Under Lockdown and Occupation, Palestinians Fear a COVID-19 Catastrophe

Under Lockdown and Occupation, Palestinians Fear a COVID-19 Catastrophe
Palestinian health workers spray disinfectant in a residential area to try and limit the spread of the coronavirus, in Khan Yunis, Gaza Strip, April 9, 2020 (Photo by Yousef Masoud for Sipa via AP Images).

RAMALLAH, West Bank—The coronavirus came quietly to Gaza on March 21. Two residents who had returned from Pakistan via the Rafah border crossing with Egypt were diagnosed with COVID-19, sending waves of shock and fear across the Palestinian territories.

The outbreak started out small in the West Bank, as well. Seven Palestinians who had interacted with a group of tourists visiting Bethlehem on March 5 were confirmed to have the novel coronavirus. Authorities quickly scrambled to implement a containment strategy for Jesus’ biblical birthplace, and imposed a lockdown on the entirety of the West Bank on March 22. Movement between cities, villages and refugee camps was banned except in medical emergencies. As of April 10, there were 263 Palestinians infected with the virus, 40 of whom are children, according to a Palestinian government spokesperson.

Neighboring Israel, which has its own lockdown in place to deal with the virus, has provided the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority with test kits and access to labs for much-needed testing. Although Israelis and Palestinians have not held direct peace talks since the Obama administration, the threat of a pandemic has forced them to set some of their differences aside for now. But beyond that, not much has changed on the ground.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.