Lebanon: Dbayeh refugee camp faces coronavirus threat amid UNRWA absence

A boy sits near the sacks of flours during a food aid distribution by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) on 15 January, 2018 [Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency]

A boy sits near the sacks of flours during a food aid distribution by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) on 15 January, 2018

Dbayeh refugee camp (east Beirut) is currently witnessing systematic sterilisation campaigns supervised by the civil committee in the camp, to prevent the spread of the coronavirus amid an absence of follow-ups conducted by the Lebanese authorities and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

The Dbayeh refugee camp is located in the east of Beirut and was established in 1956 on endowment land belonging to the Lebanese Maronite Order.

The official of the civil committee of the camp, Wissam Kassis, stressed on: “The residents’ eagerness and awareness regarding the prevention of the virus.”

“The camp is almost empty of passers-by. Shops and establishments have been closed, and everyone is committed to home quarantine,” explained Kassis in an interview with Quds Press.

PHOTO ESSAY: Life as a Palestinian refugee in Lebanon

He added: “We are coordinating with the Palestinian embassy to obtain a sterilisation machine.”

“The Palestinian Civil Defence and Shifaa NGO have also sterilised a number of institutions and homes this week. There is also full cooperation with various societies and institutions in order to complete the sterilisation campaigns and protect our camp and our people from the threat of coronavirus,” indicated Kassis.

Regarding the role of the Municipality of Dbayeh, Kassis confirmed that: “The municipality has not done anything yet regarding the protection of Palestinian refugees,” criticising UNRWA’s failure to “distribute sterilisers, as nothing has yet been received from the organisation.”

The official of the camp’s civil committee called on the residents to: “Stay in their homes during this period until this ordeal is over.”

On Thursday, the Municipality of Dbayeh decontaminated the church of Our Lady of the Cave and St Joseph’s Church, and placed banners on the seafront asking people not to gather or walk around.

In an interview with Quds Press, the executive director of the Shifaa NGO, Majdi Kraiem, informed that a continuous sterilisation campaign has started in Dbayeh refugee camp, in coordination with the civil committee and UNRWA.

As part of its preventive campaign against the coronavirus in the Palestinian camps, Shifaa arrived in Dbayeh refugee camp on Wednesday, and started a sterilisation campaign of commercial stores and institutions.

“The organisation has so far sterilised the young nuns’ Nazareth House, St. George’s Roman Catholic church, in addition to the UNRWA clinic, the Environmental Health Store, the Churches’ Complex for Social Services and the Caritas Centre in the camp, as well as the sterilisation of shops, stores and a number of homes and public places,” added Kraiem.

He continued: “We have also distributed and placed a number of awareness posters relating to the prevention of the virus in stores and on walls.” Kraiem praised the residents’: “Keenness to adhere to the regulations, as the roads were almost empty during the sterilisation campaign.”

READ: Palestine refugees in Lebanon start anti-coronavirus sterilisation drive

UNRWA spokesperson in Lebanon, Hoda Samra, confirmed in a previous statement to Quds Press news agency, that: “No coronavirus infection has been registered among the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.”

The Lebanese Ministry of Health issued its daily report on Thursday, stating that: “The number of laboratory-confirmed coronavirus infection cases has reached 149, including the 16 new cases confirmed on Thursday.”

The Lebanese minister of health, Hamad Hasan, specified that: “Six cases have been confirmed,” demanding “the isolation of a number of areas, namely: Byblos, Kesrouane, and Baabda.” His decision was however rejected by the cabinet, as the government demanded to strictly compel citizens to stay in their homes.

(Source / 21.03.2020) 

Bethlehem: 17 recovered from coronavirus, released from quarantine

Palestinian Ministry of Health and Security Services have released 17 Palestinians who have recovered from the coronavirus [maannews.net]

Palestinian Ministry of Health and Security Services have released 17 Palestinians who have recovered from the coronavirus

The Palestinian Ministry of Health and Security Services have released 17 Palestinians who have recovered from the coronavirus while in quarantine in the West Bank city of BethlehemMa’an News Agency reported on Friday.

