Israeli response to coronavirus provides more evidence of its racism

Israeli occupation blocked Palestinian workers at their workplaces to serve Israeli community. When Palestinian worker admitted to hospital over normal flu, Israeli police kidnapped him and dropped him off Israeli military checkpoint in West Bank


By Motasem A Dalloul 

Israeli occupation excludes Palestinians from the safety measures take against the spread of the coronavirus. Israel protected Israeli prisoners and rejected to take same measures for Palestinian prisoners.

The coronavirus Covid-19 has spread around the world, with 615,757 confirmed cases and 28,231 deaths according to an updating dashboard run by the World Health Organisation. The Director-General of the WHO, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has said that it is “deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity” of the virus.

This severity has pushed many countries to put hostilities aside and work together against the virus. Strict measures have been imposed to curb its spread and protect humanity: large gatherings have been banned; schools and universities have been closed; congregational prayers in places of worship have been suspended; and some countries have even released prisoners.

In Israel, however, the response to the virus has simply emphasised its officially-sanctioned racism. For example, on 20 March, the Times of Israel reported that Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan had decided to release 500 Israeli prisoners into house arrest in an effort to reduce the risk of a coronavirus outbreak in the country’s prisons.

Erdan apparently accepted the recommendation of acting Israel Prison Service chief Asher Vaknin.

Not a single one of the 5,000 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel — including 180 children, 43 women and 430 detained with neither charge nor trial —is being released, though, not even those with critical health conditions.

According to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club (PPC), at least four Palestinian prisoners held by Israel has tested positive for coronavirus. However, the Israeli occupation authorities deny this. The PPC pointed to the restrictions imposed by Israel on reporting news from its prisons, so it is in any case unlikely to make such an admission.

Rights group Addameer noted that the Israel Prison Service has banned visits to Palestinian prisoners by family members and lawyers since the outbreak of the virus instead of providing them with hygiene and cleaning materials essential to curb its spread. No other measures appear to have been implemented to protect the prisoners.

“Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons and detention centres constantly suffer from clear medical negligence,” explained Addameer. The situation has not changed since the outbreak of the virus. “Despite the fact that prisons are overcrowded and rooms, cells and sections are small, and lack proper ventilation, the IPS is yet to make clear preventive procedures… The prisons lack sterilisers, cleaning materials, and medications such as antibiotics and necessary nutrition.”

Last Thursday, the Palestinian prisoners threatened to launch a hunger strike if measures to protect them against the virus are not implemented. The occupation authorities did nothing for them, prompting them to begin gradual protest action.

The second evidence of Israel’s inherent racism is the inhumane treatment of a Palestinian worker who was thought by Israelis to have contracted coronavirus when he came down with flu-like symptoms. A video on social media showed him being dumped at Israel’s Sira/Maccabim military checkpoint near the occupied West Bank city of Nablus.

The man spoke to Palestinian and Israeli journalists about the incident. He explained that he had suffered from fever and his condition developed to a normal flu. His employer took him to Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, where he was tested for the coronavirus, but before the result was known, police officers arrived, handcuffed him and took him to the checkpoint where he was dumped; he then collapsed.

While the occupation authorities ordered Israeli employees to stay at home, they decided to block thousands of Palestinian workers in their work places regardless of the measures being taken against the spread of the coronavirus. When a Palestinian worker was thought to have contracted the virus, the Israelis dealt with him with neither compassion nor mercy. Such words are not in Israeli vocabulary when it comes to dealing with Palestinians.

Other incidents have occurred over the past few weeks, but these two suffice to illustrate Israeli racism.

To conclude, take note of the words of UN Special Rapporteur for the situation of human rights in Palestine, Michael Lynk, who voiced his concerns about Israel’s racism when he observed that the official Israeli publications to increase awareness about the disease were issued “exclusively in Hebrew”.

