Fearing Gaza virus spread, Hamas preps for mass quarantines

When Nima Amraa returned to Gaza from neighbouring Egypt earlier this month, she was surprised to learn she was being placed in a makeshift quarantine center set up by the ruling Hamas group.

But her initial jitters turned to fear when two fellow travelers in another facility tested positive for the coronavirus — the first cases to be confirmed in Gaza. “Once there were cases of the virus spreading, we started to feel afraid and disappointed,” Amraa, a 30-year-old journalist, said by phone from quarantine, where she has spent a week and a half sleeping in a room with five other women and sharing a bathroom.

The virus found a way into Gaza, even though the Mediterranean enclave has been largely cut off from the world by an Israeli-Egyptian blockade since Hamas took control of it 13 years ago. Yet the terrifying possibility of an outbreak in one of the world's most crowded territories — 2 million people squeezed into an area twice the size of Washington, DC —does not seem to have registered fully. Many in Gaza seem to accept Hamas assurances that the threat is contained.

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