Human rights groups urge protection of Palestinian workers during COVID-19 pandemic

Palestinian workers try to enter occupied Palestine through a checkpoint between the West Bank city of Hebron and Beersheva, March 22, 2020

Ramallah (QNN) – The Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council and the Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations Network sent today a joint open letter to the International Labour Organization (ILO) on the occasion of International Workers’ Day, urging the latter to take action to protect the rights, livelihoods, and dignity of Palestinian workers during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Following is the full text of the letter:

We, the undersigned civil society organisations, trade unions, and individuals around the world, address this joint open letter to the International Labour Organization (ILO) on the occasion of International Workers’ Day, urging you to take action in the framework of your mandate to protect the rights, livelihoods, and dignity of Palestinian workers, women and men, and their families during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. The ILO Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work has confirmed the essential role that ILO, one hundred years since its creation, must play for the achievement of ‘social justice, democracy and the promotion of universal and lasting peace.’[i]

We welcome the ILO’s recent statement calling on governments around the world to take action to prevent and control the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. As stressed by the ILO, ‘It is only by implementing occupational safety and health measures that we can protect the lives of workers, their families and the larger communities, ensure work continuity and economic survival.’[ii] We also welcome the ILO’s Palestinian Decent Work Programme, as a serious effort to enhance employment and livelihood opportunities and realise fundamental principles and rights at work for Palestinian women and men.[iii]

Around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated vulnerabilities linked to poverty, discrimination, conflict and occupation. In Palestine, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the forefront Israel’s regime of institutionalised racial domination and oppression over the Palestinian people as a whole, which amounts to the crime of apartheid.[iv] As highlighted in your latest 2019 report on the situation of workers of the occupied Arab territories, ‘the Palestinians themselves have little scope to improve their destiny. The Israeli occupation is stifling in every respect, dominating almost every aspect of Palestinian life.’[v] Throughout the occupied Palestinian territory, the Israeli occupying authorities have continued to indiscriminately target Palestinians’ livelihoods during the COVID-19 pandemic, including through attacks on farmers, shepherds, and fishermen in the Gaza Strip.[vi]

During COVID-19, the susceptibility of Palestinian workers to the pandemic has been compounded, with the Israeli occupying authorities continuing to prioritize economic considerations over the inherent rights and dignity of Palestinian workers. With the start of the outbreak, the Israeli occupying authorities allowed approximately 60,000 Palestinian workers employed in Israel to temporarily reside in Israel for a maximum period of two months during the emergency situation, with Israeli employers mandated to ensure adequate housing, proper sanitation, and food for workers.[vii] Yet, workers have faced dire housing conditions, forced to sleep at construction sites or in greenhouses,[viii] while Palestinian workers displaying symptoms of the flu have been thrown at checkpoints without coordination to ensure they would receive treatment.[ix] At the same time, Israel has refused to test Palestinian workers for COVID-19, thereby failing to take adequate measures to curb the spread of the pandemic in the occupied Palestinian territory and undermined containment and mitigation efforts by the Palestinian Authority for returning workers. The Palestinian Health Ministry has found that workers, their families, and their contacts make up a majority of COVID-19 infections in the West Bank.[x]

“As we commemorate International Workers’ Day and the achievements in advancing labour rights across the globe, Palestinian workers employed in Israel and in illegal Israeli settlements continue to endure dire working conditions, receive lower wages than their Israeli counterparts, and are denied access to healthcare and other benefits, amongst other discriminatory policies and practices of the Israeli occupation.[xi] In particular, the Israeli construction sector, which is dominated by Palestinian workers from both sides of the Green Line and which has continued as an ‘essential service’ during COVID-19, is considered to be one of the most dangerous sectors for work-related accidents, as it lacks the necessary supervision by the Israeli government, whose responsibility it is to ensure that employers uphold Palestinian workers’ rights.

“As highlighted by the ILO, COVID-19 has exposed the fragility of economies across the globe, with the pandemic having the potential ‘in the longer-term [to] dramatically amplify cycles of poverty and inequality.’[xiii] It is therefore more urgent than ever to address the prolonged denial of the individual and collective rights of the Palestinian people as the root cause depriving Palestinians of an adequate standard of living, including the right to work. Notably, United Nations Special Rapporteurs have recalled Israel’s legal duty to ensure that Palestinians receive essential health services,[xiv] expressed concerns over Israel impeding efforts to effectively control and mitigate the impacts of COVID-19, and called for equal access to treatment and testing without discrimination.

