The New York Times today published an awful article on the coronavirus crisis, focusing only on its impact on Israel’s post-election maneuvering, barely mentioning the threat to Palestinians in the Occupied West Bank, and leaving out Gaza entirely.
Isabel Kershner rattles on at length about how Benjamin Netanyahu is using the crisis to show decisiveness, which he hopes will let him be part of a new government and thereby stay out of jail. She quotes a columnist in Haaretz who notes that Netanyahu “is squeezing every ounce of political and propaganda benefit out of the coronavirus. . .”
But another quote hints at the far more important story that Kershner missed. A spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Affairs ministry says, “Israel is a very small and crowded country. It will be hard to stop an epidemic.”
Anyone in Israel/Palestine with sensitivity who hears “small and crowded” would turn their thoughts immediately to Gaza. With 1.8 million people, it is one of the most densely-populated places on earth. Kershner obviously reads Haaretz, which the day before ran an article headlined: “Coronavirus is a death sentence for Palestinians caged in Gaza.” The writer, Shannon Maree Torrens, noted that the United Nations has already warned that health care in Gaza is at “breaking point.”
Gaza has a significant lack of quality medical care, a deficit in medical supplies and poorly paid medical personnel which has led to a protracted health crisis. This is compounded by the almost 13-year blockade by, and conflict with, Israel.
This site warned about the danger even earlier, back on March 5. The valuable Ramzy Baroud asked: “What happens if Coronavirus reaches the Gaza Strip.” He pointed out that the besieged territory is still struggling to care for the huge number of victims of Israeli snipers. He said:
Gaza’s barely functioning hospitals are desperately trying to deal with the fall-out of the thousands of injuries resulting from the Great March of Return . . .
The New York Times article does not mention Gaza once, even as it deals extensively with the measures Israel is undertaking to prevent the epidemic from causing havoc. As an afterthought, in the second to last paragraph, Kershner does bring up the Occupied West Bank — but mainly to implicitly praise Israel for “facilitat[ing] the transfer of disinfectants, testing kits . . .” to the territory.
It looks uncomfortably like the Jerusalem Bureau of the New York Times practices Journalistic Apartheid. Coronavirus is only a crisis insofar as it applies to Israeli Jews and their political machinations. Palestinians, Gazans, don’t count.