Analysis: Palestine Is Occupied, Segregated, And About To Face COVID-19

Israel’s military control of Gaza and the West Bank has only grown more brutal during the pandemic. Workers are held in quarantine, prisoners have been infected, and Israel is withholding money that could be used to help contain the outbreak.

By Taya Graham  

Israeli Journalist Gideon Levy says that as more and more communities face movement restrictions to slow the spread of the coronavirus, maybe they will get a taste of what Palestinians experience every day living under Israeli military occupation.

But for Palestinians, living under restrictions day to day hasn’t made it easier to cope with the new, intensified measures to contain COVID-19. Instead, Palestinians are realizing that the combination of occupation and coronavirus is torturous.

The Gaza Strip’s heavily controlled border offered some protection from the virus until recently. But the first cases of COVID-19 have been diagnosed in the besieged Gaza Strip, and doctors warn of a humanitarian catastrophe in a small dense area lacking in medicine and health facilities.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) asked the Israeli government to release 11.5 million dollars which the Israeli government has been withholding. Back in February 2019 the Israeli government started to deduct money the Palestinian Authority gives to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails from the taxes that it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority. These prisoners do not receive sufficient food and the PA must support them, thereby subsidizing the Israeli occupation, and removing money from the Authority’s budget.

The PA is now appealing to Israel to release those funds in order to help them deal with the spread of COVID-19, offer treatment to people who become sick, and establish effective quarantine areas. It is, of course, also in the interest of Israel that the Palestinian Authority contain the virus effectively, but the Israeli government refused and continues to hold on to the stolen money.

Abdul Nasser Soboh, the Gaza director of the World Health Organization (WHO), warned about how lack of resources could exacerbate the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the Israeli government doesn’t want the coronavirus outbreak to undermine its efforts to deal with its own housing shortage. Businesses are closed all over Israel, but not construction sites, where workers must still show up to work despite the risk of infection and keep on building houses. Most construction workers on those sites are Palestinians coming from the West Bank.

Fearing that workers traveling between the West Bank and Israel will accelerate the spread of the disease, Israeli Minister of Defense, Naftali Bennet ordered that Palestinian workers must remain in Israel for at least two weeks and be separated from their families and their social circles if they want to keep their jobs. This creates a serious dilemma for workers: should they take on a dangerous job at low pay to help provide for their family who they will not even be allowed to see?

Construction worker, Ibrahim Abu Safiya had trouble breathing, so his Israeli employer suspected that he was infected with COVID-19. He was physically thrown out of Israel through the checkpoint and left feverish on the ground without medical help or someone to accompany him. He eventually tested negative for COVID-19.

Palestinian Prime Minister, Mohammed Shtayyeh made this public announcement:

“All citizens who return from abroad should be in quarantine for 14 days in centres in their cities. Fifth, banks will work in emergency an situation, bank employees should show their work cards. Sixth, Palestinian workers are not allowed to go to settlements at all. Seventh, we request Israel to provide human conditions for workers who sleep in their work places (in Israel).”

There are still over five thousand Palestinians held as political prisoners in Israeli jails. Four have recently reported symptoms of infection, and the Israeli secret police interrogator who questioned them was diagnosed with the coronavirus. Under these conditions, all Palestinian prisoners are at a very high risk of the disease. Sahar Francis, director of the Addameer Palestinian prisoners right’s organization, spoke to the Real News.

(Source / 29.03.2020) 

Remembering Therese Halasa, Palestinian revolutionary: Rima Tannous’ prison story

herese Halasa as a young fighter in the camps and later in life, living in Amman after her release.

On 28 March 2020, Therese Halasa, lifelong struggler and Palestinian revolutionary, passed away in Amman, Jordan, at the age of 66. Born in Akka, occupied Palestine ’48 in 1954 to Palestinian and Jordanian parents, she grew up under Israeli martial law imposed on Palestinians. After the 1967 war and the occupation of the remainder of Palestine – the West Bank, Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip – she was inspired by the same call as thousands of young Palestinians, flocking to the camps of the fighting movements of the Palestine Liberation Organization. She finished high school in Akka, studied nursing in Nazareth and left Palestine in 1971, without informing her family, to join the Palestinian liberation movement.

In an interview with scholars of the Learn Palestine project, she described her own crossing of the border from 1948 Palestine to Lebanon to join the Palestinian revolution. She emphasizes that she did not join the revolution due to “suffering, but due to a sense of patriotism inspired by Abdel Nasser and my father.”