“This serious imbalance is apparently being addressed after protests, but it highlights the importance of ensuring equality of treatment,” stressed Lynk. “The legal duty, anchored in Article 56 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, requires that Israel, the occupying power, must ensure that all the necessary preventive means available to it are utilised to ‘combat the spread of contagious diseases and epidemics.’”

Yet again, and to the surprise of nobody, least of all the Palestinians, the Israelis are simply ignoring international laws and conventions. And, as usual, the effects could be deadly for the people of occupied Palestine.

(Source / 28.03.2020) 

Israeli jets carry out night strike in Gaza Strip


Despite the fight against the outbreak of the coronavirus, Israeli occupation carried out airstrikes in the besieged Gaza Strip, causing much fear and horror among children.

Security sources in Gaza said that the Israeli airstrikes targeted farms in different areas across the Gaza Strip.

Ministry of Health officials reported that tens of children and women arrived to hospitals suffering from trauma and horror attacks.

The previous Israeli aggression on Gaza took place in February when the Israeli occupation forces killed two Palestinians and a military bulldozer recorded in a video lynching one of them, a prompting a 50-missile Palestinian response.

(Source / 28.03.2020) 

Gaza faces coronavirus alone after a 14-year lockdown

The Israeli attitude toward the besieged coastal strip will remain intact – with or without the virus outbreak, Gazans should die silently

By Dr Ahmet Alioglu

Gazans, who are uniquely shielded by the ongoing compulsory isolation and quarantine, better understand the existing challenge of the world in the wake of the coronavirus epidemic.

Humans never thinks of the blessings they have unless they’re lost or about to vanish. Freedom to move is an unequivocal human right that is taken for granted everywhere except in conflict zones or besieged areas like the Gaza Strip. People living there have been tirelessly calling on the international community to help them obtain their universal rights or at least alleviate their suffering, yet all calls were in vain.

In the wake of the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, people from all walks of life have started digging on means and mechanisms of coping with a lockdown. For several years the Gaza Strip, the tiny enclave that has been besieged by Israel and neighbouring Egypt, has been languishing in an utter isolation and lockdown. Unlike today’s coronavirus lockdown, Gazans have suffered unbearable power cuts, denial of medical care, shortage of basic needs in addition to three devastating wars that claimed thousands of lives.

Today, uniquely shielded by the ongoing compulsory isolation and quarantine, Gazans better understand the existing challenge of the world in the wake of the coronavirus epidemic. Until last week, Gaza was virus-free. Prayers were held all around the Gaza Strip and Dua and supplications of forgiveness and recovery included all humans with no exceptions. Last Sunday, the first two cases of COVID-19 in Gaza were confirmed.

Much of Gaza’s population live in congested refugee camps in extended families living in the same property. With movement in and out of the territory strictly constrained as they are already cut off from the world, an outbreak of the virus in Gaza might be delayed but not for long. Doctors and experts warn that the suffocating siege, along with densely-packed refugee camps and extremely fragile health care system, have created impeccable conditions for an outbreak.

The crippling blockade has collectively punished and impoverished all of Gaza’s residents. In 2018, Donald Trump’s administration eliminated funding to the United Nations Relief and Work Agency. UNRWA provides vital life-saving services, health care and education to refugees in the Middle East including the Gaza Strip. These funds used to go to education for 500,000 boys and girls, vaccinations and health clinics that provide services to over three million refugees and a basic level of dignity for millions who would otherwise lead lives of despair.

Due to political rivalry, the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank hasn’t only relinquished the beleaguered enclave, it imposed sanctions and denied employees their salaries. This multi-dimensional dilemma is exacerbated by the Egyptian regime that has closed the only border crossing for the past decade. It has been partly reopened in the past two years. Gaza has had no airport since it was bombarded by Israel in the early 2000s at the outset of a second Palestinian intifada, or uprising.

Therefore, the Israeli blockage, Trump’s elimination of funds, the Palestinian Authority’s sanctions and Egypt’s ongoing isolation of the tiny coastal area turned Gaza into an ultravulnerable entity to the virus outbreak. Palestinians are closely following the pandemic through unremitting media coverage and preparing for the worst.

