The head of Hamas in Gaza Yahya Sinwar has been infected with coronavirus, the terror group said Tuesday.
The 58-year-old is in good condition and is continuing his work while in quarantine, Hamas said.
Sinwar was convicted in 1989 of killing Palestinians accused of collaborating with Israel and given five life sentences. He was freed from an Israeli jail in 2011 as part of a prisoner swap that saw the return of captured IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, who had been held in Gaza by Hamas for five years.
Public health experts warned last week that a sharp rise in coronavirus infections in the Strip could overwhelm the enclave's meager medical system within days.
Gaza, where the dense and poor population of 2 million is vulnerable to contagions, currently has 10,000 active cases of the disease, including 132 people in serious condition. A total of 111 people have died there since the start of the pandemic.
In the past 24 hours, there have been 815 new diagnoses of COVID-19 in Gaza and nine people have succumbed to the disease.
The data from the Gaza Strip shows an alarmingly high rate of positive tests of some 30%. However, due to a shortage of testing kits, tests are only carried out on people who show symptoms of coronavirus.
Hamas, which has so far imposed one lockdown, is reluctant to impose a new full closure on Gaza due to the economic fallout, although experts and international organizations that are helping fight the virus in the Strip support such a step.
Minister of Science and Technology Izhar Shay said last week that Israel was enabling international humanitarian aid to reach Gaza, adding: "This is the level that we can preserve in the coronavirus context."
In recent days, additional respirators have been delivered to Gaza through international donations and with Israeli approval. Israel also recently approved the transfer of a monthly Qatari aid package to Gaza.
A number of senior Hamas officials have been infected with coronavirus, including deputy leader and military wing founder Saleh al-Aruri, who has now recovered, political leader Fathi Hamad, and spokesmen Sami Abu Zuhri and Taher -Nunu.