200322 Gaza
Workers wearing protective gear spray disinfectant as a precaution against the coronavirus, at the main market in Gaza City on March 19, 2020. Image Credit: AP

Last week, an Etihad airliner touched down at an airport in what rightfully should be Palestinian territory, holding 14 tonnes of urgent medical supplies for the people of Palestine in its cargo bay. Those supplies have been distributed to Palestinian health outlets for immediate use in helping our Arab brothers respond to and stop the spread of coronavirus. The delivery included 10 urgently needed ventilators that will be used for critically ill patients fighting COVID-19 as well as personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves, gowns and face visors, the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said.

It’s a delivery that, although only 14 tonnes, underlines the very close and real support the people of the UAE hold for our brothers in Palestine. From the very early days of the foundation of the UAE, its leaders and government have always stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the people of Palestine.  

Sadly, this is a pandemic that recognises no limits of movement, respects no international boundaries, and is egalitarian by affecting all.

The reality is that given the economic privations, the enforced injustices, the social apartheid and political punishments inflicted on the people of Palestine by the Israeli occupation regime and forces, its quisling officials and its morally bankrupt leadership, the people of Palestine are more vulnerable now to the ravages wrought by this pandemic

But the UAE will not stand idly by while Israel continues its outrageous all-out assault on the health, wealth and social well-being of Palestine and its people. In July, the UAE will take over as chair of the advisory group of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees. Already, as Dr Anwar Gargash, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs noted, UAE aid to the agency has amount to $216 million (Dh794 million) over the past six years.

Those funds donated by the UAE have helped children learn in classrooms, have helped families look after their health, have provided opportunities for work, outlets for creative endeavours and maintained vital services when other funding had been viciously cut because of temporary political expediency. Above all, the UAE has provided hope and succour for all Palestinians — a reminder that they are not alone, and the UAE stands with them. Or, as Dr Gargash notes: “Our commitment to the Palestinian cause and refugee support is principled.”