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Israel Says It’s Helping Gaza as COVID-19 Cases Surge


JERUSALEM, Israel - Israel says it is working with international organizations to help the Gaza Strip obtain the medical equipment and supplies it needs to fight the spread of COVID-19.

Lt. Col. Elad Goren, Head of the Civil Department of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) in the Israel Defence Forces said during the first wave, Israel worked hand-in-hand with the Palestinian Authority and international community “in order to assist and prevent the spread of the virus by coordinating thousands of testing kits and protective items for the use of medical teams, coordinated joint training for Israeli and Palestinian medical teams and share information necessary to reduce the morbidity.”

Ruled by Hamas and under the Palestinian Authority, the tiny seaside enclave is home to some two million people. Hamas regularly fires rockets at Israeli communities around the Gaza Strip. 

Israel and Egypt have enforced a blockade on Gaza but goods and people flow in and out.

“Thousands of trucks, carrying medical equipment were also coordinated into the Palestinian territories. Moreover, we worked and coordinated with the Palestinian security forces in order for them to move and operate efficiently inside the West Bank and in the territories,” Goren told journalists during an online briefing.

Gaza has seen a spike in cases of the virus recently. There are some 9,500 active cases, with an average of 741 cases a day diagnosed during the last week. An average of 2,665 tests were carried out each day last week. Of those being tested more than 28 percent are testing positive. More than 100 Gazans have died.

Several Hamas leaders have also contracted the virus. The most recent is Yahya Sinwar, a former Israeli security prisoner. 

After the first wave of COVID, the PA leadership stopped its coordination with Israel and only now is restoring it. Nevertheless, Israel sought for ways to continue to assist Gazans.

Even before COVID, thousands of Palestinians crossed into Israel each day for medical treatments at hospitals. Israel sought to continue that help, though most Palestinians with COVID-19 are being treated in Palestinian areas. 

“We are not preventing any medical assistance, not to the West Bank and not to Gaza and we are encouraging the international community and all organizations to assist the Palestinians in their challenge to deal with the COVID-19,” said Goren.

Goren said Israel has been working with the international community, especially the United Nations during the last few months. 

The UN published an emergency plan to assist the Palestinians with a budget of some $72 million. Only about half of it has been covered.

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