Accordingly, we the undersigned civil society organisations, trade unions, and individuals call on you today, as Director-General of the ILO, to:

Send an urgent letter to the Minister of Labour and Minister of Health in Israel, calling on the Israeli occupying authorities to urgently provide Palestinian workers with their three months’ wages during the emergency period, as per Israeli labour law; to take all necessary measures, including with employers, to guarantee healthcare coverage for Palestinian workers during and in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic; to provide Palestinian workers staying in Israel with adequate housing, food, water, and sanitation, as essential to upholding their rights and mitigating the effects of COVID-19 amongst workers and their families upon return; and
Invite the 109th session of the International Labour Conference to hold Israel, the occupying power, accountable for its violation of Palestinian workers’ rights through the adequate supervision of the Committee of Experts to implement the recommendations of the report on the situation of workers of the occupied Arab territories and for the enforcement of the conventions it has ratified.
Yours sincerely,


The Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council (PHROC), comprising:

Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights
Al-Haq – Law in the Service of Mankind
Aldameer Association for Human Rights
Defense for Children International (DCI) – Palestine
Hurryyat – Center for Defense of Liberties and Civil Rights
Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center (JLAC)
Muwatin Institute for Democracy and Human Rights – Observer Member
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR)
Ramallah Center for Human Rights Studies (RCHRS)
The Independent Commission for Human Rights (Ombudsman Office) – Observer Member
The Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations Network (PNGO), comprising:

Agricultural Development Association (PARC)
Alrowwad Cultural and Arts Society
Arab Center for Agricultural Development
Democracy and Workers’ Rights Center (DWRC)
Early Childhood Resource Center (ECRC)
Health Work Committees (HWC)
Human Rights and Democracy Media Center – SHAMS
Land Research Center (LRC)
Ma’an Development Center
Musawa – The Palestinian Center for the Independence of the Judiciary and the Legal Profession
Palestinian Center for Democracy and Conflict Resolution (PCDCR)
Palestinian Center for Peace and Democracy (PCPD)
Palestinian Family Planning and Protection Association
Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS)
Palestinian Women’s Development Society (PWDS)
Palestinian Working Women Society for Development (PWWSD)
Psycho-Social Counselling Center for Women (PSCCW)
Sareyyet Ramallah
Tamer Institute for Community Education
Teacher Creativity Center
The Palestinian Businesswomen’s Association – ASALA
Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC)
Union of Health Work Committees (UHWC)
Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees (UPWC)
Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counseling (WCLAC)
Women’s Studies Centre
Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) – Palestine
Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) – Ramallah

Asociación Alnakba, Venezuela
Asociación Árabe Guatemalteca
Asociación Comunidad Palestina, Guatemala
Asociación Salvadoreña Palestina
Association Belgo-Palestinienne (ABP)
Association France-Palestine Solidarité (AFPS)
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
Cine Fértil, Argentina
Comunidad Colombo Palestina
Comunidad Palestina de Chile
Fundación Cultural Colombo Palestina
Habitat International Coalition – Housing and Land Rights Network
Instituto Brasil Palestina (IBRASPAL)
Juventud Chileno-Árabe por Palestina de Valdivia
Mouvement contre le Racisme et pour l’Amitié entre les Peuples (MRAP)
Mouvement International de la Réconciliation (MIR)
Organización Solidaria con Palestina (OSP-Chile)
Plateforme des ONG françaises pour la Palestine
The Palestine Institute for Public Diplomacy (PIPD)
The Palestinian National Institute for NGOs (PNIN)
Unión Árabe de Cuba
Unión General de Estudiantes Palestinos (UGEP-Chile)
Unión Palestina de América Latina (UPAL)
Youth Development Association (YDA)

(Source / 01.05.2020) 

Palestine declares state of emergency to tackle coronavirus outbreak

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

Four new cases of the coronavirus have been detected in the occupied West Bank bringing the total number of infections to 35 and forcing the government to declare a 30-day state of emergency yesterday.

The cases have been found in the Bethlehem and patients have been quarantined.

Iran, which has the highest number of coronavirus cases in the world after China, has reported 11,364  people infected with 514 deaths. Satellite pictures, first reported by the New York Times, show two large burial trenches, recently dug in Behesht-e Masoumeh cemetery, about 80 miles south of Tehran, which are expected to be used to bury those affected.

