Gaza's gravediggers saw war: 'COVID is harder'

As the pandemic drags on, the burden of casualties is increasingly shifting toward the world's poorer areas.

And here in the Palestinian territories it is front and center, where the sick and dying are pushing Gaza's hospitals close to capacity.

Mohammad al-Haresh knows. He's the man burying the dead, and he says even the Israeli-Gaza war of 2014 wasn't this difficult for him.

"There used to be one or two funerals a day, and some days none at all," he says. Now he has eight a day, 10 a day, and God knows they'll increase.

He's burying bodies in the day and night.

Across the border fence in Israel, daily headlines show progress against the disease. Over half of Israelis are fully vaccinated, cases are down sharply, and people no longer have to wear masks outdoors.

In Gaza, with a densely packed population of two million people, only a mere 34,000 have been vaccinated.

Health officials say disregard for social distancing helped worsen the spike. Vaccine skepticism also runs deep. A recent survey suggests 54% of Gazans refuse to get a shot, according to the Jerusalem Media and Communications Center.

Hamas is imposing a nightly curfew to try and stem the tide, shutting mosques hosting hundreds of people for Ramadan.

But it's reluctant to damage the economy further, and elections are also coming.

We spoke with Eyad Al-Bozom, a Hamas representative. He says, "We may impose additional measures, but we don't expect at this phase to go into a full lockdown."

Back at the cemetery, Haresh the gravedigger continues. He says in war they'd bury the dead during ceasefires or truces. With coronavirus, there is no truce.