If Not Now, March 20,2020
We have an opportunity to save thousands of lives — if we act now.
As the coronavirus pandemic sweeps our country and the world, I am watching everyday people do what is necessary — in the vacuum left by our government’s failure — to help their communities. My friends are joining mutual aid networks and others are fundraising so the most vulnerable are financially stable.
But our obligation to one another does not stop at the border.
If we do not act now, Palestinians living under blockade in Gaza will suffer incredible losses from COVID-19. For 15 years, the Israeli government has blockaded 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza, restricting their access to crucial resources, including medical supplies. And Israel’s regular military assaults have decimated much of Gaza’s public infrastructure.
That is why I’m asking you to demand that the Israeli government live up to its legal and moral obligation as the occupying party and protect Palestinians in Gaza by lifting the blockade on Gaza and immediately delivering medical supplies — such as Coronavirus test kits, ventilation equipment, and medical masks — to Gaza.
Currently, 1.8 million Palestinians live in the 141 square miles that comprise the Gaza Strip (roughly the size of Detroit). Though Hamas governs Gaza internally, Israel is still the effective occupying power because Israel’s military controls the land, sea, and air of Gaza. The blockade on Gaza has been inhumane for over a decade, but to refuse to lift it during a global health pandemic is immoral, outrageous, and unforgettable.
And, with one of the highest population densities in the world and few medical resources, Gaza is one step away from a public health disaster. Those 1.8 million people only have access to enough COVID-19 test kits for 190 people, meaning only 1 in every 9473 Palestinians there can be tested. Additionally, there are just 20 available ventilation devices in all of Gaza — just 1 ventilation device for every 90,000 Palestinians there.
Palestinians in Gaza must now weather the coronavirus in addition to the punishing, 15-year-long Israeli blockade of the coastal enclave. The international community has ignored the humanitarian crisis facing Palestinians in Gaza for too long. Rather than waiting to react to the coronavirus hitting Gaza, we must be proactive.
Failing to do so will result in thousands of deaths, and the blame will lay squarely with the Israeli government.
Stay safe and stay in solidarity,