The Israeli embargo and the PA’s immature political stances have inflicted tremendous damage to Gaza’s health facilities that has immensely deteriorated over the past decade. One could imagine how difficult it will be for the Gaza Strip to face the pending threat of the disease with only 60 ICU beds for its two million people and not all are operational due to staff shortages.

It was Turkey, a firm supporter of the Palestinian cause, which pledged to back the Palestinians in their fight against coronavirus. The Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has reportedly phoned the Palestinian leadership and stressed Turkey’s support for Palestine in combating the virus.

On Sunday, Qatar announced $150 million in aid to the Gaza Strip over a period of six months, to support United Nations humanitarian programmes in the Palestinian territory and efforts to contain the new coronavirus outbreak.

With very limited resources, Hamas authorities in the Gaza Strip have started to build 1,000 isolation cabins near the southern border with Egypt. Businessmen and hotel owners have voluntarily offered their hotels and premises to be used as quarantine centres.

Israel’s attitude has been ironically different in the West Bank. The coronavirus outbreak has done what local and international politicians and activists have been unable to do. It has sparked an extraordinarily high level of cooperation and coordination between the Palestinian Authority and the Israelis.

Israel so far has 1,442 documented cases of COVID-19 out of a population of 8.6 million (1.9 million are Arabs), with 59 cases in the Palestinian territories. On March 18, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin called the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to say that mutual cooperation is inevitable. However, while the world governments are taking urgent measures to face the unprecedented threat of the disease, Israeli authorities destroyed hundreds of hectares of agricultural land in two Bedouin communities in the Negev desert in the occupied territories.

Such an attitude indicates that Israeli authorities are willing to cooperate for one reason, its citizens’ own safety. The chances that the imminent danger of the disease change the Israeli standpoint towards the Palestinians is slim. The Israeli attitude toward the besieged coastal strip will remain intact – with or without the virus outbreak, Gazans should die silently.

(Source / 25.03.2020) 


Nablus (QNN)- Israeli bulldozers started this morning to expand the illegal settlement of Shevot Rahil, which was built on land confiscated from Jaloud village, according to WAFA.

Ghassan Daghlas, in charge of the Israeli settlements file in the north of the West Bank, said that the dredging operations are being carried out only a few hundreds of meters away from the school of Jaloud village.

He added that the new expansion works are based on a decision by the Israeli Minister of War Neftali Bennet, aiming at connecting the illegal settlements of Shevot Rahil and Shilo with other settlement outposts to the east.

The Palestinian village of Jaloud is surrounded and besieged by illegal settlements from three sides. The occupation state has grabbed most of its agricultural lands.

(Source / 24.03.2020) 

Israeli occupation murder Palestinian youth in West Bank

‘While the world is busy in fighting the outbreak of the coronavirus, Israeli occupation continues killing the Palestinians and carrying out aggression on their rights,’ Palestinian resistance group said

Israeli occupation forces opened first on Monday night at two Palestinian youth near West Bank village of Na’lin, killing one and wounding the other.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health named the Palestinian, who was killed by the Israeli occupation forces, as Sufian al Khawaja, 29, noting he was from the village of Na’lin near the West Bank city of Salfit.

Israeli occupation forces captured the body of the Palestinian youth and said they had been chasing the other who was wounded.

According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, the Israeli occupation forces prevented Palestinian paramedics from offering first aid treatment to the dead and left him bleeding to death.

The Israeli occupation forces claimed that the two Palestinians threw stones at Israeli settlers’ vehicles in the area so that they were targeted.

The Palestinian Resistance Movement Hamas described the Israeli murder of the Palestinian youth at this time as an “immoral action” and “opportunism.”

In a statement, Hamas said: “While the world is busy in fighting the outbreak of the coronavirus, Israeli occupation continues killing the Palestinians and carrying out aggression on their rights.”

