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NOAH BRADSHAW: A two-sided coin

Israel, Gaza and covid-19 by NOAH BRADSHAW | July 6, 2020 at 3:40 a.m.

Throughout the covid-19 ordeal there has been a silver lining: the cooperation and assistance between Israelis and Palestinians during this ordeal. Mutual cooperation has been primarily focused within the territories in Judea and Samaria; however, Israeli humanitarian and medical aid to the Gaza Strip has been consistent on a weekly basis and vital to the overall low number of reported cases within the territory.

Israel critics have capitalized on the corona pandemic to argue a widely pushed falsehood that Israel is withholding vital medical aid from Gaza. The anti-Israel organization National Students for Justice in Palestine has used every opportunity to spread lies cleverly masked in emotional posts about the dire circumstances of many Gazans. For example, a recent Facebook post made the following claim:

"Gaza struggles immensely with the exponential rise of cases during this covid pandemic. With the lack of medical resources, services and personnel because of the unconscionable blockade, the situation in the Gaza Strip is severe. In Gaza, there are currently three ventilators for every 100,000 people of the population. Without access to proper medical care, the people in Gaza are also restricted to travel for needed treatment. Coupled with the scarcity of resources is the region's dense population which can accelerate the spread of the virus. This catastrophe will not stand. We are pressuring our representatives to stop funding Israel's blockade on Gaza and instead invest in health care for all. #DefundGazaBlockade #HealthcareForAll"

The reality is that not everything in that post is a lie. The health-care system in Gaza faces serious challenges: It has shortages, and a high population density could promote rapid spreading of covid-19. However, this is true of many places, and even developed nations have seen mass strife and shortages. In reality, a crisis in Gaza so far has been all but averted, a scenario that can be almost entirely chalked up to Israel policy. Strict border control has limited covid-19 travel in and out, and large-scale donations of health-care equipment has allowed the few cases in Gaza to be successfully controlled.

The false information promulgated by anti-Israel groups goes on and on. For example, another notorious anti-Israel group, Jewish Voice for Peace, tweeted out on April 24 that "The IDF has now fully stopped testing for Gaza after first allowing only 200 kits in. This is a health disaster for the entrapped Palestinians of Gaza."

It is as if these groups willfully ignore facts to defame Jews in Israel just to push their cause. Jewish Voice for Peace could not be more wrong; there is no evidence Israel has deliberately prevented testing in the Gaza Strip. A WHO report covering covid-19 in the territories from April 23 supports this. The report shows that at that time close to 4,500 tests had taken place in Gaza with no mention of any prevention by Israel.

These worrisome claims are not rooted in a desire to help the Gazans, but out of a desire to cause political strife to Israel under the auspices of a humanitarian cause.

The reality is that Israel sends thousands of pounds of medical supplies into Gaza every week of the year. Due to the corona pandemic, medical supply deliveries have been increased. In the first two weeks of May alone, Israel sent 478 tons (956,000 pounds) of medical supplies into Gaza.

Even the notoriously unfriendly United Nations has praised Israel's efforts in Gaza, saying, "Since the beginning of the crisis, Israel has allowed the entry of critical supplies and equipment into Gaza: Examples of critical supplies include swabs for collection of samples and other laboratory supplies required for covid-19 testing, and Personal Protective Equipment to protect health workers."

These numbers from early April are not unique, and are accurate representations of the aid given by Israel to Gaza on a regular basis.

With that cleared up, the reality of the two-sided coin can be addressed. Israel does share some burden of the responsibility regarding Gazans, but so does Hamas, the elected government in Gaza.

Hamas leaders are still privately caching billions of dollars away for personal use. Hamas continues to misuse millions of dollars of international aid intended for humanitarian purposes, fund terror programs, and launch rockets at Israeli civilians. Hamas spends around $100 million a year alone on terrorist infrastructure.

There is no logical explanation that would account for Israel withholding vital covid-19 medical supplies for the Gazan people. A fully collapsed health-care system in Gaza could mean a mass-scale march onto the security border by infected Gazans or a serious rocket barrage by a desperate Hamas. Israel is aware of this and knows that keeping the caseload low and manageable in Gaza is critical for security and stability.


Noah Bradshaw served as a fellow for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) at the University of Arkansas. The opinions expressed are his.


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