Welcome to the Jewish Voice for Peace Health Advisory Council timeline on the spread of Covid 19 in Israel/Palestine.
This resource will be updated regularly to provide a full picture of the unfolding pandemic and the medical, political and economic ramifications in real time.
Please note that Coronavirus cases are an underestimate given the lack of testing and asymptomatic carriers.
As of May 23, the numbers of Coronavirus cases (as best I can figure out) in the region:
West Bank 547 (includes 179 in East Jerusalem)
As of May 16, the numbers of Coronavirus cases (as best I can figure out) in the region:
West Bank 534 (includes 173 in East Jerusalem)
As of May 9, the numbers of Corona virus cases (as best I can figure out) in the region:
West Bank 527 (includes 172 in East Jerusalem)
As of May 2, the numbers of Corona virus cases (as best I can figure out) in the region:
West Bank 500 (includes 164 in East Jerusalem)
As of April 26, the numbers of Corona virus cases (as best I can figure out) in the region:
(144 in East Jerusalem)
West Bank 319
As of April 19, the numbers of Corona virus cases (as best I can figure out) in the region:
West Bank 300
As of April 12, numbers of Corona virus cases (as best I can figure out) in the region:
West Bank 256
As of April 5, numbers of Corona virus cases (as best I can figure out) in the region:
West Bank 214
As of March 27, numbers of Corona viruses cases (as best I can figure out) in the region:
West Bank 82
There are also several organizations you may wish to donate to that are providing assistance to people in Palestine:
General Pandemic appeal from Grassroots International – Note: You may request them to restrict your donation to their COVID-19 Rapid Response to Palestine by marking that on your check. If you donate online, you may email them with the amount you donated and they will restrict the amount to the Palestine Rapid Response.
May 17-23, 2020
Health Inequities and COVID-19
The rise in the pandemic of racism and xenophobia during the COVID-19 pandemic:
As the incidence of COVID-19 infections is disproportionately affecting many communities of color (most notably in the US, African Americans, Latinx, Native Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders), there is concurrently a significant rise in racism and xenophobia. The below articles are not exhaustive on this, but represent the concern that this illness, like many throughout history, brings with it a rise in hate.
In this Washington Post article on May 19, health professionals of Asian heritage report on their personal experiences of having racist slurs and threats hurled at them and patients refusing to have these practitioners care for them. Each of these health practitioners are currently working on the front lines in caring for patients with COVID-19 infection. An additional story about a number of Asian American health professionals who responded by making a powerful video with the title, #IAmNotAVirus is found here.
A Washington Post interview with Professor Darren Hutchinson, Assoc Dean of the University of FL Law School, reveals how structural racism is intensified not only in the physical health disparities of the virus, but in terms of mental health toll and the historic trauma that is reactivated.
African American men fear the targeting and profiling that they face when wearing face covers.
On May 8, 2020, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that “the pandemic continues to unleash a tsunami of hate and xenophobia, scapegoating and scare-mongering” and urged governments to “act now to strengthen the immunity of our societies against the virus of hate.” Here is a statement by Human RIghts Watch urging governments to take meaningful steps to prevent the racism and xenophobia that has intensified since the beginning of the pandemic. (We all know how our government leaders have fueled such racism and xenophobia right from the top).
Oregon, for example has seen a 366% rise in hate crimes in 2020--many associated with the coronavirus pandemic.
These articles document the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on the Native American population, as well as the lack of resources available for native peoples to diagnose and treat the disease. The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are layered on top of the long history of dispossession and denial of resources, including those needed to provide healthcare, for the native population. There are many parallels between the situation of Native Americans and that of the Palestinians -- both indigenous peoples, huge numbers of whom were killed, whose land was stolen, and who have been impoverished and denied equal access to healthcare and other basic human rights. This is also the story of black and brown people in the U.S. and colonized people throughout the world.
And now to Israel/Palestine…
Al-Shabaka webinar Palestinian Leadership in the Time of Pandemic: In this policy lab, Al-Shabaka analysts Mohammed Al-Khaldi and Fadi Quran join guest host Marwa Fatafta to weigh in on current emergency measures in the West Bank and their ramifications on the Palestinian people's trust in leadership. They will also look at connections between the PA's past public health policies and their impact on its capacity to handle the pandemic.