(Source / 23.03.2020) 

Four Palestinian prisoners inside Israeli prison contracted coronavirus

According to the organisation, the infections started with one inmate who recently came into contact with an Israeli interrogator

Israeli occupation authorities have informed Palestinian prisoners at Megiddo prison in Israel that four cases of novel coronavirus have been detected inside the facility.

The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS), an organisation advocating for Palestinians imprisoned by Israel, said on Thursday that four Palestinian prisoners in Megiddo Sections 5, 6 and 10 have contracted the virus through one Israeli investigator.

According to the organisation, the infections started with one inmate who recently came into contact with an Israeli officer during interrogations in the city of Petah Tikva.

“The prison administration has officially informed the inmates about the infections, and everyone is on high alert,” the PPS said in a statement shared with journalists.

“Prisoners are facing today the danger of infection from the prison guards and investigators,” it added.

The PPS called on authorities to intervene to protect the inmates from Covid-19, by providing disinfectants and taking preventive measures recommended by the World Health Organisation.

Israeli occuaption forces have been raiding prisons and imposing restrictions on Palestinian prisoners.

The Israeli Prison Services confiscated on Wednesday the belongisings of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in several of its prisons due to their repeated requests for disinfectants.

(Source / 19.03.2020) 

Largest Israeli party proposes bill to execute Palestinian prisoners

In 2017, Avigdor Lieberman, the then Israeli defence minister, introduced a bill allowing the execution of Palestinian prisoners

The right-wing Israeli Likud party headed by current Crimes Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proposed on Wednesday bill calling for executing Palestinian political prisoners.

Reporting Miki Zohar, the head of the Likud faction in the Knesset, the Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom said that the party also proposed another bill to annex the Jordan Valley, the Northern Dead Sea and the desert of Al Khalil (Hebron) in the occupied West Bank to Israel.

It is worth noting that Avigdor Lieberman, the head of Yisrael Beitenu, who is currently endorsing the head of Blue and White party, Benny Gantz, for the prime minister post, has called for the heads of the Palestinian prisoners to be chopped off with an axe.

Lieberman has also described the Palestinians inside Israel as a “fifth column” and called them “enemies.”

“We will see how they will work together with those [Palestinians in Israel] who work against the state,” Zohar said.

In December 2017, Lieberman, who then served as defence minister, introduced a bill allowing the use of the death penalty against Palestinian prisoners. The bill did not go through the Knesset.

(Source / 19.03.2020) 

Rachel Corrie, US peace activist killed by Israel

Corrie believed that her western features and blonde hair would deter the bulldozer, but she was wrong as the driver of the bulldozer was an Israeli Jewish soldier

A 23-year-old American peace activist was crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza Strip, while she was trying to stop demolition of Palestinian homes, 17 years ago.

Rachel Corrie was murdered on 16 March 2003 and became one of the main names of supporters who were killed for supporting the Palestinian cause.

Born in Olympia, Washington, Corrie dedicated her life to human rights, defending Palestinian rights in particular.

She was the youngest of three children of Craig and Cindy Corrie, who described their family as “average American, politically liberal, economically conservative, middle class.”

Corrie was known for her love for peace and defending Palestinian rights, frequently exposing violations by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territories.

In 2003, she had gone to Gaza for her senior-year college assignment; to connect her hometown with southern Gaza town of Rafah, as part of a sister cities project.

During her stay, she engaged with members of the International Solidarity Movement, a pro-Palestinian NGO.

On 16 March 2003, Corrie defied an Israeli bulldozer in hopes of stopping it from demolishing the home of a Palestinian family.

Corrie believed that her western features and blonde hair would deter the bulldozer, but she was wrong as the driver of the bulldozer was an Israeli Jewish soldier.

She was crushed to death when the Israeli bulldozer driver ran over her repeatedly, according to eyewitnesses.

The people of Gaza described her as a “martyr” and staged a massive funeral for their American friend.

An Israeli investigation into her death concluded that it was an accident.

Neither the international community nor Corrie’s parents have accepted the Israeli explanation.