The 17 people were released from Angel and Paradise hotels which were used as quarantine centres in Bethlehem, several hours after the tests indicated their recovery.

According to the Ministry of Health, all of them are going to remain under house quarantine for an additional 14 days.

READ: Bethlehem in lockdown following suspected cases of coronavirus

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health in the West Bank recorded a new case in the city of Salfit, raising the number of people diagnosed with coronavirus in the occupied West Bank to 48, including the 17 people who recovered and were released from quarantine.

The Palestinian ambassador in Paris announced that the former Minister of Culture, Dr Anwar Abu Aisha, tested positive for coronavirus among four other Palestinians in France.

Sources informed Maan News Agency that they are being treated at a French hospital and that the minister is recovering well.

It is worth noting that the Israeli occupation authorities refused to allow Dr. Abu Aisha to return to his home in the occupied West Bank three months ago.

(Source / 21.03.2020) 

Israel closes most gates of Al-Aqsa Mosque

Israeli forces block the doors of Al-Aqsa mosque complex on 11 August 2019 [Faiz Abu Rmeleh/Anadolu Agency]

Israeli forces block the doors of Al-Aqsa mosque complex on 11 August 2019

On Friday Israeli occupation forces closed most of the gates of Al-Aqsa Mosque and restricted the entry of Palestinian worshippers over claims of fighting the spread of coronavirus, Arabi21.com reported.

As part of their restrictions, the Israeli occupation forces allowed the entry of the Palestinian worshippers to their holy site, only through three gates.

The three gates were closed and reopened in light of the Palestinian warning of Israeli plans to exploit the coronavirus crisis to promote a Judaisation agenda.

READ: Coronavirus shuts Al-Aqsa’s enclosed prayer places

Reports by Palestinian activists and NGOs revealed that the closure of the gates of Al-Aqsa Mosque coincided with the detention and deportation of Palestinian officials working at Al-Aqsa Mosque, including the director and deputy director of the holy site.


Meanwhile, Palestinian youths threw stones at military vehicles of Israeli occupation forces raiding the Palestinian neighbourhood of Al-Issawiya on Friday morning.

Al-Issawiya has been under a fierce Israeli military campaign for years, escalating nine months ago as the Israeli occupation closed many of the streets in the Palestinian neighbourhood, detained tens of its residents and imposed house arrest on many others, in an attempt to implement a settlement plan in the area.

(Source / 21.03.2020) 

Average Palestinian consumes 87 litres of water per day

A Palestinian girl fills jerrycans with spring water in Salfit, West Bank on 27 June 2016 [Nedal Eshtayah/Apaimages]

A Palestinian girl fills jerrycans with spring water in Salfit, West Bank on 27 June 2016 

The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), the Palestinian Water Authority (PWA) and the Palestinian Meteorological Department have disclosed that the average Palestinian consumes 87.3 litres of water per day.

This rate has reached 90.5 litres per day in the West Bank, according to joint statistics issued by the three institutions, while recording an improvement in recent years following the completion of water projects that have been able to boost the water resources and reduce waste.

Currently in Gaza, the per capita share has reached 83.1 litres, with a decrease of 5.2 litres compared with last year, as a result of the population growth. This takes into account the high water pollution rates and the amount of potable water fit for human consumption, divided by the population, which equals only 22.4 litres of fresh water per capita per day.

The average Palestinian consumes less than the minimum global recommendation of water consumption, as a result of Israeli control of more than 85 per cent of Palestinian water resources.

Settlements stealing Palestinian water - Cartoon [Sarwar Ahmed/MiddleEastMonitor]

The quantity of water extracted from the coastal basin in the Gaza Strip amounted to 177.6 million cubic metres during 2018, which is considered inadequate. This has led to the depletion of water reserves to a level less than 19 metres below sea level and resulted in saltwater and wastewater intrusion into the reservoir, which constitutes more than 97 per cent of the coastal basin water, rendering it incompatible with World Health Organization (WHO) standards.

