“Dear world, how is the lockdown? Gaza.”
A canny comment at the international community, this is just one amidst a cascade of social media posts that have surfaced from the cloistered Gaza Strip in the rise of the coronavirus pandemic.
Mocking the World!
The seen of a world latching itself down seems to have released a stream of emotions in Gaza, from acerbic political commentary to schadenfreude, rising from Palestinian denizens of the tiny coastal enclave that has lived with imposed isolation and confinement for years.
“Have you got bored with your quarantine, the closure of your crossings, your airports and your trade? We in Gaza have been living this for 14 years,” one social media user posted this week.
“Oh world, welcome into our permanent reality,” he added.
Gaza, that measures for 375 square kilometers (145 square miles) holds about two million Palestinians and more than half of them are refugees. Israel controls 90% of its land and sea boundaries for access to the outside world, and by Egypt on its thin southern border.
An Israeli-led barricade has resulted in restraints on the movement of people and goods for years, between tension regarding the time following the 2007 takeover of Gaza by the Islamist militant group Hamas, and three wars after that which killed thousands of Palestinians and around 100 Israelis.
The irony should not be ignored on Gazans that the restrictions they hate may also have contributed to slowing the entry of coronavirus, with no cases reported so far in Gaza. However, prolonged isolation and closure have contributed to the paralyzing of Gaza’s economy, with unemployment at 52 percent and poverty levels of more than 50 percent.
Standing in his empty metal factory in northern Gaza City, businessman Youssef Sharaf remembered the years when he was able to export electric heaters to Israel and the West Bank.
Reuters reported that Sharaf said, “I had 70 people working here, today I only have one.” However, the underlying causes of his closure were man-made, he empathized with those struggling with shutdown because of disease.
“It is tough,” he said. “May God be with them.”
However, Gaza’s small but buoyant high-tech sector, the barriers that stop travel abroad also forced the early implementation of teleconferencing and different practices that the world is now catching up with.
At Gaza Sky Geeks, an incubator for young entrepreneurs, computer programmers and web developers work remotely with international firms.
“Because of the years-long blockade on us, Gaza people better understand the current situation in world countries,” said Angham Abu Abed, 24, a computer engineer who works with a software company in Britain.
“We hope the blockade on us will end, and we hope the virus will disappear from the world.”
Hello, I’m Anna Yeo. If you like my news coverage, please drop a good word in my inbox. I’m journalist by profession and have been part of many major reporting across the globe. I like to write crisp and factual news. I have completed my masters degree in journalism. Feel free to contact me at [email protected]