In this article I argue that while the COVID-19 outbreak is at its early stages in the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian coastal enclave is particularly vulnerable to its effects – not least due to the multiplicity of existing development challenges that have resulted from an ongoing Israeli and Egyptian-imposed blockade. With the economy at a standstill, the Palestinian governing authority has limited financial resources to (re)build key sanitation, hygiene, waste treatment and water supply infrastructure. These (infrastructural) inadequacies, while already a public health concern before the onset of the pandemic, now renders Gaza particularly vulnerable to the spread of viruses and diseases. Additionally, the limited movement of goods because of the siege has led to an acute shortage of medical supplies and equipment that are essential for combating a pandemic. Nonetheless, the COVID-19 outbreak is also “unique” in that it presents Gaza with a crisis that has little to do with the hostilities that define the politics of Israel-Palestine. Yet, the potential of a widespread outbreak also lays bare to the development challenges that Gaza faces as a result of the conflict. This, I conclude, provides an opportunity for the donor community to, under pretext of combating the pandemic, remedy some of the consequences of the conflict and siege without having to contend with the (political) stigma of doing so.
Bibliographical noteThis article is temporarily accessible from Elsevier's Public Health Emergency Collection during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Gaza strip
- Middle East
- Public Health