Creating new perspectives since 2009

$120 million needed to face coronavirus crisis as Palestinians warn of its economic impact

March 30, 2020 at 4:22 pm

Palestinian artists paint a mural to promote protection measures against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in Khan Yunis, Gaza on March 28, 2020 [Mustafa Hassona / Anadolu Agency]

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh has said that $120 million will be needed to combat the coronavirus outbreak in the Israeli occupied Palestinian territories.

Speaking at a press conference in Ramallah yesterday the former Chairman of the Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction provided an update on the spread of the pandemic and his government’s effort to deal with the crisis.

The number of cases in the Palestinian territories on Sunday rose to 108 after two new cases were recorded in the city of Hebron. Among the infected cases were nine in the Gaza Strip.

Sketching details of the foreign assistance in dealing with the pandemic Shtayyeh said that the Palestinian Authority is awaiting the arrival of medical aid from China to fill the shortfall in testing kits and respiratory devices.

Read: A Terrifying Scenario: Coronavirus in ‘Quarantined’ Gaza

He explained that Palestinian health authorities are currently able to conduct 1,000 tests daily.

Ahmed Al-Deek, advisor to the Palestinian foreign minister, provided further details on the foreign assistance in an interview with Reuters: “A Chinese plane will carry medical aid to Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon and Israel,” said Al-Deek.

The Palestinian share of the aid, according to Deek, is “100,000 strips of coronavirus testing, in addition to a good number of respirators.”

Al-Deek said that the additional testing kits and respirators will be required within days explaining that “large numbers of Palestinian workers who work in Israel will return to their areas of residence and will need to conduct tests in order to ensure that they do not carry this virus.”

The Palestinian Ministry of Civil Affairs is expected to take over the delivery of medical aid to the Ministry of Health following its arrival at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv.

Read: Arab MK warns of humanitarian disaster in West Bank and Gaza

Describing the economic and humanitarian impact Shtayyeh said that his government is working to “support the poor and help them overcome this difficult period.”

He noted that 106,000 families are receiving aid from the government, including more than 70,000 families in the Gaza Strip. The besieged Strip is expected to see the collapse of its health system.

The PA’s revenues are expected to see a dramatic fall in this time of crisis, by more than 50 per cent.

“International aid will decline because the whole world is in crisis, so we will work with an austerity emergency budget by cutting costs as much as possible,” Shtayyeh said.

Despite the shortfall the Palestinian Prime Minister pledged to pay the salaries of public sector employees for this month, in full. He warned that the “the budget deficit will double and the losses to the national economy will be great.”

The PA is working with the World Bank to study the impact and means to revive the economy.