May 17 Gaza
This video shows the creativity of a Palestinian artist in quarantine making cartoons to educate people about COVID-19 safety.
May 18 Israel
70% of cases of Covid 19 in Israel originated in the US. Approximately 1% of Israelis have been infected, far from “herd immunity.” Thousands of people who returned to Israel directly from hotbeds of the virus in the United States were not quarantined, due to Netanyahu’s fear of provoking Trump.
May 19 Occupied territories
As of 19 May, 567 Palestinians in total are confirmed to have contracted COVID-19 in the oPt, with a total of 20 new cases recorded during the reporting period. These include 179 in East Jerusalem,1 a total of 368 in the remainder of the West Bank, and just in the Gaza Strip. The number of active cases is 99, with 464 cases recovered and four deaths since the start of the epidemic. No deaths have been recorded since 20 April.
May 19 Gaza
In spite of isolation and lack of resources, this video shows how Palestinians found ways to celebrate Ramadan during the pandemic.
May 19 East Jerusalem & Israel
After two months of closure, Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque will reopen to Muslim worshippers after the Eid holiday. The Western Wall was opened with restrictions early in May and Israeli beaches will open this coming week.
May 19 West Bank
Although 80% of Palestinian coronavirus cases are in recovery and no new cases were detected for almost 10 days, 13 new cases were found in the village of Beit Ula in the Hebron district. Thought to stem from a man returning from work in Israel, the outbreak prompted a lockdown and 3-day ban on movement during the Eid al-Fitr celebrations.
May 19 Israel & the Occupied territories
Driven by mutual fears of Iran, relations between Israel and Gulf states have been thawing during the pandemic. With assistance from the UN, the first known commercial flight from the UAE to Israel brought 16 tons of medical supplies for the Palestinian Authority.
May 19 Israel
Over 2 ½ months, the medical focus has been on counting the sick, the tests and the ventilators, along with the mathematical models, the scenarios and the directives, as well as taking care of the critically ill. Doctors and researchers focused on testing, respiratory support, medications, and children.
May 20 Israel & Occupied territories
Palestinian grassroots organizations operating under Israeli occupation are stepping up to lead the response to the coronavirus pandemic, filling a gap left by a weakened Palestinian Authority (PA). While this activism has centered more around public health than politics, the atmosphere has drawn comparisons with grassroots organizing during the 1987 Palestinian uprising. Some observers are wondering whether the twin pressures from the pandemic and Israel’s looming annexation of part of the West Bank, sanctioned by the U.S. administration, could jump-start a long overdue national dialogue leading to institutional reforms.
May 20 Israel
The pandemic has been profitable and further entrenched the power of both private and state-owned military corporations. The militarization of Israeli society is underlined by the defense-related technology put to use in the pandemic response.
As Israel opens schools, Adalah, The Legal Center for Minority Rights in Israel, has petitioned the Israeli Supreme Court to connect Bedouin schoolchildren to systems for distance learning. Children in Bedouin villages stay sheltered because of crowded school conditions, but families lack computers and internet connections.
May 20 United Arab Emirates
Another personal story illustrates the family bonds and traditions that survive the lockdown during Ramadan through a mother’s instructions to her sons for cooking to break their fast.
May 21 East Jerusalem & West Bank
As UNRWA has mobilized operations to deliver medicine and medical equipment, they report no cases of COVID-19 at their health centers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. With support from the EU and others, they are adapting to meet the needs of Palestinian refugees in their five service areas.
May 21 Occupied territories
The Palestinian Authority rejected UAE's 'uncoordinated' coronavirus aid, sent via Israel, because the PA opposes normalization. The aid included personal protective equipment, PPE, and medical equipment. Most notably, it included 10 ventilators that are acutely needed
May 21 Israel and Occupied territories
Dozens of Palestinian children remain in Israeli detention amid the Covid-19 pandemic. “The prison guards disinfected the facilities twice only. They disinfected the showers, the stairs and the corridor. They did not disinfect our cells, not even once. They gave us a bottle of disinfectant that lasted about 15 days, and they never gave us more after it ran out.” Palestinian children detained in Israeli prisons are enduring the precise conditions health experts have warned against in the fight against coronavirus.
