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Coronavirus

The Hamas Militant Group Has Imposed a Second Lockdown in the Gaza Strip

December 11, 2020

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — The Hamas militant group has imposed a second lockdown in the Gaza Strip to contain a worsening coronavirus outbreak in the isolated and impoverished territory, home to more than 2 million Palestinians.

Residents have been ordered to remain at home on Friday and Saturday, a brief period that appears unlikely to significantly alter the outbreak’s trajectory. A nighttime curfew has been in place since August.

Authorities are reluctant to impose more sweeping measures because the economy is already suffering from an Israeli and Egyptian blockade imposed when Hamas seized power from rival Palestinian forces in 2007. Israel says the blockade is needed to keep Hamas from importing arms.

The blockade, and strict quarantine measures, delayed the arrival of the coronavirus, but the first cases of local transmission were detected in August. Some 27,000 infections have been reported since then, including 175 deaths.

Gaza’s health system has been hollowed out by the blockade and years of conflict, and experts have warned that a major outbreak could overwhelm hospitals.

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