First 2 Coronavirus Cases Confirmed in Gaza
Palestinian health officials said on Sunday that the first two cases of COVID-19 have been diagnosed in the Gaza Strip. The two patients are both Palestinian men in their 30s who returned late on Saturday from Pakistan via Egypt. Both are in stable condition and are being held in quarantine in Rafah, on the Gaza-Egypt border, the Gaza Health Ministry said. An undisclosed number of people who were in contact with the men are also being quarantined. Over the past two weeks, public spaces such as markets, event halls, and schools have been shut throughout the strip – home to around 2 million Palestinians – to help prevent the spread of the virus. As of last week, Hamas, the de facto government in the strip, was only allowing residents to cross into Egypt or Israel for urgent medical care. Israel also closed its side of the border crossings with Gaza, allowing exceptions only for medical and humanitarian reasons. The Palestinian Health Ministry in the West Bank has confirmed 59 coronavirus cases, of which 17 patients have fully recovered. None are listed in serious or critical condition, and there have been no deaths from coronavirus in the Palestinian territories. In Israel, 945 coronavirus infections have been confirmed. One patient has died, 37 have fully recovered, and 20 are in serious or critical condition. One Gaza intellectual often identified with Hamas, Fayez Abu Shammala, called for a truce with Israel in light of the health crisis. “Since our Israeli enemy is sick with coronavirus, our Arab morals oblige us to make truce with them at this stage. Let’s be merciful even with our enemy,” he said in a March 13 tweet. A spokesman for the Israeli military, Brig. Gen. Hidai Zilberman, said on Army Radio on Sunday that “all the terrorist organizations” have “lowered their level of terrorist activity” due to the pandemic.