12. The people who control Trump have already profited handsomely by allowing this virus to spread, which probably offsets their disappointment at China and Iran’s successful containment. They’d love to have it go wild in Gaza. The leaders of the US regime, Porky Pompeo and Jared’s Uncle Bibi are animals.

  13. Svevlad says:

    Ah, then we’ll have the ultimate test if the lockdowns are overkill or not

    If I was them, I’d just pull a mongols and start trebucheting dead bodies over into Israel. One of them can start black death 2.0

  14. UK says:

    Why do the Palestinians keep their fellows in refugee camps on land they control many decades after they arrived? That is totally bizarre, and disgusting. It’d be as if the Israeli kept Iraqi Jews in camps still. What on earth is wrong with them? A compassionate reporter would take up this extremely marginalised population’s cause.

  15. @A123

    Since you haven’t denied the cruelty of Jewish action, but confirmed some similarity to Muslim action, I assume you agree that Jewish action in Gaza is barbaric.

    Praise to you sir – it is always good to admit wrongs, learn, and move away from suffering!

    • Replies: @A123
  16. A123 says:
    @Ilya G Poimandres

    Since you haven’t denied the … , I assume …

    — Not denying something does not make it true.
    — Not confirming something does not make it false.

    Are you with me so far? Good.

    Given that I have neither denied nor confirmed, what does that mean?

    Try to figure it out. It is good to learn basic logic skills that you should have absorbed as a child.

    PEACE 😷

    • Replies: @Ilya G Poimandres
  17. @A123

    Whattaboutisms in the cesspit with what you see as cesspit creatures, just means your beliefs and practices don’t not belong there.

    • Replies: @A123
  18. the virus smuggled itself into Gaza inside two Palestinians returning from Pakistan

    Clearly Israel alone is to blame. Its lockdown of Gaza is not nearly as severe as well-meaning people would have us believe. If Gaza is an “open-air prison”, it must be the only prison in the world whose inmates are free to travel to distant foreign countries, and to which the same inmates will voluntarily return.

  19. A123 says:
    @Ilya G Poimandres

    The cesspit Muslim creatures just need to return to their ancestral homelands. Then the problem would be solved.

    No one can fix Islamic cesspits other than the Muslims who choose to voluntarily live in their own filth. When Muslims end their 1,400 years of illegal occupation and colonization, they will take their cesspit beliefs with them, thus ending the conflict.

    PEACE 😷

  20. The Arab world is to blame, first for manufacturing a people like the “Palestinians” (long ago I lived in a small Arizona town where at one time, a bunch of white guys had gotten together and invented an Indian tribe out of themselves, and got funding as a legit tribe. Same thing.)

    The Arab world has tons and tons of places for them to go. Land, if you can get the lazy buggers to farm, they’re good at burning down anything given to them…. jobs, etc. It’s like being on the beach where there are tons of empty beach chairs but you want THE one some little old lady is sitting on, just trying to get some vitamin D.

    • Agree: Lot, A123
    • Disagree: Ann Nonny Mouse, anarchyst
    • Replies: @A123
  21. @Priss Factor

    Geez, I’m always hearing about Zionist shadow governments, Zio-control of this and that and the other, TV = Talmudvision, Bux = Zogbucks, etc yadda yadda…..

    The WASPs running the US have turned it into such a shithole, I say, bring it.

    Here’s an interesting documentary I found a while back:

    It’s called “Hollywoodism” and it’s about those evul jooz who made a ton of movies. And you know what? I’d love to live in that world. The bad guy getting caught, and families giving a damn about each other, and all that.

    My stance is that we don’t actually have Jewish control of things in the US because if we did, we’d be a far, far better country.

    • LOL: GazaPlanet
  22. Lydia says:

    Also see their CRUELTY on IRAN

    Iran, having suffered from US sanctions since 1979, is particularly affected. With the US withdrawal from the joint nuclear agreement at the beginning of 2018, US President Donald Trump exacerbated the situation. Agreed relaxation of the sanctions did not come into force. Instead, Trump announced that he would “reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero”. According to the US administration, far-reaching financial sanctions, which came into force at the end of 2019, are also to isolate Iran economically.”

    Excerpt from:

    Sanctions cause considerable disruption to health care
    Countries like Syria and Iran are fighting the corona virus on two fronts

    https://www.zeit-fragen.ch/en/archives/2020/no-7-13-april-2020/sanctions-cause-considerable-disruption-to-health-care.html

  23. The entertainment industry has destroyed America’s culture, that has been necessary to give the bankers and intelligence agencies the propaganda power to discredit the organic resistance of the native citizenry and their traditional institutions.

  24. A123 says:
    @alex in San Jose AKA Digital Detroit

    You are 100% correct.

    The phrase “Palestinian Muslim” is an oxymoron. One can be a Palestinian or one can be a Muslim. The two concepts are mutually exclusive, and the proof is simple.

