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April 8, 2020 at 4:19 pm

Palestinian painters draw graffitis to draw attention to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in Khan Yunis, Gaza on 28 March 2020 [Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu Agency]

As the number of infections and deaths from COVID-19 multiply by the day, there have been increasing calls across the world for people to show solidarity and care for each other, particularly, for Palestine.

The newly-imposed restrictions on travel and large gatherings in Europe, as well as the horrific overcrowding of patients in overwhelmed hospitals has given the world a slight taste of what has been a Palestinian reality for decades. But of course, the differences are many.

The hashtag #WeArePalestine has been trending today as users from Mexico to Kashmir, are taking the opportunity to highlight their newfound recognition of the routine of a Palestinian’s daily life under the occupation, in light of the current COVID-19 state lockdowns.

READ: When humanitarian aid demeans political rights for Palestinians

In the occupied West Bank freedom of movement has long been subject to random checkpoints, while residents of the Gaza Strip must go through a series of procedures in order to be allowed out of the coastal enclave – surrounded by Israel to its north and east, and Egypt to the south.

In his article, Gideon Levy compared the strict measures and restrictions imposed by the Israeli government on the Israelis to curb the spread of the epidemic, with the daily suffering of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza – a reality which they have been suffering for decades under siege and occupation.

READ: What going home and staying there means for the Palestinians

However, Israel’s military control of Gaza and the West Bank has only grown more brutal during the pandemic. Workers are held in quarantine, prisoners have been infected and Israel is withholding money that could be used to help contain the outbreak.

In the world’s largest open-air prison, Palestinians in Gaza have been living that way for the last 14 years and are already highly susceptible to illnesses because of widespread unemployment and poverty, food insecurity and lack of adequate potable water.

Years of tight restrictions on people and goods have not only destroyed the economy but damaged almost every aspect of life.

There are the young, and the elderly Palestinians in Gaza who have never had the chance to dream of going abroad on holiday, to pursue a career or start a business.

READ: Israel undermines Palestinian efforts to fight coronavirus

Moreover, Gaza’s public health system has been severely tested by repeated military conflicts with Israel over the past 12 years and is chronically short of drugs and equipment. When combined with a deadly pandemic, the results could be devastating.

Director of Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Ben Jamal, also joined the hashtag to raise awareness about British complicity in supporting Israel’s system of oppression, and to challenge it during this crucial period, wrote: “These are times when we are reminded of our essential interconnectedness and that solidarity is an act of empathy. It also springs from the recognition that the oppression of the Palestinian people depends on our complicity to be sustained. We need to end our diplomatic, political and financial support for Israel’s ongoing project of ethnic cleansing.”

Many have also noted that criticism of Israel’s barbaric policies is not anti-Semitic and encouraged others to speak out and oppose the 52-year-old Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

While the lack of fair negotiations were also highlighted, with Twitter users raising how Israeli desires are always placed ahead of Palestinian rights.

COVID-19 has left much of the world’s populations under lockdown and curfew, which has helped many understand the restrictions imposed on Palestinians. The biggest difference yet is unlike in Palestine, the state lockdowns and curfews are all just temporary.