As an 18-year-old Palestinian fighter in 1972, Theresa was one of four militants who hijacked a Belgian Sabena plane, Flight 571, en route to Tel Aviv. Their demand: freedom for 315 Palestinian and Arab prisoners in Israeli jails.

The four Palestinian fighters, Therese Halasa, Rima Tannous (a young Jordanian woman), Ali Taha Abu Sneineh and Abdel-Aziz al-Atrash, and the plane were attacked by Israeli forces after landing in Palestine, disguised as Red Cross workers and aircraft technicians. The forces that attacked the plane and killed Abu Sneineh and al-Atrash – as well as a 22-year-old passenger, Miriam Anderson – included Ehud Barak and Benjamin Netanyahu; Netanyahu himself was shot in the shoulder, and Therese Halasa was severely injured.

Rima Tannous and Therese Halasa were brought before an Israeli military court and sentenced to life imprisonment, but they continued to educate themselves and struggle behind prison bars. Rima Tannous told her story of torture under Israeli interrogation in an account published after her release from Israeli prisons in 1979 in a prisoner exchange; Therese Halasa was released four years later in 1983 in another prisoner exchange with the Palestinian resistance. At the time of her release, she was engaged with other prisoners in a collective hunger strke.

After her release, Therese Halasa was expelled from occupied Palestine. She lived the rest of her life in Jordan, marrying and working as a nurse caring for patients with disabilities. She continued to tell her story, including to documentarians and filmmakers researching the history of the Sabena hijacking and the Palestinian revolution. Despite her illness and battle with lung cancer, she continued to be present at countless sit-ins and demonstrations for Palestine in Jordan.

Rima Tannous, Therese’s comrade-in-arms, shared her story of involvement, resistance, torture and oppression inside Israeli prisons in a statement published in 1979 after her release as part of a collection, Palestinian Political Prisoners: Struggle Behind Iron Bars, published by the PLO’s Unified Information Department and the Committee for the Defense of Political Prisoners in Israeli Jails. We present Rima’s story, below, which includes a detailed description of her and Therese’s reunification behind bars, as well as their interaction with international political prisoners jailed by Israel for their involvement in the Palestinian struggle

(Source / 29.03.2020) 

Microsoft divests from Israeli facial recognition firm AnyVision


WASHINGTON DC, Sunday, March 29, 2020 (WAFA) – After 8 months of campaigning to demand that Microsoft drop their investment in AnyVision, the Israeli facial recognition company, the hi-tech giant finally announced its divestment from the former.

“This is a huge and sorely needed victory at a time when corporations and governments have begun to use COVID-19 as an excuse to violate human rights,” said a statement by the international campaign to demand Microsoft divestment from AnyVision, adding: “A win against a massive corporation like Microsoft is meaningful and important.”

The campaign said that “with Microsoft workers, community leaders in Seattle, MPower Change, and SumOfUs – we can make significant change happen and get a corporate giant to do the right thing.”

The campaign explained that as soon as Microsoft announced a $74 million investment in AnyVision last June, a campaign was launched “demanding they drop the facial recognition tech company, which an investigation found was secretly surveilling Palestinians.”

“AnyVision’s surveillance violates Palestinians’ human rights, privacy, and basic dignity. Over 75,000 people signed our combined petitions to Microsoft, and we held a powerful action at Microsoft HQ where we delivered those names in person.”

(Source / 29.03.2020) 

Arab League urges international organizations to expose Israeli racist policies

CAIRO, Sunday, March 29, 2020 (WAFA) — The Arab League called today on the relevant international bodies and organizations to expose Israel’s racist policies, condemning the Israeli practices and violations against the basic Palestinian rights and addressing these Israeli practices, in accordance with the rules of international law and what international conventions and laws established.

On the occasion of the 44th anniversary of Land Day in Palestine, the Arab League hailed the steadfastness and struggle of the Palestinian people, reiterating its absolute support for the brave Palestinian struggle to restore their national rights and establish an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

The Arab League stressed support to the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territories, including the people in the lands occupied in 1948, expressing appreciation for their struggles in defense of their existence, their rights, their lands and their identity.

The Israeli occupation authorities are exploiting the concern and focus of the world to combat the coronavirus outbreak to implement their plans to seize and Judaize the Palestinian lands, said the Arab League.

