Palestine-Gaza, ever presently occupied by Israel, faces rising cases and concerning limits about their healthcare system. The territory, which has seen a sea, land, and air blockade from Israel and Egypt since 2007 when the Islamic group Hamas came into power through legislative elections, lies separated from its sister territory by Israel.
This blockade was cause for concern since the very beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. According to the United Nations, the types of items prevented or limited to pass through the Gaza border include things such as food or certain levels of electricity and are all subject to higher tariff rates. On top of that, Dana Moss from the Lancet Global Health says that “The separation between East Jerusalem, Gaza, and the West Bank, and the restrictions that Israel imposes on the freedom of movement of patients, medical equipment, and health-care personnel, structurally impedes the proper functioning of the Palestinian health-care system”. These air, land, and sea barricades from Israel and Egypt are directly harmfully impacting the Palestinian people’s right to healthcare. It’s nearly impossible for supplies to be moved between regions without Israel’s hostile and expensive trade processes.
Within the past reporting period, as of December 2, 2020, Coronavirus cases have risen in Palestine. As of yet, the medical facilities have dealt with these rises as best as they can, but there is an alarming feeling among medical professionals that these facilities will soon be overwhelmed. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) is currently also facing a financial crisis and is struggling to meet the funding gap of $114 million. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), “The Gaza Strip, with 13,000 employees, will be the most affected across the Agency’s five fields of operations in the Middle East”. Funds for medical equipment and doctor salaries are running dry and putting pressure on hospitals that are already looking grim at the prospect of rising cases.
This struggle is the result of a militaristic activity and policies that have been put in place in this region for well over a decade, with absolutely no signs of stopping. The Hamas government, although with their own criticisms, is essentially unable to help its people. Since the announcement of the vaccine for Covid-19, Germany has made public their plans to include Israel in their European Union vaccine program but failed to mention Palestine at all. As for Israel itself, they are thankfully offering some type of vaccine relief in each of their deals. The Palestine Authority’s Health Ministry stated that “In every agreement signed by Israel with vaccine companies, a certain percentage of the vaccines will be set aside for the PA and Gaza Strip”. In total, it would be about three or four million vaccines that would be parted for Palestinian territories including the Gaza strip. Even so, there would still be a shortage of millions to vaccinate each and every Palestinian resident.
The world is experiencing times that are completely unprecedented, and those states that were always originally living in the margins of the eyes of the world are being even further pushed into darkness. Coupled with the clashes with its’ surrounding state and suffocating blockades, Palestine is at risk of shrinking even further into obscurity on an international level.