May 21 Israel
Israeli Arabs make up 21% of Israel’s population, but only 6% of coronavirus cases and 2% of deaths. In spite of the special challenges of Ramadan, the virus seems well controlled in the Arab population. The community was motivated by more than just a fear of the virus: the awareness that it is a minority, and the fear of sparking hatred.
Demands increase for the immediate release of all Palestinian children from Israeli jails, with their inhumane conditions and lack of precautions against the coronavirus. Not only are the children left uninformed about their risks and denied access to preventive measures, their incarceration has become even more repressive during the pandemic.
May 22 Israel & Occupied territories
16,712 people in Israel have so far tested positive for the coronavirus; 279 people have died. In the West Bank and East Jerusalem, 554 people tested positive; two people have died. In the Gaza Strip, 55 people were diagnosed, 16 of whom recovered, and one person has died.
May 22 Gaza
Covid-19 infections in the Palestinian enclave of Gaza have more than doubled over the last few days, rising from 20 to 55.
May 23 Gaza
Fears of a new outbreak follow the first COVID-19 death in Gaza, reported to be a 77-year-old woman who had returned from Egypt. 35 new cases have been identified in Gaza, all of which were tied to a group of 1,500 Palestinians who returned to the enclave from Egypt this week.
A wave of coronavirus infections among residents returning to Gaza has more than doubled the number of cases in the strip in recent days, raising fears of a bigger outbreak. In recent days, around 1,500 Palestinians who had been stuck in Egypt were allowed to return via the Rafah crossing, while smaller numbers were permitted to enter from Israel. They were all quarantined, but mingled with other residents at the center. The border with Egypt was resealed.
May 23 Occupied territories
Thousands of Palestinians have been stranded abroad seeking repatriation during the pandemic. Feeling lost and unmoored, many are in desperate straits for their basic needs.
May 10-16, 2020
Health Inequities and COVID-19
Introduction: With this week's Covid-19 Timeline, we are including a new tab with some highlight articles about COVID-19's hugely inequitable impact on communities of color, particularly in the United States and also in immigrant/refugee/migrant communities globally. Though this will not be an exhaustive compilation of articles, we want to stress the intersectionality of all struggles. Covid-19 again shows us that those who are colonized and oppressed suffer the highest burdens of disease. Our goal is to use our health lens to bring awareness to this and to also find where new ways are possible so that health, healthcare and well-being are fairly distributed.
For Native Americans, Covid-19 is 'The worst of Both Worlds At the Same TIme'
Native American communities are being hard hit by coronavirus. Morbidity and mortality is high, largely due to high incidence of co-existing conditions. This article highlights the negative economic impact that many tribes face due to having to close casinos, resorts and other sources of revenue. Economic hardship compounds the burden this pandemic is having on Native American communities.
from Center for American Indian Health at Johns Hopkins
Heartbreaking account from an NBC news story (read the piece or watch the video) about coronavirus on the Navajo Nation. As of late April, the Navajo Nation had the third largest outbreak of COVID-19 infections of any place in the nation.
Several general articles about Covid-19 and health inequalities:
Covid-19 exacerbating inequalities in the US
Though one month old now, this article presents a good overview of some of the systemic issues at the root of all health inequalities among communities of color, and that are exacerbated by Covid-19. Issues that communities of color vs white communities face such as less ability to social distance, higher rates of being incarcerated, immigration status, lack of access to health care, greater proportion of being in the essential work force, higher rates of pre-existing conditions all present risk factors for covid-19 infection.
An amazing website: Racial Equity Tools: Covid-19: Racial Equity and Social Justice Resources
This site offers a huge number of resources, including links to some great opinion pieces about the Federal (lack of) Covid response, and the xenophobia and racism that has intensified since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Here is just one example reporting on the anti-Asian racism that has intensified and caused danger in a number of Asian-American communities and individuals.
