#Logistics in the time of COVID

The Catastrophe of An Impossible Quarantine

During the pandemic, care has often meant isolation from loved ones. But in Palestinian refugee camps that are overcrowded, people are facing a cruel, new disaster.
Mohammad Al-Azza and Amahl Bishara

                                                                 Video produced by Mohammad Al-Azza

The possibility of a narrow grave is supposed to encourage devout Muslims to live upstanding lives. But what happens when the narrowness of the home leads loved ones to the grave? How can people be caring family members then? In Aida Refugee Camp, people have complained for generations about overcrowding. But they did not know the overcrowding could take their elders. Many people were unable to stop working during the COVID crisis because they needed the daily wages. When these working adults became ill, they could hardly isolate themselves from their children or their parents in small houses.

Palestinians call the dispossession of 1948 the Nakba, or catastrophe. It pushed 750,000 people off their village homes and lands into these refugee camps. Since then, the Ongoing Nakba has been, among other things, a disaster of logistics, especially for those living under military occupation and in a territory that constantly constrains movement of people and goods. Checkpoints and the wall confine people, especially in places like Aida Refugee Camp.

Through it all a certain social cohesion has been a source of strength: that generations live together and take care of each other. But this year, the Nakba has taken a strange new twist: now the disaster is that people are unable to isolate from each other. In this video on the latest chapter of the Nakba in this COVID year, we hear from Ibrahim Musallam of Aida Refugee Camp, who lost his father to COVID after he and his wife fell ill, and they were unable to quarantine from each other.


Mohammad Al-Azza is a freelance journalist, Acting Director of Lajee Center, and Director of the Media Unit at Lajee Center. He facilitated BADIL's COVID Nakba series, and he has chronicled life in his community in Aida Refugee Camp through his photography and video production since his youth.

Amahl Bishara is an anthropologist at Tufts University who is writing about Palestinian protest and politics across lines of fragmentation. She is the author of Back Stories: U.S. News Production and Palestinian Politics. She has been working with Lajee Center in Aida Refugee Camp for over fifteen years.