By Bassam Tawil, Gatestone Institute—
After the discovery of the first coronavirus cases in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Authority (PA) is ignoring appeals to lift a series of sanctions it imposed on the two million Palestinians living there. Actually, the PA leadership has done virtually nothing to help the Gaza Strip confront the coronavirus pandemic. Ironically, the only country that has been helping the Gaza Strip in the past few weeks is Israel.
The question is, why is the PA ignoring calls to help the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip in their effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus? One explanation — that accords with history — is that if a large number of Palestinians living in Gaza there are infected with the disease and there is a huge catastrophe there, the PA leadership wants the world to blame Israel.
The Palestinian Authority has a long record of hiding its own responsibility for the suffering of its people, and instead blaming Israel for the woes of the Gaza Strip.
The moment that the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health announced the first coronavirus cases in the Gaza Strip on March 22, several international media outlets began talking about Israel’s responsibility for the safety and health of the Palestinians there, even though there has not been a single Jew living in Gaza since they all left the entire area in 2005.
The United Nations, nevertheless, is also trying to pave the way for holding Israel responsible for the possible spread of the virus in the Gaza Strip. A senior UN official, Jamie McGoldrick, warned that a possible outbreak of the virus in the Gaza Strip “can be terrible due to the long-term blockade, over-population, and limited health facilities” there.
It is important to emphasize that there is no Israeli “siege” on the Gaza Strip. First, the Gaza Strip shares borders not only with Israel, but also with Egypt. It is Egypt, not Israel, that controls the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, and that is effectively blockading Gaza.
In addition, all goods from Israel are allowed to enter the Gaza Strip except for weapons and a short list of dual-use items that could be used by terrorists to attack Israelis. The ban on weapons and the restrictions on dual-use items stems from the fact that, since 2007, the Gaza Strip has been ruled by a terrorist organization, Hamas, whose declared aim is the destruction of Israel, and that has a track record of using, for example, cement, sent for building and repairing homes, instead to construct cross-border tunnels for terrorists to attack Israel.
“Not only do food, medicine, fuel and aid enter freely at all times, but in peacetime, commodities and consumer goods of every type are transferred daily from Israel to the Gaza Strip through the land crossing,” the Israeli Foreign Ministry noted. “A December 2104 report by the PA and the UN provides statistics on life in the Gaza Strip. According to the report, 93.6% of the Gaza Strip’s households own a satellite dish, 93.2% own a washing machine, 90% a refrigerator and 88.2% a television.”
As for Israel’s maritime blockade on the Gaza Strip, the UN has determined that, under international law, it is legal. Continue Reading….