AMA treasure trove of articles on health inequities and COVID-19:
Back to Palestine and Israel…
Webinar: Princeton’s Fung Global Fellows Program and the London School of Economics Department of Sociology convened a webinar entitled, “The Fate of Internationalism: Talking Solidarity in Pandemic” featuring Ayca Cubuku, Tony Allessandrini, and Noura Erakat, together with Christina Heatherton. In this discussion, they discuss the challenges posed by the corona pandemic and the opportunities for paving internationalist futures through global solidarity. : https://www.jadaliyya.com/Details/41093
Update from Aida Camp Bethlehem: https://youtu.be/btCzaAzBzng
Don't miss the Al Shabaka's upcoming livestream event "Palestinian Leadership in the Time of Pandemic" on May 17. Analysts Mohammed Al-Khaldi and Fadi Quran will discuss the current emergency measures in the West Bank, and their ramifications on the Palestinian people's trust in their leadership. Register here.
May 7 Israel and the Occupied territories
16,310 people in Israel have so far tested positive for the coronavirus; 239 people have died. In the West Bank and East Jerusalem, 515 people tested positive; two people have died. In the Gaza Strip, 17 people were diagnosed, 12 of which recovered. The Israeli government began to ease lockdowns, the Shin Bet tracking was extended by three weeks, Arab leaders protested inequality in economic response, and the Palestinian Authority extended emergency regulations
May 8 Gaza
Photo essay: Officials have eased some restrictions on social distancing allowing Palestinians a reprieve from isolation to buy sweets and gifts to celebrate Ramadan. Only 4,600 Coronavirus tests have been administered since the pandemic began.
May 10 Israel
Haaretz investigation finds coronavirus restrictions trigger a surge in domestic violence, putting many women at a high risk of suicide. ERAN, a nonprofit group, noted 729 domestic violence-related calls and emails were received from March to May, compared to 537 from January to March, an increase of 35.8 percent. A report indicates that only 28 % of the local governments have implemented the national program for the prevention of suicides.
May 10 Lebanon
In collaboration with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has opened a medical isolation center in the UNRWA Siblin Training Centre near Saida, Lebanon. The 100- bed facility will provide a safe quarantine environment for Palestinian refugees whose living conditions do not permit isolation. MSF is also conducting public awareness campaigns and supporting communities in Lebanon, including Palestinian refugee camps, during the pandemic.
May 11 Israel
Researchers at the Weizmann Institute found out what differentiates the actions of the immune system in serious COVID-19 cases as opposed to those only mildly affected. In the lungs of seriously ill patients, they found that macrophages – cells that normally assist in ridding the lungs of infection, viruses and microbes – are replaced by cells that exacerbate the illness. The researchers also found that in seriously ill patients, the coronavirus neutralizes the immune system’s T-cells, which also fight infections, thereby allowing other viruses that are present in the body to inflict their damage.
Israel's treasury tights move to give even temporary aid to neediest coronavirus Llayoffs.Finance Ministry claims no budgetary source to cover the cost, estimated at $95 million, and argues jobless people would have reduced motivation to seek work.
UN calls for release of Palestinian children detained by Israel. Additionally to the risk of infection, Palestinian children are suffering from a ban on visitations and are denied in-person access to their lawyers because of Israel's social distancing guidelines, the officials said, all while legal proceedings are on hold. The best way to uphold the rights of detained children amidst a dangerous pandemic, in any country, is to release them from detention and to put a moratorium on new admissions into detention facilities. We call on the Israeli and Palestinian authorities to do so immediately.
Adalah, The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, on behalf of the Arab Mayors Committee, petitioned the Israeli Supreme Court to provide equitable budgets for Arab municipalities to address the economic harms of the pandemic. Arab municipalities have been striking since May 5 in protest against discrimination in Israeli pandemic-related legislation.
May 12 Gaza
As the coronavirus began to spread–and land confiscations and Land Day were on my mind–the author was reminded of a story about his late paternal grandfather, Ahmed Abu Al-Tarabeesh who died of tuberculosis in a refugee camp in Gaza. The impossibility of social distancing, the poverty and depression continue to today.