Palestine relies mainly on water extracted from underground sources, accounting for 77 per cent of available resources.

The amount of water drawn from the wells of the aquifers (the eastern, western and north-eastern aquifers) in the West Bank for the year 2018 reached around 99 million cubic metres. The limited use of surface water is mainly caused by the occupation authorities’ control over the waters of the Jordan River and prevention of Palestinians from using the water of the valleys.

According to data released in 2018, Palestine started producing quantities of desalinated water, which is expected to increase in the coming years, with the start of operating desalination plants in Gaza, to increase significantly with the implementation of the central desalination plant program.

READ: Israel has ‘stolen 90% of Jordan Valley’

The Israeli measures contribute to limiting the ability of Palestinians to exploit their natural resources, especially water, forcing them to compensate for the shortage by purchasing water from Israeli national water company, Mekorot. The quantity of water purchased for domestic use reached 85.7 million cubic metres in 2018, constituting 22 per cent of the amount of available water, estimated at 389.5 million cubic metres, 25.5 million cubic metres of which came from the water of Palestinian springs, 274.2 million cubic metres from underground wells and 4.1 million cubic metres of desalinated water.

By deducting the 177.6 million cubic metres of water extracted from the coastal basin in the Gaza Strip, for not complying with WHO standards, specifically removing 45.5 per cent of the water available for the use of Palestinians, Palestinians are only left with 211.9 million cubic metres, including the amounts purchased from Mekorot, desalinated water and groundwater.

The data provided by the Palestinian Meteorological Department for the year 2019 shows that precipitation rates ranged between 780mm in the Nablus station and 137mm in the Jericho station, while the average annual rainfall was 660mm in the Nablus station and 166mm in the Jericho station. The amounts of rain were concentrated in most governorates in the month of December.

OPINION: Israel’s Latest ‘Security Problem’, Who’s to Blame for Gaza’s Environmental Crisis 

The 2019 meteorological report indicated that temperatures have tended to be higher than average for most stations. The highest increase was reported at the Jericho station by 2.5°C, while it was 0.2 per cent below the overall average for the Ramallah station.

The same report conveyed that the evaporation rates in Palestine have increased in most of the available stations, with the highest level of evaporation at the Jericho the station reaching 2.416mm and the lowest at Ramallah station by 1.708mm.

The data confirmed that the relative humidity for the year 2019 ranged between 43 per cent in the Jericho station and 75 per cent in the Nablus station. The lowest annual relative humidity was recorded in May reaching 29 per cent in the Jericho station, while the highest rate was recorded in March at the Ramallah station, reaching 87 per cent.

95% of water in #Gaza is unfit for human consumption


#Infographic by Visualizing Palestine

(Source / 21.03.2020) 

Gaza doctors lead Friday prayers to warn about coronavirus

Palestinian doctors led Friday prayers in several mosques across the Gaza Strip [palinfo.com]

Palestinian doctors led Friday prayers in several mosques across the Gaza Strip

A number of Palestinian doctors led Friday prayers in several mosques across the Gaza Strip to spread awareness about the coronavirus.

This came after a joint announcement made by the Ministry of Health and the Endowment Ministry in Gaza, stating that doctors would lead the Friday prayers in order to raise awareness about the coronavirus among the Gaza residents.

The doctors wore their work uniforms while they led the prayers, and informed of recent information regarding the virus, and explained how to protect from the virus.

READ: Rights groups call for medical resources for Gaza to face coronavirus

In addition, the doctors advised on how to deal with anyone who appears to suffer from symptoms that could be related to the coronavirus.

It is worth noting that Gaza has not recorded any cases of coronavirus as it has been taking strict protective measures since the global outbreak of the pandemic.

(Source / 21.03.2020) 

PLO Official Applauds US Congress Efforts Against Israeli Policy of Home Demolitions

Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) welcomed, on Friday, the letter signed by 64 US lawmakers concerning the Israeli crime of home demolition, systematically perpetrated against Palestinian families, the Palestinian WAFA News Agency reported.

