Second wave of coronavirus surges in the Gaza Strip

May 1, 2021

After a short-lived fall in the number of patients with COVID-19 in February, the Gaza Strip is experiencing a second wave of coronavirus infections and deaths throughout the territory. In the past 24 hours, 723 new COVID-19 cases were recorded. 

Since the start of the pandemic, more than 100,405 people in Gaza have been infected with COVID-19, with at least 884 deaths recorded. 

Gaza’s Interior Ministry announced new lockdown measures dedicated to lessening the impact of the surge after recording Gaza’s first cases of the new, more-contagious strains of the coronavirus. A new nighttime curfew has been imposed throughout Gaza from 9 PM until 6 AM, closing most places of business to slow the spread of the virus. Schools have remained open during this time, but restrictions have also been placed on wedding parties and other celebratory activities.

While Israel has received praise on the international stage for a rapid and thorough vaccination campaign, the occupied territories have not been afforded similar rates of inoculation against the coronavirus. Israel vaccinates its citizens, as well as settlers living in occupied territories, without providing vaccinations to those living in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. A large majority of the vaccinations provided to the Gaza Strip have been donated by other countries and foreign aid organizations, including the United Nations.

As of April 6th, the Palestinian Minister of Health Mai Alkaila reported 28,351 people have been vaccinated in the Gaza Strip, with most receiving the Russian Sputnik V vaccine.

According to The World Factbook, the Gaza Strip has a population of nearly two million, most of whom live in poverty. Given the restrictions on travel and the import of vaccines and health resources into Gaza due to the occupation, a second COVID-19 wave could prove to be exceedingly deadly.

The occupation of the Gaza Strip and Israel’s strict limitations on what is allowed to enter the territory is a sparsely discussed human rights violation. Widespread vaccination efforts that neglect a significant portion of the population that already struggles from a weakened health infrastructure are not an accomplishment worthy of praise, but rather a mark of shame. The global coronavirus pandemic will not be brought to an end through the preferential allocation of vaccines to those deemed worthy.