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Today was one of the worst days in Palestine since COVID-19 first hit

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The Latest:

  • 6,225 Palestinians have tested positive for COVID-19; 5,479 in the West Bank; 72 in the Gaza Strip; and 674 in East Jerusalem 
  • 30 Palestinians have died of COVID-19 related causes
  • 35,631 people in Israel have tested positive for COVID-19
  • 350 people in Israel have died from COVID-19 related causes

In one of the worst days since the coronavirus pandemic hit Palestine back in March, the Ministry Health recorded five deaths and at least 316 new cases in the occupied West Bank on Friday, July 10th. All five deaths were recorded in the Hebron district, the epicenter of the current outbreak, which has rapidly spread across the occupied territories over the past two weeks. 

The Palestinian government has struggled to curb the spread of this “second wave” of the virus, which is now dealing with at least 5,485 actives cases among Palestinians in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip. After weeks of enforcing small-scale shut downs in the West Bank, where the majority of cases in the oPt have been recorded, the Palestinian Authority finally instituted a five-day lockdown across the entire West Bank starting from July 3rd – 7th, shutting down all non-essential businesses and institutions, aside from supermarkets, pharmacies, and bakeries. 

On the evening of Tuesday, July 7th, the government said it would be extending the lockdown for another five days, noting that the situation in Hebron was “out of control.” PA spokesman Ibrahim Melhem said that in addition to supermarkets, bakeries, and pharmacies, banks will be allowed to operate “in line with emergency procedures,” and that the transportation of food products and agricultural produce between districts in the West Bank will also be allowed. 

Palestinian police and security officials have tightened their restrictions on movement in recent days, primarily at points connecting cities and villages with one another. Police are also fining people for not wearing masks in public.

Palestinian laborers wearing masks queue to enter Israel through the Mitar checkpoint in the West Bank city of Hebron on June 28, 2020. (Photo: Mosab Shawer/APA Images)
Palestinian laborers wearing masks queue to enter Israel through the Mitar checkpoint in the West Bank city of Hebron on June 28, 2020. (Photo: Mosab Shawer/APA Images)

Palestinian laborers wearing masks queue to enter Israel through the Mitar checkpoint in the West Bank city of Hebron on June 28, 2020. (Photo: Mosab Shawer/APA Images)

Gaza Diaries

Today we published a very interesting look into the life of three Palestinians in Gaza – an engineer, a doctor, and a fashion designer – who shared diaries with us about how the coronavirus has impacted their life.

Ibrahim Al-Nabulsieh’s diary is especially interesting as he was called away from his family in April to work at the Rafah Crossing Field Hospital, a special hospital set up for care for COVID-19 patients. Here is one harrowing entry:

Tuesday, April 21

My first face-to-face encounter with COVID-19 patients was today. Four new cases entered the hospital. It was my first encounter with the patients. My first interaction was with three cases at one time. I felt a great dread in the place, and the matter was further increased by a blackout of the electricity for a minute until the generator was operational. In that minute I felt great fear. I will never forget this minute in my life.

The Israeli siege imposed on the Gaza Strip since 2006 prevented the construction of a high efficiency field hospital. This hospital, which was composed of large tents, and some “barracks” where the sun of the day was burning, and the cold of the night was severe. But our goal was higher and greater than all these obstacles, and the safety and security of our people, avoiding this dangerous pandemic was our supreme mission.

You can read all of the diary entries here.

Links of Interest

  • COVID-19 and the Destructive Force of Privatized Healthcare in Lebanon (Progressive International)
  • First COVID-19 case in North West Syria: Fears of rapid outbreak in this densely populated area (Save the Children)