On March 19, 2020 Mr. Michael Lynk, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, called on Israel to ensure proper steps are taken to protect the health and safety of Palestinians living in the occupied Palestinian territory and under Israeli control. He noted that under Article 56 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, Israel must ensure that all necessary preventative measures available are used to combat health crises. He went on to note the particular vulnerabilities of Gaza, saying:
“I am particularly worried about the potential impact of COVID-19 on Gaza. Its health care system was collapsing even before the pandemic. Its stocks of essential drugs are chronically low. Its natural sources of drinkable water are largely contaminated. Its electrical system provides sporadic power. Deep poverty amid appalling socio-economic conditions is prevalent throughout the Strip."
“Gaza’s population is also a physically more vulnerable population, with malnutrition on the rise, poorly controlled non-communicable diseases, dense living and housing conditions, an elderly population without access to proper nursing care and high smoking rates.
“A potential large-scale outbreak will also constitute another enormous strain on Gaza’s beleaguered health workers who have had to respond, with inadequate resources, to three large-scale military offensives in just over a decade and have had to treat thousands of casualties from the ‘Great March of Return’ protests.”