Dr. Ashrawi said in a statement; ‘This overdue scrutiny should be the beginning of accountability for Israel’s unchecked crimes, often overlooked by the US Congress. Home demolitions, forced transfers and collective punishment are serious crimes and constitute a grave violation of both international law and international humanitarian law.’

The statement continued; ‘Using American taxpayers’ money to commit these crimes is also in violation of the requirements of the Arms Export Control Act, which entails that US-supplied military equipment to Israel should only be used for true self-defense.’

(Source / 21.03.2020) 

Israeli Settlers Assault, Injure Palestinian Farmer in West Bank

A Palestinian man was injured Friday after being beaten by illegal Israeli settlers who broke into the site of abandoned Homesh settlement, south of Jenin in the northern occupied West Bank, a Palestinian official reported.

Ghassan Daghlas, a local monitor of illegal settlement activity in the northern West Bank, told Palestinian WAFA News Agency that Israeli settlers attacked and assaulted local villager, Mustafa Abu Za’bal.

Abu Za’bal, who was working on his farmland near the abandoned settlement of Homesh, suffered minor injuries from the attack, also had his horse stolen by the illegal colonists, according to Daghlas.

In related news, a group of armed Israeli colonists stormed Palestinian-owned farmlands, on Monday, near the illegal Gush Etzion settlement, south of Bethlehem in the southern occupied West Bank.

(Source / 21.03.2020) 


Ramallah (QNN)- The Minister of Health Mai Keileh on Saturday announced that four further coronavirus cases were registered, bringing the total to 52 cases.

Keileh said in an interview with Palestine Voice radio station that the new cases include three in Ramallah and one in occupied Hebron.

She added that the total number of coronavirus cases has reached 52, including 17 that are completely cured and left quarantine.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health has announced on Friday that it registered a new infection for a Palestinian man who came from Pakistan.

(Source / 21.03.2020) 


Occupied Palestine (QNN)- The United Nations stressed that the occupation state has a legal duty to ensure that Palestinians get all the necessary health services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“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 utilized to ‘combat the spread of contagious diseases and epidemics,’” said Michael Lynk, UN Special Rapporteur for the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967.

He added that the occupation state, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas bear the duty to provide essential health services and apply public health measures throughout this pandemic in a non-discriminatory fashion, the expert said.

“The right to dignity requires that all persons under their authority should enjoy equality of access to health services and equality of treatment,” he said.

Lynk also expressed his concern that the initial publications to increase awareness about the spread of COVID-19 issued by the Israeli Ministry of Health were almost exclusively in Hebrew, with virtually no information posted in Arabic.

He added that “any restrictions on human rights – such as access to health services or freedom of movement – must be strictly justified, proportionate and should only be curtailed for a length of time no longer than necessary and in a non-discriminatory manner.”

Lynk has previously stressed that the occupation state is in “profound breach” of its international obligations with regards the right to health of Palestinians living under occupation. Significant movement restrictions on patients and health workers already compromise Palestinians’ access to healthcare services. In the context of COVID-19, where patients’ conditions deteriorate rapidly as symptoms become more severe, any delays getting to hospital can be fatal.

(Source / 21.03.2020) 


Occupied Palestine (QNN)- The spokesman for the Palestinian government stated that the government will take a new series of preventive measures to avoid the spread of coronavirus.

The spokesman Ibrahim Melhem confirmed four new cases; three of them are students in Ramallah while the fourth is for a doctor in Hebron, who works in the Israeli Hadasah hospital.

Melhem added that the total cases have reached 52, including 17 cases that were cured.

He also revealed that the measures taken by the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) indicate that something is going on inside the jails and that the lives of Palestinian prisoners are in danger. He held the occupation state responsible for their safety.

“We are not sure about the situation there but we urge the International Red Cross and WHO to provide us with information about the situation inside Israeli jails”, Melhem said.

(Source / 21.03.2020)