The Israeli government is being called on to lift the blockade of Gaza in order for its residents to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Australia Palestine Advocacy Network (APAN) has started an email campaign for Australians to write to the foreign minister to exert pressure on Israel to bring to an end its repression of the Palestinians.

“As the Australian Government prides itself on its close relationship with Israel, the Foreign Minister must use this to call on Israel to take its responsibilities seriously and immediately lift the blockade of Gaza.”

“These are frightening times for everyone. While everyone is struggling to deal with this crisis, the people in Gaza are especially vulnerable.”

“How horrific must it be to face coronavirus in Gaza, without enough water, soap, medications, respirators or even food?”

The first two cases of COVID-19 were first diagnosed on Sunday 22 March where Israel had only allowed in five hundred tests for a population of 1.8 million people.

Bernie Sanders, US Jewish presidential candidate has called on President Trump to send medical relief to Gaza amid coronavirus pandemic.

“Palestinians in Gaza already faced hardship under a blockade. Now they’re dealing with the coronavirus. My Senate colleagues and I call on Trump to send US medical relief and the Israeli government must also lift its restrictions on humanitarian aid,” he said.

Decades of Israeli occupation of Palestinian Territories and 13 years of suffocating blockade of Gaza that included a couple of military invasions and regular bombings have rendered the  basic civilian infrastructure and essential services inadequate even in “normal” times, now poses a threat to human life.

It is chronically short of medicines and equipment. Its water is not safe to drink while Gaza’s homes, offices and hospitals receive an average of four to six hours of electricity per day.

As the occupying power in Gaza as well as the West Bank and East Jerusalem, Israel is responsible for ensuring all people have what they need to survive.

Gazans must be given a chance to fight COVID-19.