GAZA CITY: Gazans have found in coronavirus an opportunity to ridicule their political and social reality.
Since the emergence of the virus and its rapid spread throughout the world, including the Arab region, activists on social media in Gaza have been deploying humor to highlight their deteriorating situation.
Fadel Suleiman said that the Gaza Strip is besieged to the point that “the coronavirus does not know how to enter,” in response to several statements issued by the Ministry of Health, which is run by Hamas in Gaza, saying that the enclave is free of the virus.
The majority of the 2 million population of the Gaza Strip live in what has been described as a “big prison,” after Israel imposed a tight siege after Hamas seized control of the Strip by armed force in mid-2007.
Marwa Abu Odeh described the coronavirus as a “blessing,” calling for the authorities in Gaza to close the Rafah crossing with Egypt.
Although the Ministry of Health in Gaza established a quarantine center at the Rafah crossing, which is the only outlet for 2 million Palestinians to the outside world, many have expressed little confidence in its ability to deal with the virus if it arrived.
Manal Ramadan said: “Coronavirus confirms that Gaza is devoid of the Ministry of Health . . . No need to panic.” She followed this post on her Facebook page with a “smiley” emoji.
Gaza hospitals suffer from a lack of capabilities and a permanent shortage of many types of drugs and medical supplies.
Issam Madi said in a post on Facebook: “Fear that the preparations are like the municipality’s preparations for the winter,” referring to the Gaza municipality’s failure to prevent flood losses.
Nahid Nashwan said: “If there was financial support for the affected areas of the coronavirus, the Hamas government would have declared Gaza fully sick.”
Abdullah Abu Sharkh, a retired teacher who was held several times in Hamas prisons, said: “I am terrified in Gaza of the coronavirus epidemic more than Hamas and Zionism . . . I do not fear death by itself, but I reject a stupid and ridiculous death.”
Doa’a Hassni, an activist opposed to the rule of Hamas, commented on a statement by a Hamas Ministry of Education official who had said: “The topic of the coronavirus has taken more than its size.” She responded by saying: “Behave guys, it’s just a virus that won’t be seen with the naked eye.”
Officials in the ministries in Gaza affiliated with Hamas in Gaza believe that the declaration of state of emergency by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank is exaggerated and does not apply to Gaza, as it is devoid of coronavirus.
Although some people are taking the coronavirus seriously, and are stocking up on masks and sterile fluids that have either disappeared from most pharmacies or whose prices have risen, many others took advantage of the suspension of schools and universities and went to the beach and public parks.
“The Gaza tourist boats thanks the coronavirus,” said an official of the fishermen’s committees in the Federation of Agricultural Work Committees, Zakaria Bakr, commenting on the great demand for these boats to hire.
Yahya Wafi said: “Children and parents are very interested in amusement parks and public parks on the second day of the Happy Coronavirus Feast.”
Others saw school closures putting pressure on mothers. Mohamed El-Jamal said: “My wife says: 'Within a week, if children didn’t return to schools, I will invent the coronavirus treatment'.”
Many have linked the virus to the deterioration of life in all walks of life in Gaza, due to the blockade, occupation and internal division.
As an expression of this deteriorating reality, Mohamed El-Burai said: “China has the coronavirus . . . We in Palestine have a virus that has conquered us, stole us, sold us and deserted us, and let us hate ourselves.”
Warda Dawood said: “Breaking . . . the infection of the first Gazan of coronavirus, which led to the death of the virus, because of the pressure and frustration that he found inside the poor Gazans . . . Coronavirus warns his fellows to avoid the whereabouts of Gazans.”