- Title: 'Double lockdown': COVID-19 adds to blockaded Gaza's despair
- Date: 28th August 2020
- Summary: GAZA CITY, GAZA (AUGUST 28, 2020) (REUTERS) CATS AT CLOSED FISH MARKET DUE TO CORONAVIRUS LOCKDOWN IN THE STRIP CLOSED FISH SHOPS LOCKED SHOP EMPTY STREETS / CLOSED FISH MARKET VARIOUS OF CLOSED SHOPS AT FISH MARKET (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) FISHERMAN, SAKHER MIQDAD, 35, SAYING: "If the fishing continues to be halted, I will die from hunger. No one is helping us, I am telling you I will die from hunger. I am not a government employee and I don't have a monthly wage. If I had a salary, 500 shekels a month, I would stay home not for a year but 10,000 years. But with this situation, if the sea remains closed, I won't die from coronavirus I will die from hunger." VARIOUS OF GAZA'S EMPTY PORT (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) GAZA,RESIDENT, EYAS YOUNIS,45, SAYING: "I know that there is lockdown, I am not here to buy fish. Gaza today became - the suffering is complicated, there is no place like here in the world, it's not just about fish. Yes, we are maybe supplied with food and we should not panic but the situation is becoming more complicated little by little."
- Embargoed: 11th September 2020 13:55
- Keywords: Gaza Israel blockade coronavirus fishermen
- Location: GAZA CITY, GAZA
- City: GAZA CITY, GAZA
- Country: Palestinian Territories
- Topics: Health/Medicine
- Reuters ID: LVA001CT5Y62V
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: On a deserted beachfront in a newly locked-down Gaza, fishermen look impotently at the Mediterranean waters they can no longer access under two separate bans - one by Israel and the other by Hamas police imposing COVID-19 restrictions.
In a narrow coastal enclave that is home to 2 million Palestinians, the 40 km coastline in normal times provides an important food source and employment for 4,000 fishermen.
But old politics and new pandemic combined to leave the territory's fish markets virtually empty on Friday (August 28), when they would usually be packed on the busiest day of the week with Palestinians buying fresh sea bream and sardines.
The enforced fishing layoff began on August 16 when Israel tightened its long-standing blockade of Gaza, grounding boats after an increase in incendiary balloons flown from Gaza into Israel by supporters of militant groups in what Israel deemed a "continued violation of security stability".
Fisherman Sakher Miqdad says his industry now faces a "double lockdown".
Humanitarian organisations fear COVID-19 could be devastating on densely packed Gaza, whose isolation so far spared it from the worst of the pandemic.
According to the World Food Programme, even before the virus more than two thirds of Gazans were "food insecure", citing the blockade as a key factor.
But Israel says the restrictions on Gaza imposed by itself and Egypt are because of the security threat posed by Hamas, which it considers a terrorist organization.
Compounding the concerns, Gaza health authorities now fear the virus may have entered before Monday's first reported case in the general population.
He said the Gaza health authorities thought the virus entered Gaza "maybe in early August," but said that was so far an assumption "which I don't want to confirm or to dismiss."
(Production: Roleen Tafakji, Mohammed Shanna, Abed Shanna, Mohammed Salem)
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