May 12 Israel
Health Ministry Director General Moshe Bar Siman Tov has submitted his resignation. A 2018 investigative report by Haaretz yielded several claims of problems in the ministry: interpersonal tensions and harassment, an uncomfortable atmosphere and managerial issues that they blamed on him.
To tackle possible second COVID-19 wave, Israel seeks to create special task force. No agreement has been reached between the Health and Treasury ministries on who will fund the emergency framework.
May 12 Jordan
30,000 Palestinian refugees in Jordan’s Jerash camp are especially vulnerable, given the existing public health challenges and severe poverty. These refugees who were displaced (either for the first or second time in 1967) from Gaza and their descendants are more than three times as likely to be among the most impoverished, living on less than $1.25 a day. Unemployment rates in the camp are close to 40 % compared to 14 % for Palestinian refugees in Jordan. Directing people who are already struggling financially to shelter at home means “telling them not to work on that day, not to earn [a living], and to live that day without eating.”
May 13 West Bank
Steve Sosebee, founder of Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund, and his family celebrate Ramadan under lockdown in the West Bank.
May 13 Occupied territories
Preprint: Healthcare workers preparedness for COVID-19 pandemic in the occupied Palestinian territory: a cross-sectional survey. HCWs in the oPt are underprepared and severely lacking adequate PPE provision. The lack of local protocols, and training has left HCWs confidence exceedingly low. The lack of PPE provision will exacerbate spread of COVID-19 and deepen the crisis, whilst putting HCWs at risk.
May 13 International
An important policy analysis and briefing by the UN on the deleterious impact of Covid 19 on mental health.
Anwah Nagia, a Palestinian-South African businessman and former anti-apartheid activist has pledged to make one million cloth face masks within a month. Invoking the history of Palestinian solidarity with the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, he plans to donate another 10,000 masks to Palestinians
May 14 West Bank
The pandemic lockdown in the occupied West Bank is having a devastating economic impact. Farmers and shepherds have lost their markets and find their traditional way of life under threat.
The Canadian group Independent Jewish Voices interviewed a nurse in Nablus, Mohammad Samara, about the life-changing impact of the pandemic.
May 14 Israel
Israeli scientist invents one-minute coronavirus breath test, a breakthrough device invented at Ben-Gurion University. The device, which can test one’s breath or nasal or throat swabs for the coronavirus, is still undergoing validation, a process of another two to three months. The device achieved 90 % accuracy based on a sample of 120 Israelis. The clinical trials of the diagnostic device are being done in conjunction with the Defense Ministry.
May 14 International
As the pandemic highlights structural causes of oppression worldwide, Palestinian solidarity organizations gain impetus for their work.
May 15 West Bank
Israeli policies interfere with Palestinian efforts at containing COVID-19. When Israel denies services but prevents PA police to enter villages without authorization, the best efforts of local communities are unable to block the spread of the coronavirus. The PA’s police have no official presence in Area C – a zone designated under the Oslo accords. Incorporating Israel’s largest settlements, it comprises more than 60 percent of the West Bank. The same applies to Area B, a smaller zone where the PA is nominally in charge of “civil” matters but the Israeli occupation takes full responsibility for “security.” Palestinians living in Areas B and C are being left to fend for themselves.
May 15 Israel and the Occupied territories
Palestinian workers in Israel are caught between being considered indispensable and disposable as construction and agricultural sites stay open during the pandemic. With tourism and travel effectively halted, the source of contagion for the Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza is now Palestinian laborers who are propping up Israel’s construction economy and agribusiness by transiting back and forth to Israel and Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Israel is exploiting the coronavirus crisis—and Palestinian laborers—to sustain its settler-colonial project that inherently benefits Jewish Israeli communities at the expense of Palestinian ones, while also restricting Palestinian access to land both in Israel and in the West Bank. This is also a story of class disparity within Palestinian society where in some places there are no workers commuting to Israel at all, while in others the percentage of employment in Israel is over 80 %
May 16 Occupied territories
World Health Organization graphic breakdown of Covid 19 cases in oPt
May 16 Israel & Occupied territories
Israel, Palestinian Authority set to further ease lockdown orders. Israel allows gatherings of up to 50 allowed in open spaces. There have been no new West Bank or Gaza coronavirus cases in over a week, there are 3,500 active cases in Israel. 16,606 people in Israel have so far tested positive for the coronavirus; 267 people have died. In the West Bank and East Jerusalem, 554 people tested positive; two people have died. In the Gaza Strip, 20 people were diagnosed, 14 of which recovered. The Palestinian Health Minister declared no new coronavirus cases in the Palestinian territories in nine days, with the exception of East Jerusalem, in which six cases have been diagnosed in recent days. Detainees in Israel will be able to attend court hearings again.
