Israel air strikes damage only lab in Gaza that tests for Covid-19, tests halted

The Gaza Strip has one of the highest rates of positive Covid-19 cases in the world.

Sulaiman Daud | May 18, 2021, 10:38 AM

An Israeli air strike in the Gaza Strip has put out of commission the only laboratory in the Palestinian enclave that conducts Covid-19 tests.

Other buildings including orphanage and high school damaged

AFP, cited by The Straits Times, said that the clinic in the town of Al-Rimal was "partially destroyed", while other buildings such as Gaza's health ministry and a Red Crescent office were also damaged.

The London-based Middle East Eye (MEE) said that the Israeli jets targeted a residential building in Gaza, which caused damage to surrounding buildings, including an orphanage and a high school for girls.

Both media outlets quoted Yousef Abu al-Rish, a doctor and a deputy health minister of the Islamist Hamas government. According to MEE, he said:

"Targeting the Ministry of Health building, al-Remal Clinic, and the medical staff is a heinous crime aimed at preventing the Ministry from continuing its humanitarian work in saving the lives of the wounded and providing health care to citizens.

The international community must hold the occupation accountable for its heinous and ongoing crimes against medical personnel and health institutions."

Previously, Israeli air strikes destroyed a building housing international media outlets AP and Al-Jazeera.

It claimed the building was a "legitimate military target" as it also allegedly housed military offices belonging to Hamas.

Covid-19 crisis

Before the latest escalation of violence, authorities in Gaza were testing around 1,600 people a day.

Hospitals have been overwhelmed by patients, with positive Covid-19 results as high as 28 per cent.

According to the World Health Organization, the self-governing territory with around two million residents have received 122,000 vaccine doses so far, over half of which have yet to be administered.

Israel air strikes and Hamas rocket attacks

AFP reported on May 17 that Israel launched "dozens of air strikes" in a matter of minutes.

The strikes also damaged hundreds of buildings and caused widespread power cuts. So far, at least 197 Palestinians have been killed and 1,200 wounded as a result of these air strikes.

Israel launched the strikes on May 10 after armed groups in Gaza launched rockets into Israel, killing 10 and wounding 282.

Hamas said it would launch rockets if Israeli settlers did not withdraw from Al-Aqsa Mosque and the predominantly Palestinian neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah, where families are facing eviction.

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Top image from Getty Images.