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Arabic press review: Besieged Gaza exporting coronavirus protective masks to Israel

Meanwhile, US to continue pressure on Iran, Qatar to punish quarantine violators and tourist industry in Lebanon faces bankruptcy
Palestinian municipal workers spray disinfectant as a precaution against the spread of the coronavirus at a market in Gaza, 27 March 2020 (AFP)

Gaza exports masks to Israel

The coronavirus emergency has prompted a factory in Gaza, a territory besieged for nearly 14 years, to switch production from clothes to protective masks and other medical supplies, according to the London-based Alquds Alarabi newspaper.

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According to the report, Unipal has been able to export its medical supplies, including kits, to Israel, the West Bank and several Arab states.

Bashir al-Bawab, one of the factory's managers, said that the company first provided medical staff in Gaza with the necessary equipment before quantities were exported to the West Bank and elsewhere.

Bawab highlighted the fact that the hundreds of workers in the factory were operating under emergency health measures to prevent the spread of the virus among them. 

US 'maximum pressure' against Iran to continue

According to the Saudi newspaper Asharq al-Awsat, US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus has confirmed that Washington is continuing its "maximum pressure campaign" toward Iran, and that "there is no change or easing of the US sanctions imposed on the Iranian regime". 

Ortagus told Asharq al-Awsat that "Iran has the opportunity at any time to foster dialogue, act as a responsible country and negotiate with President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Then, they can stop these sanctions immediately and this option is still valid.

"It is important to clarify that the sanctions policy is totally independent from the aid channels opened to help Iran combat the outbreak of coronavirus," she added.

Ortagus accused Tehran of failing to protect its people and "not taking the right measures to reduce the spread of the coronavirus".

Prison for quarantine violation in Qatar

Qatar has issued a new law to stop the spread of infectious diseases by violating quarantine, according to the Qatari newspaper Al-Sharq, imposing penalties of imprisonment for three years and/or a fine of 200,000 riyals ($55,000).

Qatar has closed all shops except food outlets, pharmacies and delivery services (AFP)

Over the past few days, government agencies in Qatar have arrested 45 citizens who had violated isolation that aims to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The Ministry of Health confirmed that anyone who violated these conditions would expose themselves to the penalties stipulated in the law.

Major firms face bankruptcy in Lebanon

Avedis Guidanian, the former Lebanese minister of tourism, has said that large companies face the risk of bankruptcy if the coronavirus crisis continues, according to the London-based Al-Araby Al-Jadeed newspaper.

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Guidanian said the tourism sector in Lebanon had gone through three stages during the past year.

The first stage was before 17 October 2019, when annual profits came in at $2bn.

The second stage came after the dollar crisis and the popular uprising forced tourism companies to sell in US dollars, which led to a sales decrease of 80 percent for tourism companies, according to Guidanian.

The third phase, he said, began with the coronavirus epidemic, which has so far caused global losses to the air transport sector exceeding $250bn.

"We can imagine the impact of the epidemic on Lebanon, which is experiencing a very severe economic crisis at the same time, in addition to the decline in the tourism sector already facing a significant and dangerous setback," Guidanian said. 

Arabic press review is a digest of reports that are not independently verified as accurate by Middle East Eye.

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.