It was just a matter of time before Palestinian terror groups like Hamas exploited the coronavirus as part of their ongoing conflict with Israel.
Over the weekend, senior Hamas officials notified Egypt and Qatar that they would dramatically increase the number of Israelis infected with COVID-19 if those two Arab states failed to continue to financially support the terror group during the current global crisis.
That according to Lebanese newspaper Al Akhbar, which has ties to Hamas.
It was unclear from the report, translated by the Tazpit Press Service (TPS), if Hamas intended to further spread the coronavirus to Israel through infected persons, or to help it proliferate by forcing Israelis into crowded bomb shelters.
Israel reportedly responded that it would not tolerate rocket attacks from Gaza at this time, though it is difficult to imagine the IDF launching any kind of serious military retaliation during the coronavirus crisis for fear of global condemnation.
Al Akhbar also claimed that Hamas wants Qatar and Egypt to pressure Israel to send more medical equipment to Gaza.
Israel aids Palestinians
The Palestinian-ruled territories are woefully unprepared to handle a pandemic, and this is particularly true of the Gaza Strip, which has been isolated for well over a decade due to Hamas’ violent behavior.
Israel has stepped up by earmarking for the Palestinians a sizeable portion of the supplies being imported to the Jewish state aboard Air Force planes.
“Our efforts against this virus stem not merely from a legal duty, but from a humanitarian and moral one, with an understanding that this pathogen does not care about national borders,” Col. Sharon Biton, head of civilian affairs at the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, told Israel’s Ynet news portal.
Catastrophe waiting to happen
Gaza on Sunday confirmed its first two cases of coronavirus. The infected are local Palestinians who attended a conference in Pakistan earlier in the month. Everyone who has come into contact with them since their return has been put in quarantine.
Gaza’s isolation was at first seen as a positive as the world struggled to contain COVID-19. For weeks, the coastal enclave was referred to as the safest place in the world, at least as far as the pandemic was concerned.
But with the coronavirus now rearing its head in Gaza, there is serious concern that it could spread rapidly in the densely-populated territory. And were that to happen, Hamas’ systematic mismanagement would result in the near-immediate collapse of the local health care system.