(Source / 29.03.2020) 

Palestine reports 6 new coronavirus cases

Palestinian workers disinfect places of worship as a preventive measure amid fears of the spread of the novel coronavirus on 12 March 2020 [Ashraf Amra/ApaImages]

Palestinian workers disinfect places of worship as a preventive measure amid fears of the spread of the novel coronavirus on 12 March 2020 

The Palestinian government confirmed six new coronavirus cases in the occupied West Bank on Sunday.

In a statement, a government spokesman said the new patients included five members of the same family in the town of Qatanna.

The new infections bring the number of coronavirus cases in Palestine to 104, including nine cases in the Gaza Strip.

Data compiled by the US-based Johns Hopkins University shows worldwide infections over 665,000 mark with over 30,800 deaths. More than 141,700 have recovered from infections. After first appearing in Wuhan, China in December, the virus has spread to 177 countries and regions.

So far, nine out of the 103 coronavirus cases confirmed in the Palestinian territories have been confirmed in the Gaza Strip.

Gaza’s hospitals, which were overwhelmed during the protests by gunshot wounds and amputations, are now gearing up for the challenge of containing the coronavirus in the coastal enclave of two million Palestinians, many living in refugee camps.

A Terrifying Scenario: Coronavirus in ‘Quarantined’ Gaza 

(Source / 29.03.2020) 

Israeli Navy Shoots, Injures Palestinian Fisherman off Gaza Coast

One Palestinian fisherman was wounded by Israeli forces on Sunday, while fishing off the coast of the northern besieged Gaza Strip, according to local sources.

Sources told Quds News Network (QNN) that the fisherman was in his boat fishing, when Israeli soldiers opened fire at him, wounding him with a rubber-coated metal round. The man was transferred to the Shifa’ hospital where his condition was described as moderate.

Palestinian fishermen have been subjected to repeated assaults by the Israeli occupation, by restricting Gaza’s fishing zone and targeting fishermen by shooting them, arresting them or confiscating their boats and other fishing equipment.

Many Palestinians in Gaza make a living by selling the fish they catch, however their incomes suffer due to the limits and obstacles imposed on them by the occupation state.

(Source / 29.03.2020) 

Israeli Police in Occupied East Jerusalem Invade a Number of Palestinian Neighborhoods, Abduct One

Israeli police forces, at dawn Sunday, invaded the occupied city of East Jerusalem, storming a number of Palestinian neighborhoods, according to local sources.

Palestinian sources and witnesses said that Israeli police forces invaded through out Saturday night and early on Sunday, al-‘Isawiya village and stormed a number of neighborhoods.

Sources added that upon their invasion, crowds of Palestinian residents took to the streets, in protest, as Israeli police fired tear-gas canisters and sound grenades, to disperse them.

It was noted that the police forces broke into several Palestinian homes in the village, which is located in northeastern Jerusalem, and abducted one Palestinian, identified as Ayham Dary, 32.

Along with the abduction of Dary, the police stormed the homes of Palestinian youth, who have been ordered by the Israeli authorities to remain under house arrest.

Witnesses told media outlets that dozens of local youths protested the Israeli police invasion by throwing stones and Molotov cocktails as a means of resistance. No injuries were reported.

For many years now, Israeli police in the occupied city of East Jerusalem, have frequently invaded Arab-Palestinian localities, conducting inspections of homes and abducted Palestinian men, women and children.

Over the past couple of months, such Israeli practices have been reportedly increased, since the US Trump administration announced, it’s so-called vision for peace between Palestinians and Israelis, known as ‘the deal of the century’.

Palestinians, at both the official and popular levels, have rejected this vision vehemently, as it was a one sided deal, for the benefit of the occupation state of Israel .

(Source / 29.03.2020) 

Dr. Ashrawi Sends Message of Solidarity from Palestine

Member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, on Saturday, sent a message of solidarity to the rest of the world, in the ongoing fight against COVID-19, Palestinian WAFA News Agency reported.

Dr. Ashrawi conveyed her message from Youtube, “From Palestine, from our little corner of the world, we reach out to the rest of the world in solidarity, in friendship, compassion and human empathy.”

The PLO member extended gratitude towards health care professionals all over the world, as well as the countries that have sent aid to countries of lesser means.

Dr. Ashrawi concluded, “So long as we maintain this sense of empathy and compassion that humanity will prevail no matter how difficult the times are right now.”