In 2005, Corrie’s parents filed a civil lawsuit against Israel, asserting that she had either been intentionally killed or that the soldiers had shown criminal negligence.

They sued for a symbolic $1 in damages.

An Israeli court rejected the lawsuit in 2012 ruling that the Israeli government was not responsible for her death.

The ruling was slammed by human rights organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, as well as activists.

An Irish aid ship that set out for Gaza in 2010 named itself after Rachel Corrie and her story has been told in several documentary films portraying the plight of Palestinians.

(Source / 16.03.2020) 

Israel’s discrimination against Palestinians even with coronavirus (COVID-19)

Israeli Prison Service has said that it was considering imposing quarantines on prisons if an outbreak occurs

Israel has failed to provide real-time coronavirus (COVID-19) updates in Arabic for Palestinian citizens who make up around one-fifth of its population, Adalah, a group that advocates for the rights of Arab community, has revealed.

“An examination of the Israeli health ministry’s website revealed that ongoing updates related to coronavirus (COVID-19) are being issued only in Hebrew; Arabic-language updates are issued only after significant delays,” Adalah said.

“In addition, the ministry’s social media posts and smartphone app are accessible only in Hebrew,” the rights group added.

Adalah stated that the failure to provide up-to-date information in Arabic “not only violates the right to equality but also constitutes an immediate danger to public health.”

Al Mezan, a human rights group based in Gaza, also stated that prison authorities had not taken adequate measures to protect the health of some 5,000 Palestinians held in Israel’s prisons and detention centres.

This includes the failure to provide information in Arabic and holding Palestinians in overcrowded conditions with eight Palestinians per cell, versus four Israelis per cell on average.

Israeli prisoners are allowed to receive family visits with a glass partition while Palestinians are not allowed such visits.

The Israeli Prison Service has said that it was considering imposing quarantines on prisons if an outbreak occurs.

It was planning on evacuating a prison so it could serve as a quarantine centre if any prisoners contract coronavirus (COVID-19).

(Source / 16.03.2020) 

What happens if Coronavirus reaches the Gaza Strip

What is needed is a fundamental and structural change that would emancipate the Palestinian healthcare system from the horrific impact of the Israeli occupation

By Ramzy Baroud 

While the question carries great urgency for all Palestinians living under Israel’s military occupation, the Gaza situation is particularly complex and extremely worrying.

Nearly 130 countries have already reported cases of COVID-19 disease, one of several epidemics that are caused by the Coronavirus. If developed countries, such as Italy and South Korea, are struggling to contain the deadly virus, one can only imagine what occupied Palestinians would have to face should the virus strike.

In fact, according to health officials, the Coronavirus may have already reached Palestine following a visit by a South Korean delegation in the period between February 8 and 15, which included a tour in the major Palestinian cities of Jerusalem, Nablus, Jericho, Hebron, and Bethlehem. Nine people who were on the delegation tested positive for Coronavirus after their trip, although it is not known when they contracted the virus.

The Palestinian Authority scrambled to contain the fallout of the news, which caused palpable panic among a population that has little faith in its leadership, to begin with. PA Prime Minister, Mohammad Shtayyeh, “hoped” that the “owners of the unknown facilities” would exercise personal responsibility and shut down their business and other establishments that are open to the public.

The PA Ministry of Health followed this by declaring a “state of emergency” in all hospitals under PA jurisdiction in the West Bank, designating a quarantine centre near Jericho for those arriving from China and other areas that are hard hit by the Coronavirus.

For Palestinians however, fighting an outbreak of the Coronavirus is not a straightforward matter, even if the dysfunctional PA facilities follow the instructions of the World Health Organization (WHO) to the letter.

Palestinians are separated by an Israeli matrix of control that has excluded many communities behind large cement walls, military checkpoints, and impossible to navigate army ordinances that are inherently designed to weaken the Palestinian community and to ease the Israeli government’s mission of controlling Palestinians and colonizing their land.

