Written by Muneeb Abu-Ghazaleh, Country Director of Islamic Relief in the Occupied Palestinian Territories
The Covid-19 crisis is like a snowball that keeps expanding. I worry it may become an avalanche that engulfs us all, warns Muneeb Abu-Ghazaleh, Country Director of Islamic Relief in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
The blockade on Gaza has caused much suffering over the years, but it had one unexpected benefit: it helped keep coronavirus out – until a few days ago. People with symptoms were taken straight from the entry gates into quarantine, and this meant cases were contained within the quarantine centres.
“It turns out that the blockade does have a benefit,” people remarked sarcastically. Sadly Gazans no longer have even that slim comfort now. At about 8pm on Monday 24 August, I heard the news that four Covid-19 cases had been found outside of the quarantine centres.
The whole Strip panicked.
Expecting lockdown, many people rushed to grocery stores and bakeries to buy food. At 11pm a 48-hour curfew was announced. Some people were able to get the supplies they needed before the shops were forced to close, and some were not. I was one of the unlucky ones. I went to the supermarket where I usually go to buy bread daily; shelves were empty. I then went to a bakery to find a long queue outside. I went to a second and third one; all the same. I decided to buy wheat and make bread at home.
Despite the warnings and stories we read from all over the world, we were still caught out when Gaza locked down. God only knows how long it will continue.