Arizona Democrat@LiterateLiberal  

Satellite images show Iran has built mass graves amid coronavirus outbreak …

Satellite images show Iran has built mass graves amid coronavirus outbreak

Trenches in city of Qom confirm worst fears about extent of the epidemic and the government’s subsequent 13:20 – 13 Mar 2020Twitter Ads information and privacy

In Lebanon, banks will close tomorrow in order to take steps to sanitise branches and prevent the spread of coronavirus, the country’s banking association said in a statement today. Lebanon has so far recorded 77 cases of coronavirus and three deaths, according to the health ministry.

READ: Lebanese pupils mess around in online class

The Turkish health minister said a second patient has been confirmed with coronavirus today. The Turkish presidential spokesman also announced primary and secondary schools will be closed next week to avoid the spread of the virus. Some 90,000 mosques were sterilised across the country ahead of Friday prayers today.

On social media, users shared what appeared to be a video of the late Iraqi President Saddam Hussein talking about the coronavirus, fuelling claims the disease was began as part of biological warfare efforts.

Mohammed Soleiman3@Mohammed230619  

The former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein talks about the threat of Corona virus nearly 20 years ago in this video. …يَمَنٌ وشَامُ@wrt97 

عشان تتأكد من ان #فيروس_كورونا مصنوع من الدول الإرهابيه للإطاحة بالاقتصاد اسمع #صدام شو قال عنه يوم هددوه وقالو له بنرميك بصاروخ #كورونا.

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But Raghad Saddam Hussein, the daughter of the late president, denied the authenticity of the video and wrote on Twitter that “the clip is fabricated”, and that the voice is of someone else and not that of her father.

رغد صدام حسين@RghadSaddam  

فيديو مفبرك .. و الصوت مركب لشخص آخر يقلد صوت الرئيس الشهيد صدام حسين ..

سبق و ان نشر هذا الشخص نفسه اكثر من فيديو يقلد صوت الشهيد صدام حسين ،، و من يدقق يعرف الصوت تقليد و ليس صوت الرئيس الشهيد ..

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1,20309:16 – 8 Mar 2020Twitter Ads information and privacy

READ: Now is the time for unity in the Middle East as coronavirus fears grip the region

(Source / 13.03.2020) 

COVID-19 Cases In Palestinian Territories Rise To 31

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A Palestinian woman today tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the occupied territories to 31.

Government spokesman Ibrahim Melhem announced that a Palestinian girl in her 20s from Beit Jala, the sister town of Bethlehem, has tested positive for coronavirus.

He added that of the 31 confirmed patients, 11 cases are females and 20 are males, and that three cases are under 18 years: one 16 years and another 17 years-old, along with a two-year-old baby girls. With the exception of one case in the northern West Bank city of Tulkarm, the rest are confined to the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem and area towns.

The health condition of the patients infected with the virus remained stable, he added, noting that 224 suspected cases were tested and the results were all negative.

Melhem stressed that the Palestinian government was doing what it can to contain the outbreak of the virus through declaring the state of emergency and taking a set of precautionary measures.

(Source / 13.03.2020) 

Gaza Health Ministry Advises Citizens Against Leaving The Enclave

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The health ministry in the Gaza Strip has advised Palestinian citizens not to leave the enclave and asked them to take necessary precautions so as not to get infected with the coronavirus.

The ministry, in a statement distributed to citizens on Saturday, said that unless there is urgent need for travel citizens should not leave the Strip for the time being.

It added that all those returning to the Strip via the Rafah border crossing will be held in quarantine out of keenness on safety of all residents.

No cases of coronavirus were detected in Gaza while 16 cases were reported in the West Bank.

(Source / 08.03.2020) 


MAP Logo

(Last update: 6 March 2020)

Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) is carefully monitoring the situation with regards to Coronavirus (COVID-19, or 2019-nCoV) in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), Israel and Lebanon. We are currently engaged in contingency planning with regards to potential impacts on our programmes and the need for additional support to health services, and will update supporters as this develops. We will also update supporters with any relevant changes to fundraising challenge events as necessary.


Currently there are seven confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the occupied Palestinian territory. The latest local updates from the World Health Organization (WHO) are available on their website here.

The Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced a 30-day “state of emergency” on 5 March, closing schools, restricting non-essential travel between areas, and canceling foreign tourist reservations and international conferences. MAP has therefore suspended visiting medical missions to the West Bank for this period.

