The Gaza Strip has faced massive destruction due to Israeli-led blockade since 2007. Israel controls all the entry and exit points of Gaza which it uses to restrict the movement of goods and people between Gaza and the outside world, effectively turning it into the “largest open-air prison” in the world. Gaza, as a result of the humanitarian crisis since the last 13 years is now one of the most densely populated yet the poorest spaces in the world. This has adversely impacted the delivery of public services, including healthcare service in Gaza strip. According to the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) sub-delegation to Gaza, Ignacio Casares, the health system in Gaza “is already overstretched, already at its limit,”. Daily power cuts and irregular electricity supply add on to this which forces Doctors to rely on generators during emergencies. This horrible condition was documented earlier as well in a 2017 UN Report which stated that the Gaza Strip would be “unlivable” by 2020.
The 13 years long blockade has forced the government as well as people living in Gaza to manage the harsh conditions with the meagre resource at their disposal. The WHO had pointed out in a report last year that all the patients and their companions were required to apply for Israeli permits to exit the Gaza Strip for accessing the hospitals in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Israel,". "Access has been particularly problematic in 2019, with the patient permit approval rate declining”.
People in Gaza strip are now battling the COVID-19 pandemic also with the help of simple whatever meagre resources at their disposal. The healthcare and other authorities understood that they would not be able to provide the hospitalization if the pandemic broke out, so they took some immediate steps to contain the COVID-19 from the early stage. The places of large public gathering like street markets, shops, shopping malls, wedding halls were ordered to lock down by State authorities. A senior official with the Hamas movement said at a news conference that officials were considering imposing a curfew. Using the traditional methods, the authorities built more than 1000 quarantine rooms in the Gaza Strip. Palestinian Ministry of Health states that quarantine centres are established in three places: Rafah, Deir Al-Balah, and Khan Younis. More than 1000 people who came from the Israel and Egypt borders were quarantined in schools, hotels, and hospitals.
With the increase in the number of cases, society started displaying anxiety and fear but it was overcome by mutual cooperation. The State of Palestine and its citizens has proved that the constraints cannot become an obstacle in dealing with the pandemic.