The COVID-19 virus has begun to spread in Palestine and poses a significant risk to Palestinians living under Israeli occupation.
AFSC has started implementing a response program that provides elderly residents of Gaza and families in communities in Area C of the West Bank with kits that include basic health and sanitation supplies as well as information on COVID-19 and staying healthy during this time of pandemic.
Health care systems in both the West Bank and Gaza will be quickly overwhelmed as the virus continues to spread. Development of the Palestinian health system has been stunted by more than 50 years of Israeli occupation and control of Palestinian financial and human resources. More than 60% of the West Bank is under complete Israeli control, and there are no medical providers who can care for those who fall ill. In Gaza, the health system is already critically overburdened, and the whole society is suffering as the result of 13 years of blockade. Action is needed to ensure that this pandemic is contained and that those who become sick can get the care they need.
The coronavirus does not discriminate. It has spread through both Israeli and Palestinian communities, impacting hundreds of people and forcing shutdowns and closures. The risks to all people must be a concern. AFSC is working to ensure that the rights of all people to receive medical care without discrimination are respected. However, Gaza and Area C communities in the West Bank face specific vulnerabilities that require immediate action to prevent an uncontrolled crisis.
In Gaza AFSC is providing Corona virus assistance to poor and housebound elderly residents of Gaza.
These are people like Jamea’ Shalout who AFSC helped last year . Jamea’ lives with several of her children and their families in a two-room home made of cinderblocks and corrugated tin in Rafah. None of her extended family are currently employed and they survive on limited international assistance that barely meets basic needs. This prohibits Jamea and her family from accssing basic protective materials that could help stop the spread of COVID-19.
The kits that AFSC is providing include a mix of items such as: liquid hand soap, soap bars, hand sanitizer, wet wipes, bleach, household cleaning materials, paper towels, laundry detergent, face masks, and information on the COVID-19 virus and safety. Items that individuals and families in poverty cannot afford.
In the West Bank AFSC will implement a similar program targeting at risk families in vulnerable Area C communities, particularly in the Jordan Valley, South Hebron, and the Jerusalem periphery. Kits supplied in the West Bank will include items similar to what will be supplied in Gaza, but will also be targeted to the specific needs of the rural and bedouin communities where aid is to be distributed.