A Gaza doctor handles a coronavirus test, 21 March 2020
Coronavirus testing has resumed in the Gaza Strip after Israel allowed five testing kits purchased by the World Health Organization (WHO) into the enclave, a Gaza health ministry spokesman said on Monday.
But the spokesman, Ashraf al-Qidra, said the kits would be of “limited immediate help” because they could be used to test only about 500 people in a densely populated territory of two million.
“We began testing immediately after receiving the kits late (Sunday) night,” Qidra said. “We need to carry out these tests all the time and therefore, we are in need of thousands of testing kits.”
On April 8, health officials in Gaza said they had run out of testing kits and voiced concern that a shortage of medical supplies could lead to the rapid spread of infection in the territory.
Gaza has 13 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus, all in quarantine.
Israel has maintained a blockade of the enclave for more than a decade, saying the measure is necessary to stop weapons and funds from reaching its enemy Hamas, an Islamist group that runs Gaza.
But Colonel Sharon Biton of COGAT, an Israeli defence ministry office that liaises with the Palestinians, said it was cooperating with “representatives of the international community” to maintain public health in Gaza.
Israeli and Palestinian officials said that in addition to the testing kits, Israel has allowed a PCR machine into the territory. The equipment analyses testing samples to determine whether they contain the genetic fingerprint of the coronavirus.
The machine was donated by a US-based charity, Qidra said.
“During the next week we aspire to be able to buy a good quantity of testing kits to bring into Gaza,” said Abdelnaser Soboh, director of the World Health Organization’s sub-office in the territory.
Qidra said that on Monday, hundreds of Palestinians stranded outside Gaza will begin arriving home and would require tests. Upon arrival, they will be sent to quarantine facilities in the southern Gaza Strip for three weeks.
Hamas has closed schools, mosques and wedding halls and banned large street gatherings in Gaza to try to stem contagion. It has not moved to impose a lockdown, saying the measure was not yet necessary.
Palestine-Turkey Friendship Hospital built by Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) is transferred to Palestinian officials on the instruction of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to battle coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak in Gaza City Gaza on March 30, 2020
By Iqbal Jassat
As the coronavirus pandemic overwhelms the world, bringing to a halt almost all social, cultural and economic activities, Turkey is in the firing line. Bizarrely, it is facing the wrath of Israel for allegedly holding up hundreds of crates of medical equipment destined for the settler-colonial state.
Bloomberg reported earlier that the shipment destined for Israel included personal protective equipment (PPE), including surgical masks and gloves. Quoting an anonymous Turkish official, the report claimed that Ankara had approved the sale for “humanitarian reasons” on a quid pro quo basis with Israel allowing the Erdogan government to provide similar aid to the Palestinians.
Not so, insist Israeli sources. Disputing Bloomberg’s report, the unnamed sources told the Hebrew-language Ynet News that the transaction had no “connection to aid to the Palestinians”. They stressed that the deal was commercial, not humanitarian.
While the standoff continues, the plight of the Palestinians under Israel’s military occupation and siege now having to face the devastating impact of the virus with limited resources is both tragic and sad. If Erdogan really has had to resort to arm-twisting in order to manipulate Turkey’s ability to provide medical essentials to the Occupied Palestinian Territories, it speaks volumes of the brutality of Israel’s pervasive apartheid policies.
In other words, humanitarian aid which might allow the Palestinians to treat those who have contracted Covid-19, never mind implement prevention measures, is dependent on the goodwill of their brutal colonial overlords. The debacle of Turkey trading with Israel while unable to send a consignment of much-needed humanitarian assistance to Palestine illustrates the Zionists regime’s racist stranglehold over the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
This raises other issues too. Although Erdogan is an enigmatic political giant, regarded as an iconic figure by millions of Muslims around the world, his ties to Israel are questionable. Following the murderous attack by Israeli commandos on the Mavi Marmara Freedom Flotilla in international waters almost 10 years ago, which killed nine volunteers (another died later of his wounds) and wounded dozens of others whilst on a mercy mission to Gaza, relations between Turkey and the Zionist regime soured. Nevertheless, trade between the two remained robust; last year, Turkey was in Israel’s top ten of export destinations. There does appear to have been a paradigm shift during Erdogan’s tenure, but the pendulum has not swung away from Israel.
It would be laughable if it was not so serious that Turkey, a formidable political and economic power in the region straddling Asia and Europe, is either unable or unwilling to send its navy across the Mediterranean to the shores of Gaza and offload medical supplies, electricity plants and field hospitals; that it has to make trade-offs with the colonial-settler regime and almost beg to get humanitarian aid into the besieged enclave.
Erdogan is not shy of military forays into neighbouring Syria, and the Turkish army has extended its reach into Libya too. However, for reasons best known to the leadership in Ankara, Turkey is reluctant to send aid to the Gaza Strip by sea.
Meanwhile, the likely trade-off to allow Israeli aircraft to land and collect cargo from Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base, the NATO home of a US Air Force contingent, may be underway. Whether the status of the transaction is commercial or humanitarian, is irrelevant. What matters is that Turkey is being played by a colonial entity to the detriment of Palestine’s enduring freedom struggle.
The people of occupied Palestine rightly remind the world that far from being a humanitarian issue, their struggle is to attain justice and freedom; their resistance against Israeli occupation and tyranny is rooted in a heroic struggle spanning many decades. And that they remain resolute in their quest for liberation even as they are confronted with huge medical challenges to combat the coronavirus in addition to everything else that the Israeli occupiers inflict upon them.
A Palestinian worker showing coronavirus symptoms was abandoned, on Sunday by Israeli settlers, outside the illegal Burkan settlement, near the town of Salfit in the occupied West Bank, Palestinian WAFA News Agency reported.