There are 16 confirmed cases in Israel. The latest global updates from the WHO are available here.


Currently there 16 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Lebanon. The latest local updates from the WHO are available on their website here.

MAP’s community midwives are taking precautionary preventive measures including hand washing, antiseptic lotions, and gloves, and are conducting individual health education sessions for beneficiaries. They have already received hard copies of the WHO printed corona virus material and are reporting daily to our Maternal and Child Health centres and visiting beneficiaries in the camps as usual.


The latest travel advice from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office regarding COVID-19 is available on their website here.

The WHO’s health and prevention advice to the public is available here, and advice from NHS England here.

(Source / 08.03.2020) 

Coronavirus in Palestine

Ramallah (QNN) – The Palestinian Ministry of Health said today that the number of people who have been infected with coronavirus in Palestine has risen to 19, and are quarantined in Bethlehem district.

Three people who came in contact with the infected cases at Angel Hotel in Bethlehem were tested positive and placed in quarantine, said the ministry.

It said tests were conducted until today on 500 people suspected of contracting the disease but all turned out negative.

It said 32 others are kept in a quarantine at Angel Hotel in Bethlehem, the same hotel were the confirmed 16 cases of coronavirus are kept, and 15 others at Paradise Hotel also in Bethlehem where infected tourists seem to have been.

(Source / 08.03.2020) 

As A Precautionary Step, Ramallah City Sterilizes Mosques, Churches And Homes For The Elderly

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As part of its effort to combat the deadly coronavirus disease, the Ramallah municipality decided following an emergency meeting to take preventive measure starting with sterilization of a number of the city’s institutions as per the priority plan set by the municipality.

According to this plan, all places of Muslim and Christian worship as well as Ramallah City Hall in all its sections will be sterilized in the first stage, which will be followed by sterilization of homes of the elderly, societies and municipal facilities, and then waste containers and their environs and waste transport vehicles.

Ramallah Mayor Mousa Hadid said these measures were necessary in order to secure the safety of the city’s population and visitors.

The Ramallah municipality decided as well to postpone all activities it has organized and scheduled for March, close many facilities including the Tourist Information Center, the Recreational Complex, the Cultural Palace, the Old City Hall, the municipal theater and all public parks.

(Source / 07.03.2020) 

Coronavirus cases in Palestine rise to 16

JERUSALEM, PALESTINOW.COM – Palestinian Health Minister Mai al-Keileh announced Friday that the number of cases of COVID-19 in Palestine has risen to 16.

She said in a press statement that nine new cases were confirmed in the West Bank city of Bethlehem.

READ : Palestine divided over coronavirus counter-measures

The statement also said that there are 120 cases under home quarantine.

On Thursday, al-Keileh announced that Palestine’s first seven cases were detected in Bethlehem.

Following al-Keileh’s announcement, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday declared a state of emergency in Palestine for 30 days.

In Gaza, schools and universities announced on Friday afternoon that they decided to close until further notice.

The United Nations Relief and Work Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East also announced that it decided to temporarily close all its schools in the Gaza Strip as a precautionary step.

READ : Bethlehem on high alert with suspected corona virus

Meanwhile, the local health ministry in Gaza announced on Friday afternoon that the Gaza Strip is so far free of the novel coronavirus.

It called on the populations of the Gaza Strip to abide by the instructions of the health ministry and the World Health Organization.

(Source / 07.03.2020) 

Palestine divided over coronavirus counter-measures

People wear masks to protect themselves from coronavirus (Covid-19) in Jerusalem on 6 March 2020

JERUSALEM, PALESTINOW.COM – Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas announced a state of emergency for 30 days in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, as a counter-measure against the spread of the coronavirus.

READ : Amazon will now deliver for free to Palestine

Following Abbas’s announcement, PA Prime Minister Mohamed Shtayyeh broadcast the closure of all of the government institutions in both parts of the country.

However, the government in Gaza, run by Abbas’s rival movement Hamas, confirmed that there was no need for such measures, as there have been no coronavirus cases found in the coastal enclave.

Following this stance, the universities and various institutions run by Fatah, and people loyal to Abbas, affirmed their commitment to the announcement and closed their institutions for 30 days.

READ : Bethlehem on high alert with suspected corona virus

The Education Ministry in Gaza announced a work suspension for two days, while the Islamic University and the University College of Applied Sciences suspended work until further notice. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) also announced work suspension on Saturday.

(Source / 07.03.2020)