Schools in Israel will open in “green zones,” areas with low rates of infection.
May 3-May 9, 2020
Webinar: Dr Yasser Jamei, Director of the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme at the second opening of ‘Café Palestine’ place. To hear what Yasser had to say about the impact of the pandemic on Gaza, go to:
Podcast: To learn more about health care conditions in the occupied Palestinian territories, The Takeaway spoke with Dr. Mutaz Siyam, a doctor based in East Jerusalem, and Amjad Iraqi, an editor at 972 Magazine and policy analyst for Al-Shabaka, a non-partisan think tank focused on Palestinian human rights.
May 3 Israel and the West Bank
Israel temporarily opens crossings for Palestinians seeking work.
Despite COVID-19 fears, some 40,000 workers in occupied West Bank are expected to enter Israel for a three-week period. The PA has registered some 353 infections, many of which were believed to be contracted by workers who cross over to Israel. Up to 20% of employed Palestinians work in Israel and in illegal settlement complexes built on occupied Palestinian land. The money earned is more than what they would make in the West Bank, where the unemployment rate hovers at about 30 %.
May 4 West Bank
Palestinians in small villages of Area C don’t receive the services they need to combat the coronavirus from either Israel or the Palestinian Authority. There are places in the West Bank where even washing your hands with clean water, the most basic rule to try stop the spread of the coronavirus, is virtually impossible.
May 4 East Jerusalem and Israel
East Jerusalem activists and Mayor Moshe Leon report close and efficient cooperation in the fight against the coronavirus, with representatives of both sides meeting several times a week on a regular basis. The municipality has distributed thousands of food baskets to impoverished East Jerusalem residents with the assistance of local volunteers and is cooperating with the Home Front Command to resolve issues involving coronavirus testing, quarantine and treatment of patients in the area. According to Health Ministry assessments, there are only some 150 coronavirus cases in the Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem.
May 4 Israel
Government directives to shelter at home may be flattening one curve, but they have led to a spike in another, as incidents of domestic and gender-based violence have multiplied — a global trend UN Women has described as “the shadow pandemic.” Women’s confinement with their abusers, compounded by the uncertainty of when the coronavirus crisis will end and growing economic stress, is “a bubbling pressure cooker.” Women’s rights advocates decry the Israeli government response as inadequate during the entrapment of women during the lockdown.
May 4 United States
Democratic Party functionaries in Las Vegas/Clark County, Nevada used the logistical challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to sabotage the inclusion of three pro-Palestinian planks proposed by Bernie Sanders delegates.
May 5 Gaza and West Bank
The official unemployment rate in Gaza was 43 percent during the last few months of 2019. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, that meant more than 208,000 people were without work. A further 130,000 have now been made jobless since the pandemic broke out, according to Gaza’s economy ministry. The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics has estimated that the new coronavirus could result in the gross domestic product for the West Bank and Gaza being 14 % less in 2020 than last year. That would mean a total loss of approximately $2.5 billion.
PA extends coronavirus state of emergency in occupied West Bank
by one month. In place since March, the emergency measure has introduced a full lockdown that confined Palestinians to their homes, except for essential travel. Restrictions have since been eased, with some businesses allowed to open in a bid to revive the weakened economy. The number of confirmed infections in the West Bank and the occupied Gaza Strip stands at 362, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
May 5 West Bank
Studies have indicated that COVID-19 in Palestine will peak near the end of May. Given the reality on the ground, I wouldn’t be surprised if that turns out to be true, with our numbers soaring into the thousands. The current moment seems like the point of no return for Palestinians in the West Bank. Either the government decides to tighten up restrictions again, and force people into quarantine for another month, or we continue down the path we’re on and wait to see what comes our way. Either way, whether financially or with their health, people are going to hurt.
