Gaza plans new lockdown amid rising coronavirus cases

Authorities in the Gaza Strip are planning a new lockdown as coronavirus infections skyrocket, Hamas officials told Fox News. 

The Palestinian health ministry reported 735 new coronavirus cases in Gaza on Wednesday, bringing the total to 22,209 since the outbreak began earlier this year.

“The capacity of the health facilities is exhausted because of the long-standing Israeli siege and because of the inability to cope with the increasing number of positive cases,” said senior Hamas official Dr. Basem Naim. 

A student walks past a mural encouraging the wearing of face masks amid the coronavirus pandemic, on the main road of Nusseirat refugee camp, central Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. Arabic message reads: "Protect yourself." (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

A student walks past a mural encouraging the wearing of face masks amid the coronavirus pandemic, on the main road of Nusseirat refugee camp, central Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. Arabic message reads: “Protect yourself.” (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

Hamas said medical teams are in need of ventilators, extra beds, PPE kits, and PCR tests. Analysts believe the nearly 2 million residents of Gaza have less than a week before hospitals are completely overwhelmed.

WHAT IS THE GAZA STRIP?

According to COGAT, the Israeli government agency that facilitates transfers into Gaza, aid has continued amid the pandemic. The Israeli government says the United Nations and other aid organizations still have further to go when implementing emergency COVID-19 plans for Gaza.

“The UN aid plan is a significant factor in the assistance provided to the Gaza Strip. However, it hasn’t yet been completed,” a COGAT spokesperson said.

Since March, some 700 trucks have entered Gaza with 6,000 tons of medical equipment, according to COGAT.

There are currently 11 PCR testing machines in Gaza, though, with limited kits, only people displaying clear symptoms are able to be checked. This makes it difficult to get a full understanding of how bad the outbreak is in Gaza and has led to a 30% positivity rate in testing. 

Israeli demonstrators hold masks depicting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, right, during a protest against a parliamentary vote to dissolve the Knesset and send the country to its fourth elections in two years while it still hasn't approved a national budget for 2020, in Tel Aviv, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

Israeli demonstrators hold masks depicting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, right, during a protest against a parliamentary vote to dissolve the Knesset and send the country to its fourth elections in two years while it still hasn’t approved a national budget for 2020, in Tel Aviv, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

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Yahya Sinwar, the leader of Hamas in Gaza, tested positive this week and is reportedly in stable condition. 

Hamas has made clear they are willing to do whatever it takes to get medical supplies for the people of Gaza. This includes military options like firing rockets. 

The Israeli military said Hamas has fired more than 160 rockets this year towards the sea as they continue to test their technology and prepare for the next conflict with Israel.

Despite ongoing tension between Israelis and Palestinians, there is expected to be humanitarian coordination when a COVID-19 vaccine is available.

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“For Israel, it is a common interest to prevent the spread of the disease beyond the border – therefore, Israel enables and assists the international community to support the Palestinians in dealing with the pandemic,” a COGAT spokesperson added.

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