Covid-19 in Gaza

 

Sir, – As the first cases of Covid-19 have been identified in the besieged Palestinian territory of Gaza, we at Gaza Action Ireland call on Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney to demand that Israel lifts the siege on Gaza and that he pushes fellow EU foreign ministers to do the same.

We also ask that the Government commits to ensuring the passage of the Occupied Territories Bill into law.

While coronavirus poses a threat to populations everywhere, the people in Gaza are especially vulnerable due to Israel’s decades-long siege. Most of Gaza’s two million people live in crowded conditions, with little chance of social distancing and no opportunity to escape. The health system in Gaza is already in a state of collapse due to the blockade and does not have the capacity to cope with the clinical demands that coronavirus brings.

Electricity supplies in Gaza are limited to less than half the day, aquifer water is 96 per cent undrinkable, and enforced poverty means that families are often unable to buy water.

Palestinians in Gaza who need medical care they can’t access in the Strip are already at the mercy of Israel for permission to travel for treatment, with thousands of such requests ignored or rejected.

The World Health Organisation has warned that the health system in Gaza will not have the capacity to cope with a coronavirus outbreak.

The potential for an even bigger humanitarian disaster in Gaza now looms large and it is unconscionable that the people there will be further abandoned by the international community in this global crisis.

According to international humanitarian and human rights law, as the occupying power Israel is obliged to ensure the health of the people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Gaza – an obligation that state flagrantly breaches.

It is also the responsibility of states such as Ireland to hold Israel accountable for its breaches of international law.

This pandemic lays bare the vulnerability of the people in Gaza.

The illegal, immoral siege imposed by Israel must end, otherwise this is a death sentence for the people there.

Gaza Action Ireland reiterates our support for the Palestinian civil-society call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) on Israel for freedom and justice for Palestine.

We call for an immediate lifting of the blockade on Gaza, for medical supplies to be allowed in, and for support for the health workers there. We send all our solidarity to our sisters and brothers in Gaza – we will keep trying our best to support their struggle for justice.– Yours, etc,

ZOË LAWLOR,

Coordinator,

Gaza Action Ireland,

Limerick.