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Hamas builds coronavirus isolation facilities in Gaza

March 18, 2020 at 3:32 pm

Voluntary campaign to disinfect houses in refugee camps in the Gaza Strip to as a precautionary step against the coronavirus on 16 March 2020 in Gaza [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

Facilities for medical examinations and the possible isolation of those entering the Gaza Strip through the Rafah and Erez Crossings are being constructed by the de facto government run by Hamas, the Times of Israel has reported.

Although there are yet to be any coronavirus cases in the coastal enclave, the authorities have, over the past week, started to prepare for the likelihood that the virus could reach the crowded territory. According to The Jerusalem Post, two sets of facilities will be built in the north and south of the Gaza Strip, with a total of 500 rooms for individuals requiring quarantine.

The director of Rafah Municipality’s health and environmental department, Mohammed Mohammed, explained that the facility near Rafah will be built on land to the west of the city. It will be coordinated by the municipality, the government’s monitoring committee, the local water services and the electricity company.

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The leader of the Islamic Resistance Movement in the Gaza Strip, Yahya Al-Sinwar, has been reported to be supervising the construction work personally in both areas. He has, apparently, been accompanied by a number of senior Hamas officials on his visits to the sites.

Palestinian health officials have expressed concern that if and when cases of coronavirus are detected in the Gaza Strip, local hospitals will not be able to cope with a large number of infected patients.

“The Gaza Strip is a densely populated area, where the virus could spread very quickly,” said one official. “The health system in the Gaza Strip does not have the tools and staff to deal with dozens of infected cases. We have 11 major hospitals and dozens of clinics, but they won’t be able to receive a large number of patients. That could result in a real and unprecedented humanitarian crisis.”

Most of the cases of coronavirus in the occupied Palestinian territories have been recorded in the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem.

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