    How many violent Jihadi Muslim occupiers were in Palestine at the following dates:

    — 400 BC?
    — 200 BC?
    — 0 BC/AD?
    — 200 AD?
    — 400 AD?

    The correct answer is ZERO. Islam is not native to Palestine. The violent Muslim colonization and occupation of non-Muslim, Infidel lands began ~600 AD.

    The the first step to peace in Palestine is bringing the number of Muslims down to the proper historical population of 0%. Once all Muslims decolonize and return to their ancestral homelands, there will be plenty of space in Palestine for non-Arab Palestinian Jews and non-Arab Palestinian Christians to live amicably with each other.

    PEACE 😷

  25. Max Payne says:

    Gaza will be fine. Unlike Jews who seem to have a penchant for genetic diseases, Palestinians seem healthy (relatively speaking). If covid-19 is as weak titty as it seems Gaza can do with shedding some senior citizens. Israel on the other hand, with a large number of patients who qualify under the triple-organ transplant club (kidney, liver, heart)…. I don’t know… I’m just saying Israeli bonds don’t look so good right now.

    I like how the first-world is pissing itself over this thing and the third-world is like “whatever man… shit….”

  26. @A123

    Palestine IS the ancestral homeland of the Palestinian Muslims and Christians. They are the indigenous people, the descendants of the ancient Hebrews and Canaanites. The Jews of “Israel”, the land, are almost all Europeans distinguished from other Europeans only in practising weird rituals including the genital mutilation of babies but many others. They have no right to have colonized a Semitic land.

    Real historians have shown that the Muslim conquest of Palestine did not dispossess its inhabitants. The only illegal occupiers are the Jews, whose beastliness you have well demonstrated.

    • Replies: @A123
  27. Jimmy1969 says:

    Blame is a silly little word to use in this context. Israel has gotten away with war crimes against the Palestinians since 48. The US has done nothing. If the shoe was on the other foot….Congress would have authorized the US Military to be used from day one.

  28. A123 says:
    @Ann Nonny Mouse

    Real historians have shown that the Muslim conquest of Palestine did not dispossess its inhabitants.

    Real historians agree that Islam is 100% foreign to Palestine, and there are no legitimate “Palestinian Muslims”. See #25.

    If you want to say natives were subjected to the illegitimate war crime of forced conversion to Islam…. OK.

    What is your proposal to:
    — Send home 100% of the invasive, non-native Islam?
    — Allow the descendants of victims of forced conversion to stay?

    There may be a some voluntary, genuine conversions away from Violent Islam. But, it is unlikely to be a significant fraction of the non-native Muslim, colonial occupiers. And, any hope for peace rests on ending the Muslim occupation of non-Muslim lands.

    PEACE 😷

  29. anarchyst says:
    @A123

    There is a big difference…

    Saudi Arabia is a closed society, not unlike the potentates of old. In order to travel to Saudi Arabia an invitation is required, either from a “royal family” member or someone with influence who needs a person with a specific skill set or expertise. Tourist visas are seldom issued to non-muslims.

    Israel brags about being an “open society” but practices “jewish supremacism” to the nth degree. While Saudi Arabia’s “discrimination” is overt and easily observed, Israel’s “discrimination” is carefully “covered up” when hapless, duped “Christian zionist” groups take their American taxpayer-funded junkets to Israel.

  30. In Jabaliya, one of eight refugee camps in the enclave, there are 115,000 people packed together in little more than a square kilometre

    The ballooning population of Palestine – it’s the world’s slowest moving genocide.

  31. Sometimes I honestly wish the three Abrahamic religions never existed. All three have a history soaked in blood, especially the blood of innocents. And the madness continues today.

    A certain Pat Condell did a video on Youtube titled ‘God the Psycho’, in which he called Abraham a ‘stupid idiot’. Dare I say it: I agree.

  32. @Max Payne

    “I like how the first-world is pissing itself over this thing and the third-world is like “whatever man… shit….”..”

    Don’t forget the US has an enormous “internal third world” which I’m just barely floating on the top of. I have a bicycle, and sleep under a roof, after all. And I went through the nightmare of trying to access medicare care in the US as a poor person last year. For all I know I’m ridin’ with the Rona as I type. I’ve been fighting a light “bug” and am coughing a little stuff from my lungs. But for the poor, there’s no testing in the US so I’ll probably never know.

    But seriously, the situation in Gaza is the same as if some American large city took an area and fenced it off and said to the blacks, “Here, this is yours, we won’t bother you, and we’re sick of your crime so don’t you bother us!”.

    Take a bunch of Japanese and stick ’em in an area and you get civilization. In fact, the internment camps in the US had every aspect of advanced culture and people were building cameras and microscopes and stuff.

    I mean I was bit by a dog once, and I’m still not mad at the dog necessarily, since he was inbred and a bit crazy and it turned out he bit a few too many people so they put him down. You can’t change the dog, and you can’t take it *too* personally if that’s just what the dog does, but you sure make sure to put the dog down.

  33. @A123

    Putting a smiling emoticon after your bile does make it more palatable.

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