Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates strongly condemned latest remarks by the Israeli minister of military affairs, Naftali Bennett, who linked any assistance it might offer for the Gaza Strip’s efforts against coronavirus to progress in its attempt to recover two Israeli soldiers lost during the 2014 war against the Palestinian enclave.
The ministry, in a statement, denounced the remarks as cheap blackmail especially as they have been made at a time when the coronavirus pandemic is affecting the entire world.
Such a stance by Israeli authorities is nothing new as their actions and behavior towards the Palestinian nation are driven by racism and malice, the statement noted.
It added that Naftali’s remarks truly represented the Israeli regime’s bids to undermine Palestinian efforts to battle the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The Palestinian foreign ministry then slammed Israeli officials’ continued dumping of Palestinian workers suspected to have contracted the virus at West Bank checkpoints. It also hit out at the Israeli Prison Service for its failure to take essential precautionary measures and to provide Palestinian prisoners with necessary hygiene materials amid rising cases of COVID-19 infections in the occupied territories.
The ministry held Israel fully responsible for the dire repercussions of the siege on the well-being of the Gaza population, calling on the international community to intervene to help the Palestinian enclave access the medical supplies it needs to battle the deadly coronavirus.
On 26 march the Palestinian Health Ministry in the Gaza Strip has called on the international community to put pressure on the Israel regime to lift its ongoing land, air, and sea blockade so that the impoverished coastal sliver can cope with cases of coronavirus infection.
“We raise our voice and ask the whole world to help lift the siege on Gaza to enable it to face the coronavirus pandemic,” Yousef Abu al-Rish, a health ministry official in Gaza, announced in a statement late on Sunday.
He reassured the Gazans that only two cases of the disease were reported, emphasizing that medical teams are fully prepared to deal with the cases.
Palestinian officials have announced the first two cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the highly contagious new coronavirus, in the besieged Gaza Strip.
The United Nations has warned against the frightening consequences of coronavirus in the Gaza Strip in the wake of 13 years of Israeli-imposed blockade on the territory.
Jamie McGoldrick, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for occupied Palestinian territory, said on March 22 that the COVID-19 outbreak in Gaza can be terrible due to the long-term blockade, overpopulation, and limited health facilities there.
The top UN health official pointed to the weak and insufficient health care system in the Gaza Strip, saying the world body is in contact with the Palestinian administration and the World Health Organization over the improvement of the health system.
He said that they are working with international donors on a project with a $7 million budget to meet Gaza’s urgent need for humanitarian aid for the next two months.
Gaza has been under Israeli siege since June 2007, which has caused a decline in living standards.
Israel has also launched three major wars against the enclave since 2008, killing thousands of Gazans and shattering the impoverished territory’s already poor infrastructure.