Gaza registers 69 new virus infections
Gaza’s virus count now rose to 356 cases, including 4 deaths
GAZA CITY, Palestine
Palestinian health authorities reported 69 new infections from the coronavirus in the blockaded Gaza Strip on Monday.
In a statement, the Health Ministry said the territory’s virus count rose to 356 confirmed cases, including four deaths, and 72 recoveries.
“The number of active cases in Gaza has reached 280,” the ministry said, going on to call on residents to pursue social distancing to help stem the spread of the virus.
The ministry warned of a shortage of necessary medical supplies to curb the virus outbreak due to the 14-year Israeli blockade on the strip.
Israel must immediately allow entry of fuel and other essential items into Gaza; Hamas must end actions risking further destabilization
Statement by Humanitarian Coordinator Jamie McGoldrick
Jerusalem, 31 August 2020
The deterioration witnessed in recent weeks in the Gaza Strip is of grave concern. In the context of an escalation of hostilities with Palestinian armed groups launching projectiles into Israel, Israel has limited the transfer of certain goods into the blockaded coastal enclave, reduced the permissible fishing area and prevented fuel deliveries, including the UN-facilitated fuel for Gaza’s sole Power Plant. As a result, the Gaza Power Plant ceased operations on 18 August, sharply reducing electricity provision to nearly 2 million Palestinians.
In addition, and marking a significant deterioration in the health situation, on 24 August, the first cases of COVID-19 outside the quarantine facilities were confirmed. Thus far, there are 280 known active cases, 243 of which are from community transmission.
At present, people have access to rolling electricity supply for a maximum of four hours per day, a difficult situation at any point, but especially serious given efforts to contain the outbreak of COVID-19. The situation is hindering the provision of services in the quarantine facilities and the capacity of the health system to cope with the increased demands, such as the ability to detect new COVID-19 cases. Power outages in hospitals are having serious repercussions, with patients in intensive care, chronic and emergency cases particularly vulnerable.
The reduction in electricity supply is also severely undermining other critical infrastructure, including the operations of all water wells, sewage pumping stations, wastewater treatment plants, and some desalination plants. The supply of clean water and wastewater treatment is impacted. There is now a high risk of sewage flooding populated areas, increased pollution into the Mediterranean Sea and along the coast, and further pollution to the aquifer.
The humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip is already dire, following 13 years of Israeli blockade and internal Palestinian political division, alongside recurrent hostilities. Swift action is required to alleviate the humanitarian situation, prevent further deterioration and increase respect for international humanitarian law and international human rights law.
In the context of this rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation, I call on Israel to immediately allow the resumption of fuel into the Gaza Strip, in line with its obligations as an occupying power, to ensure that the basic needs of people are met and to prevent a collapse of basic services.
I call on the Hamas authorities to cease and prevent the launching of incendiary balloons, rockets and other actions that risk further destabilizing the situation.
All parties must show utmost restraint and act to protect civilians, with full respect for their dignity and human rights.
For more information, please contact: Mr. Ofir Feuerstein: +972 54 33 11 836, firstname.lastname@example.org
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Permission to Narrate a Pandemic In Palestine | Middle East Policy Council https://mepc.org/journal/permission-narrate-pandemic-palestine
ICHR and Civil Society Calls for Ending the Closure on Gaza and Taking Immediate Action to Save Lives amid COVID-19 Outbreak
The Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council (PHROC), the Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations Network (PNGO), and the Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) urge the international community to intervene and support the civilian population in the Gaza Strip as it faces a potential humanitarian catastrophe.
Two million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are desperately combatting an unprecedented COVID-19 outbreak within the general population, amid Israel’s incessant restrictive measures and a severely depleted healthcare system. Earlier in August, the Israeli authorities tightened its illegal, 14-year closure on Gaza by banning the entry of most goods via Kerem Shalom commercial crossing, including fuel, and decreasing the fishing zone from 15 to eight nautical miles, before completely banning fishing activities.
The most alarming repercussion of Israel’s recent punitive policies is the severe shortage in power supply due to lack of sufficient fuel for the Gaza Electricity Distribution Corporation (GEDC) to run the Strip’s sole power plant. The crisis not only compounds the suffering of Gaza’s residents—who are provided with only four hours of power daily—but also hinders the provision of basic services across crucial sectors, such as water and sanitation. The chronic water shortage in residential buildings is expected to worsen, and raw sewage may be pumped into the sea, raising additional concerns about the population’s health.
On 24 August 2020, the local authorities placed the Gaza Strip under a complete, 48-hour lockdown following the first positive COVID-19 cases to be detected within the general population. Field data indicates that the medical sector is severely underequipped to deal with a pandemic spreading throughout the population. Alarmingly, there are only 110 beds in Gaza’s intensive care units (ICU), with 78 of them in public hospitals, seven in military clinics, 12 in non-profit medical institutions, and 13 in private hospitals. Critically, 72 percent of the ICU beds in public hospitals are currently occupied. Further, only 93 ventilators in all medical facilities combined are operable. The authorities might prioritize using the available resources to treat coronavirus cases, which would significantly undermine other patients’ access to healthcare, unless the international community intervened.
Movement restrictions have been imposed, separating the five districts of the Gaza Strip. Although such measures proved effective in the early stages of the outbreak, they have exacerbated the dire socioeconomic conditions in Gaza, as breadwinners are confined to their homes, thus undermining the financial stability of more than half of Gaza’s population and increasing the likelihood of reliance on food aid. It is estimated that more than half of the population in Gaza live in poverty, with almost 62.2 percent of families struggling to obtain food on a daily basis.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the World Health Organization have long warned of a looming humanitarian catastrophe in the Gaza Strip should Israel continue to impose its closure in deviation of international law. Israel’s recent, additional collective punishment policies, as well as the alarming coronavirus outbreak, are set to aggravate this catastrophe.
We are encouraged by the remarkable efforts exerted by the Ministry of Health and all other governmental sectors to contain the viral outbreak despite the state of the under-resourced health sector, and call on all residents of Gaza to comply with the safety and preventive measures put in place. We also call on the competent authorities to mobilize support for those who have lost their jobs due to the lockdown.
We welcome the Palestinian Authority’s plans to send a delegation to the Gaza Strip and highly appreciate the medical aid it has been providing. In this regard, we strongly urge the Palestinian Authority to fulfil its obligations towards the population in Gaza, including by putting an end to the “financial” retirement of Gaza’s public servants.
We similarly call on the concerned agencies, NGOs and international bodies to mobilize support for residents of the Gaza Strip, to urgently ramp up supplies of medical equipment and ventilators, and to exert pressure on Israel, the occupying power, to immediately and unconditionally lift the blockade and closure.
Mahmoud Al Afranji
Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council
Cell-phone: +970 59 9308 666
Tel: +970 2 2954646
Fax: +970 2 2954903
أُنشيء مجلس منظمات حقوق الإنسان الفلسطينية لتنسيق عمل مؤسسات حقوق الإنسان ذات الاهتمام والرؤية المشتركة، وتعزيز حقوق الإنسان وحرياته الأساسية ومبدأ سيادة القانون في الأرض الفلسطينية المحتلة.
The Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council was established to enable Palestinian human rights NGOs to act collectively to serve a common goal; promoting human rights and the role of law in the occupied Palestinian territory.