Hamas said in a statement that it “invited the Palestinian factions and the Ministry of Health to contribute to the fight against COVID-19.”
This comes after the Palestinian Ministry of Health confirmed its first two cases in the Strip, among the returnees who have traveled to Pakistan and are currently being treated in a field hospital in Rafah.
“Meeting the challenge of spreading the coronavirus requires a Palestinian unity at the national level,” said Hazem Qassem, a Hamas spokesman, who called on Abbas to lift sanctions to reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission.
The Gaza Strip has already seen the closure of public markets and schools over the past two weeks to reduce the risk of transmission of the virus.
The authorities in Gaza also decided to close restaurants, cafes and reception halls in the Strip. Friday prayers were suspended in mosques until further notice.
Qasim added that the Palestinian Authority must “end the policy of punishing the Gaza Strip, especially in these times when our people need to strengthen our internal front.”
In April 2017, Abbas cut the salaries of thousands of government employees in Gaza by 30 percent, adding to the difficulties in the impoverished coastal strip that suffers from high rates of poverty and unemployment among its population of about two million Palestinians.
Because of the economic hardships caused by such internal rivalries and years of blockade and conflict that have brought Gaza to the breaking point, the World Health Organization has warned that the health care system in Gaza will not be able to cope with the outbreak of the deadly disease.