GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — The state of emergency declared March 5 by the Palestinian Authority (PA) after COVID-19 cases were confirmed in Bethlehem and the subsequent lockdown have disrupted local economies and prevented laborers from going to work in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel. In the Palestinian territories, the economic hardship stemming from the pandemic serves to exacerbate problems for Palestinians already suffering from prolonged economic crisis, raising concerns of families not having access to sufficient food or financial aid programs.
Among those struggling is Fares Mansour, who recently had to sell his wife's engagement ring to put food on the table for her and his four children. “I used to work in a restaurant in Gaza City for 30 shekels [$9] per day, which, even then, was not enough to meet my family’s daily needs,” he said. “Yet, the restaurant, as well as other diners, closed since COVID-19 cases were confirmed in the Palestinian territories. Like the rest of the restaurants’ workers, I became unemployed.”