What can the PA do to come to the aid of tens of thousands of Palestinians in the so-called Area C of the occupied West Bank? This region is entirely under the control of the Israeli army, which has little interest in the welfare of the Palestinian inhabitants there.

Such questions would have to be considered in the context of what WHO refersto as “health inequalities” among Palestinians, on the one hand, and between Palestinians and privileged illegal Jewish settlers, on the other.

In some way, many Palestinian communities are already quarantined by Israel, but for political, not medical reasons. An outbreak of the Coronavirus in some of these communities, especially the ones that are cut off from proper healthcare and well-equipped medical facilities, would prove disastrous.

The worst of fates, however, awaits Gaza, should the deadly and fast-spreading virus find its way from all directions through the hermetic siege, which engulfs this minuscule, but densely populated region.

Gaza, which is enduring its 12th year of Israeli siege and is still reeling under the massive destruction of several Israeli wars, has already been declared “uninhabitable” by the United Nations.

However, the misery of Gaza never ceases to unfold. Not a single UN report on Gaza’s ailing medical facilities or preparedness for at least the last ten years has used any positive or even hopeful language.

Last March, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory, Mr. Jamie McGoldrick, bemoaned Gaza’s “chronic power outages, gaps in critical services, including mental health and psychosocial support, and shortages of essential medicines and supplies.”

In January, the Israeli rights group B’Tselem spoke of an unprecedented health crisis in besieged Gaza, one that is not fuelled by the Coronavirus or any other such epidemics but by the fact that Gaza’s barely functioning hospitals are desperately trying to deal with the fall-out of the thousands of injuries resulting from the Great March of Return which has taken place on the Gaza side of the dividing fence.

B’Tselem has already reported on “the unlawful open-fire policy Israel is using against these demonstrations, allowing soldiers to shoot live fire at unarmed protesters who endanger no one, has led to horrific results.”

The Israeli group cited moderate estimations provided by WHO that, by the end of 2019, Gaza physicians had to perform limb amputations on 155 protesters, a number that includes 30 children. This, in addition to dozens of protesters who have become permanently paralyzed because of spinal injuries.

This is only a small part of a much more multifaceted crisis. Not only measles and other highly contagious infectious diseases are finding their way back to Gaza, water-borne diseases are also spreading at an alarming rate.

Ninty-seven percent of all of Gaza’s water is not fit for human consumption, according to the WHO, which begs the question: How could Gaza hospitals possibly confront the Coronavirus epidemic when, in some cases, clean water is not even available in Gaza’s largest hospital, Al-Shifa?

“Even when it is available, doctors and nurses are unable to sterilize their hands because of the water quality,” according to the RAND Corporation.

WHO director in Palestine, Gerald Rockenschaub, spoke assuredly about his meeting with PA Minister of Health, Mai Al-Kaila, in Ramallah on February 25, where they discussed the need for more “preparedness measures” and “additional priority preparedness actions” in the West Bank and Gaza.

WHO also announced that it is “coordinating with local authorities in Gaza” to ensure the Strip’s preparedness to cope with the Coronavirus.

Such soothing language, however, masks an ugly reality, one that WHO and the entire United Nations have failed to confront over the course of a decade.

All previous reports on Gaza by WHO, while accurately detailing the problem, did little to diagnose its roots or to fashion a permanent solution to it. Indeed, Gaza’s hospitals are as dysfunctional as ever, Gaza’s water is as dirty as ever and, despite repeated warnings, the Strip is still unfit for human habitation, thanks to the brutal Israeli siege and to the silence of the international community.

The truth is, no amount of preparedness in Gaza – or, frankly, anywhere in occupied Palestine – can stop the spread of the Coronavirus. What is needed is a fundamental and structural change that would emancipate the Palestinian healthcare system from the horrific impact of the Israeli occupation and the Israeli government’s policies of perpetual siege and politically-imposed quarantines – also known as apartheid.

(Source / 14.03.2020)