Economist echos media lie that Israel restricts medicine to Gaza

Coronavirus testing kits being delivered to the Gaza Strip. Photo credit: COGAT

The Economist is the latest British media outlet to mislead on the coronavirus-relate healthcare crisis in Gaza.  Their March 26th article (“Gaza, already under siege, imposes lockdown”), published in their print edition, included the following:

An outbreak would be catastrophic. Gaza is one of the world’s most densely populated places. The health-care system, shattered by the long blockade, would be unable to cope. Even in normal times, basic items like antibiotics are often in short supply.

However, the medicine shortage in Gaza has nothing whatsoever to do with the the Israeli blockade – a fact we proved in a previous post which included a definitive statement from COGAT that there are NO restrictions on medicine and medical equipment.

In fact, even the NY Times has acknowledged – after communication with CAMERA – that “the import of medicine [to Gaza] is not restricted.” 

The shortage has more to do with Hamas’s decision to spend millions on terror tunnels and other military items instead of on domestic needs such as healthcare.  Another major factor is the longstanding inter-Palestinian rivalry which resulted in PA measures that have significantly reduced medical funds to Gaza.

The Economist article also included the following claim:

Doctors in Gaza say they received only about 200 kits to test for the virus. Most have already been used. They are pleading with Israel and the WHO to send more, but it is unclear when, or if, they will.

This is inaccurate.  The 200 kits are only what they received directly from Israel. The actual total number is around 1,200, as Gaza received an additional 1,000 from WHO via COGAT:

Moreover, the Economist article obfuscates the larger story: the extraordinary cooperation between Israel and Palestinians in response to the pandemic. Even Nickolay Mladenov, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, praised the coordination and cooperation established between the two parties in tackling COVID-19 – calling it “excellent”.

Here’s part of the UN’s press release on Mladenov’s statement:

Since the beginning of the crisis, Israel has allowed the entry of critical supplies and equipment into Gaza: examples of critical supplies include swabs for collection of samples and other laboratory supplies required for COVID-19 testing, and Personal Protective Equipment to protect health workers.

The statement also noted Israel’s cooperation in allowing health workers and other personnel involved in the COVID-19 response to move in and out of the West Bank and Gaza.

Though we don’t know with certainty which Economist correspondent wrote the article, there’s a good chance it was their Mid-East correspondent Gregg Carlstrom, as the dateline is Beirut, where the journalist is based.

We’ve complained to Economist editors about the error:

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