The past year and a half have been tough for everyone around the world. With the coronavirus pandemic, quarantining and staying away from our loved ones has taken a toll on the mental health of many; everyone I see has lost a loved one to this virus. But we forget that while the world was dealing with the pandemic, the people of Palestine have had to suffer on two frontiers, in a war with covid-19 and Israel.
It is no news that Palestine has been fighting a losing war with the Israelis since decades. Countless lives have been lost to the war and there is no sign of it stopping. We all have some knowledge of what has been happening between the two countries, social media and news have been overflowing with the Palestine and Israel conflict.
In recent news, the sole covid-19 testing lab of Palestine, present in Gaza was deemed (temporarily) inoperable due to an air strike carried out by Israel. The debris, shrapnel and smoke flew into the lab when a nearby building was struck by an airstrike. This damaged the Hamas-run Health Ministry lab and administrative offices.
The Covid-19 testing centre and lab had been vaccinating around 3,000 people every day, testing for coronavirus positive patients and also operating as a pharmacy. With this, almost all the activities in Palestine that worked to for the improvement of the covid-19 situation have come to a standstill. This news comes as a sad reminder of the ever-worsening situation of the Palestinian people.
“You are over 60 times more likely to have a vaccination in Israel than in Palestine.”
–Matthias Kennes, MSF Medical Advisor Palestine
The health condition of the country has been one of ruin. While Israel has vaccinated over 50% of its population, Palestinian people have been struggling with no means of rescue. The Hebron Governorate of Palestine was hit the worst, with over 16,000 covid positive cases and 150 deaths by September 2020. The country still has more than 4300 active cases amongst the 12 governorates.
“People who fear that an F-16 is going to drop bombs won’t get excited about the coronavirus,” a Gazan citizen said to Haaretz. “Nobody goes around with a mask and people gather at funerals. The fear is that missiles will fall or the ground will shake.”
It is evident that the Palestinian people find the threat of becoming coronavirus positive as the lesser evil in this situation. But with over 3000 deaths in the country and only 5.3% of the population vaccinated, what’s to say, what will become of the grief-stricken country whose people have only known war?