Abdullah Kmail, the Governor of Salfit, said the worker, who had remained at his workplace in Israel for several weeks, was found dumped near the Burkan colony, in the central West Bank.
He added that the Palestinian Ministry of Health picked up the sick man, tested him for the coronavirus and moved him to safety.
The governor denounced the inhumane practice of dumping sick Palestinian workers at Israeli checkpoints or outside illegal settlements.
There have been some incidents where Palestinians employed in Israeli settlements in Palestine and inside Israel, that have been discarded for showing signs and symptoms of the infectious disease.
While the Palestinian government has taken measures to contain the virus, Israel’s lack of precautionary measures such as isolating the sick, puts the people in the occupied territories at greater risk.
Israeli soldiers invaded, on Monday at dawn, the town of Silwan, south of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem, and fired many gas bombs and concussion grenades at protesters, and several surrounding homes, wounding many Palestinians, including two infants.
The Wadi Hilweh Information Center in Silwan (Silwanic) said many army jeeps invaded Abu Tayeh neighborhood in Silwan, and attacked Palestinian youngsters who protested the invasion into their community.
Silwanic added that the soldiers fired a barrage of gas bombs and concussion grenades at the protesters, in addition to surrounding homes, causing several Palestinians, including two infants, twelve and five months of age, to suffer the severe effects of teargas inhalation.
Local medics provided the needed treatment to the wounded Palestinians, and moved the four-month of age along with his father to a local hospital.
On Sunday, the soldiers abducted two young men, identified as Mo’taz Shweiki and Malek Gheith, after stopping their car in the ath-Thoury neighborhood in Silwan.
Israeli soldiers abducted, on Monday at dawn, seven Palestinians, including an elected legislator and former political prisoner, from their homes in several parts of the occupied West Bank, including the occupied capital, Jerusalem.
The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) has reported that the soldiers invaded and ransacked the home of legislator Mohammad Abu Teir, 69 years of age, in the central West Bank city of Ramallah, and abducted him.
It is worth mentioning that Abu Teir, from occupied Jerusalem, is a former political prisoner who spent more than 35 years in Israeli prisons. Last year, Abu Teir was abducted and imprisoned for seven months under the arbitrary Administrative Detention orders without charges or trial.
Although he is a native of occupied Jerusalem, Abu Teir was forcibly exiled from the city ten years ago, and was never allowed back.
Furthermore, the soldiers abducted Ibrahim Abu Raddaha from his home in Betunia town, west of Ramallah, and Abdul-Jawad Omar Hamayel from al-Biereh nearby city.
The soldiers also invaded Azzoun town, east of the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia, and abducted two former political prisoners, identified as Mahmoud Nidal Salim and Mo’awiya Rayashiyya, from their homes.
In Bethlehem, south of occupied Jerusalem, the soldiers abducted Shadi Mohammad Hasasna, while Ahmad Mousa was abducted from his home in Nablus, in northern West Bank.
In related news, several armored military vehicles invaded many neighborhoods in Qalandia refugee camp, north of Jerusalem, and drove around for a few hours before withdrawing.
Several armed Israeli colonial settlers reportedly caused flooding of Palestinian-owned grape farms, on Monday, in north of the occupied West Bank city of Hebron.
Local Palestinian media activist, Mohammad Awwad, told media outlets that for the second time in a week, several armed settlers from the nearby illegal colonial settlement of Gush Etzion, flooded grape farm lands in the Beit Ummar village, with large quantities of waste water, causing grape trees to flood, causing damage.
Awwad quoted grape farmers from the Palestinian families of Sabarna and Awwad, as saying that armed Israeli settlers have been intentionally flooding their farm lands with large quantities of waste water, over the past few years, causing a great deal of financial losses, due to damage of their grape crops.
The media activist estimated the size of those grape farms at more than 4 acres.
The southern West Bank city of Hebron is a major supplier of grapes across the occupied Palestinian territories, being of excellent quality for both consumption and export.
Bethlehem (QNN)- Groups of Israeli settlers uprooted 350 olive seedlings in the village of Al Kader in southern Bethlehem on Sunday.
The head of the Commission for the Resistance of the Wall and Settlements in Bethlehem, Hasan Breijieh, said that groups of Israeli illegal settlers in the village uprooted and confiscated olive seedlings belonging to the citizen Khaldoun Sbeih.
Earlier today, Settlers in the same village had also chopped off 50 olive trees, owned by Safiyyiddin Da’doa, in the village.
Three new cases of coronavirus were confirmed in the West Bank bringing overall total in Palestine to 272, and one case recovered of young woman for overall total of 59 recoveries, according to government spokesman Ibrahim Milhem.
He said a 23-year-old youth from the twon of Shyoukh, northeast of Hebron, and another 28-year-old man from Yatta town, south of Hebron, both workers in ‘Israel’, have tested positive for the virus last night.
He added the two were kept in solitary confinement after their return from work in ‘Israel’ and therefore did not mingle with anyone.
He confirmed that a young woman from Ramallah recovered to bring overall total of recoveries to 29.
He also said one new case of coronavirus for a man in his 30s, who used to work at an ‘Israeli’ factory in occupied Jerusalem, was confirmed on Monday morning in the village of Rafat, southwest of Ramallah.
There were unconfirmed 36 corona cases in the occupied East Jerusalem, which would bring total in all the occupied Palestine to 308.
Total cases in the West Bank is currently put at 259 and 13 in the Gaza Strip, and 50 recovered in the West Bank and nine in the Gaza Strip for a total of 59 recoveries. Two have died of the virus in the West Bank.