According to WAFA, at this time, 9 cases of COVID-19 have been detected in the besieged Gaza Strip, an additional 97 cases have been confirmed in the occupied West Bank.

(Source / 29.03.2020) 

PCHR Condemns Israeli Authorities Discriminatory Treatment of Palestinian Workers Suspected with Coronavirus

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights strongly condemns the Israeli occupation authorities’ discriminatory and unethical treatment towards Palestinian workers in Israel, by dumping workers suspected with coronavirus symptoms in the West Bank at checkpoints and seam points within the Annexation Wall that separates Israel and the West Bank without providing them with proper medical help or checkup and without coordination with the concerned Palestinian authorities in order to allow the latter to attend to them as per the medical protocol put in place by the Palestinian Authority (PA) to combat the spread of COVID-19 in the West Bank.

According to PCHR follow-up, since the early morning hours on Tuesday, 24 March 2020, Israeli authorities threw out thousands of Palestinians who work in Israel into West Bank cities via checkpoints and seam points at the Annexation Wall.

The workers were left at Hizma checkpoint, northeast of occupied East Jerusalem; checkpoint (300), southeast of occupied East Jerusalem; Tarqumiyia checkpoint, northwest of Hebron; Metar Crossing, south of Hebron; Beit Sira checkpoint in Ramallah; Ariel checkpoint, north of Salfit; Hawarah checkpoint, southeast of Nablus; Jabara checkpoint, south of Tulkarem; Barta’a checkpoint, southwest of Jenin; and al-Jamla checkpoint, north of Jenin.

Several workers gave their testimonies to PCHR and indicated that they went to their workplace after their employers had promised to guarantee them shelter for 2 months, a safe work environment and to not have them sent back to the West Bank due to the restrictions on movement enforced by the state of emergency.

They added that upon their arrival to their workplaces they were kept in inadequate and unsanitary housing conditions amidst the Coronavirus outbreak in Israel and in areas where a high number of COVID-19 cases were reported.

After some workers showed signs of illness and coronavirus symptoms, Israeli employers informed the Israeli authorities who deported the workers to the West Bank.

Ibrahim Melhem, Spokesman for the Palestinian government, announced in a statement on 26 March 2020, that 16 persons from Bidou village, northwest of Jerusalem, tested positive for COVID-19, including an elderly woman who died.

He confirmed that the virus spread in the village via infected workers who returned from Israel, including the son (37) of the deceased elderly woman and her brother-in-law (57). In Bethlehem, and the elderly woman was diagnosed with COVID-19 and it is presumed that she caught the virus from her son, a worker at “Efrat” settlement.

Melhem asserted that Palestine had entered the pre-danger phase in terms of a coronavirus spread, demanding workers to take extreme caution, saying: “for your own sake, take extreme cautionary measures. Our vulnerability lies with the workers, and we can stifle this virus with at-home self-isolation.”

On Friday, 27 March 2020, 5 new coronavirus cases were recorded and 2 at Artas village, south of Bethlehem; raising the total of confirmed cases in Palestine to 91, including 17 recoveries and 1 death.

In light of the above, PCHR:

  • Demands that the international community force Israeli occupation authorities to abide proper medical and humanitarian treatment with infected workers and those suspected with coronavirus symptoms, and respect their right to receive medical treatment;
  • Demands that the PA enforce all necessary measures to protect the returning workers, including an expedited medical checkup and to admit them to medical quarantine to protect their lives and their families’ and for the sake of public safety; and
  • Calls upon the workers who had returned from Israel to take the maximum cautionary measures and to abide by the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) guidelines, including undergoing the necessary medical examinations immediate upon return to their cities in the West Bank; refraining from socializing with others until examination results and to commit to self-isolation for the period decided by MOH.

(Source / 29.03.2020) 

Coronavirus cases in Palestine rise to 104

Occupied Palestine (QNN)- The spokesman for the Palestinian government, Ibrahim Melhem, announced that six new cases were detected in the village of Qatanna in occupied Jerusalem, bringing the toll to 104 cases.

Melhem said that the six new cases include 5 for members of the same family; a 12-years-old girl, three women between 30-50 years old, and a man in his fifties.

Melhem had announced the first case in the village of Qubeiba on Saturday. The total number of coronavirus cases in the Palestinian territories has reached 104, including 18 recoveries and one death.

(Source / 29.03.2020)