Hamas Supporters Debate: Should The Movement Maintain The Lull With Israel During The COVID-19 Outbreak, Or Fire Rockets And Thus Double The Number Of Cases In Israel?
The spread of the coronavirus in Israel and in the Palestinian territories is raising questions in Gaza regarding the relations with Israel on the healthcare, economic and political levels.
Fearing that a coronavirus outbreak in the Gaza Strip could cause a severe crisis there, Hamas threatened that, if the financial aid from Qatar is delayed, it will exacerbate the conflict with Israel and “send half of Israeli society into the bomb shelters,” thus increasing the spread of the virus in Israel. The spokesman of Hamas’s military wing also demanded that Israel release the Hamas members incarcerated in its prisons, to keep them from contracting the disease.
Hamas supporters on social media debated what is the best way to handle the conflict with Israel in the current period. Some expressed support for Hamas’s threats, calling to use the coronavirus outbreak to exacerbate the conflict with Israel by firing rockets or sending balloons carrying the virus into its territory. Others, such as the former mayor of Khan Younis Dr. Fayez Abu Shamala, rejected these ideas, arguing that this is a time to be humane, even towards the enemy, to maintain the ceasefire with Israel and to advance a prisoner exchange deal.
The following is a sampling of messages posted by Hamas supporters on social media and in the Hamas-affiliated press on this topic.
Hamas Threatens: Rockets Will Force Israelis To Congregate In Shelters, Thus Increasing The Spread Of The Coronavirus Among Them
According to the Lebanese Al-Akhbar daily, Hamas informed Israel, via Egypt and Qatar, that Gaza would not be able to handle the financial implications of a health crisis caused by the virus, and that, if Israel delays the monthly aid package from Qatar as part of the restrictions on movement through the border crossings, Hamas could “ratchet up [the conflict] on the ground, on the [Gaza-Israel] border.” It cited Hamas sources as saying that “the resistance can send half of Israeli society into the bomb shelters, which will increase the number of coronavirus cases and cause Israel to lose control [over the spread of the epidemic].” Alongside these threats, Hamas also urged Egypt and Qatar to pressure Israel to provide Gaza with medical equipment for dealing with the coronavirus outbreak. On March 22 it was reported that, due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Emir of Qatar, which has been providing financial aid to Gaza on a monthly basis, had ordered to deliver $150 million to Gaza over the next six months.
The idea of attacking Israel at this time was also voiced by Hamas supporters on social media, who noted that rocket attacks from Gaza would force Israelis to congregate in shelters and thus increase the number of COVID-19 cases among them. A few rejected this idea, on the grounds that even in war one must not lose sight of moral values Read more MEMRI