May 5 UNRWA
In the midst of the pandemic, UNRWA will be unable to pay its 30,000 health workers serving Palestinian refugees after the end of May. Previously the largest donor, the US cut its contribution by $350 million/year in 2018.
May 5 Israel and Occupied territories
As of May 5th, there are 532 cases of COVID-19 in West Bank, Gaza, including a serious outbreak of 170 cases in East Jerusalem. Israel has 16,268 cases. With 17 cases in Gaza, and West Bank workers returning home from Israel, the virus could easily spread because two or three generations live in the same home.
Magen David Adom established a dedicated C19 hotline in Arabic for East Jerusalem residents: *5400.
The latest WHO sitrep (from Sun 3 May) can be found here: http://www.emro.who.int/pse/palestine-news/landing-page-for-covid19.html.
The latest Health Cluster bulletin (covering April) can be found here: http://www.emro.who.int/images/stories/palestine/documents/HC-Bulletin-April_FINAL.pdf?ua=1
A review of the coronavirus in Israel/Palestine reveals the underlying context of structural racism and apartheid, a reliance on military solutions, and a disregard for the health and lives of Palestinian people who matter less than their Jewish cohorts in the eyes of the Israeli government. When small tokens of support in terms of testing, training, and equipment occur, these are described as humanitarian gifts and examples of Israeli largesse, when Israel as the occupying power is actually responsible for the health and well-being of the people it occupies. The rise in “digital and algorithmic surveillance systems” in the name of public health is a dangerous example of occupation creep that is now leaking into Israeli society as well.
May 5 Israel
Israel approves extension of Shin Bet surveillance powers. A parliamentary subcommittee approved an extra three weeks of tracing Israelis suffering from the virus, despite huge privacy concerns. Using digital data such as mobile phone location and credit card purchases, the tracking seeks to identify and alert people who have been in close contact with someone suffering from coronavirus. They are then ordered into quarantine. Critics claim that the government will continue this gross violation of the privacy of law-abiding citizens for at least another six weeks, while at the same time seeking to enshrine it in ordinary legislation.
Middle East Eye
Israeli Arab councils strike in protest of inadequate coronavirus aid package. Demonstrators also blocked a major highway, protesting continued discrimination since the approval of the controversial Nation-State Law. Councils said 2.82 billion shekels ($800 million) had been budgeted for all local councils as compensation for the tax shortfall, and that based on their calculations, Arab councils will receive 47 million shekels, which is only 1.7% of all the compensation.
What made it clear that concern for our wellbeing during the pandemic was not sincere was the small number of tests conducted in Arab communities, a lack of information in Arabic and the non-allocation of resources to Arab local governments to fight the virus – even though they are in financial distress that has worsened with the crisis. When first ad campaign was finally launched, the illustrations looked as if they were directed at the citizens of Saudi Arabia: The style of dress is traditional Saudi, the women and girls are covered from head to toe, and a woman is pictured at the table serving the family while they break their fast. The use of humiliating stereotypical representations sparked an emotional uproar among the Arab community, and the ads were removed immediately.
May 5 International
Between May 1-4, nearly 2,000 civil society organizations, trade unions, and concerned citizens of the world signed a joint open letter to the International Labour Organization (ILO) demanding rights and protections for Palestinian workers during and after the pandemic.
May 6 Israel
All of a sudden Palestinians can sleep in Israel, Arab health workers are garnering praise and Israelis are experiencing an 'occupation.' Maybe this crisis will show that we are all human beings? There are no grounds for high expectations. The agents of war and hatred, nationalism and racism, remain just as powerful as ever. But still, two peoples, one epidemic, one state.
May 6 Middle East
Oppressive living conditions and limited opportunities intensify for Palestinian refugees throughout the Middle East.
May 7 Israel
The Israeli Defense Ministry has been spearheading a sprawling, high-speed effort to unleash some of the country’s most advanced technologies against Covid-19.
The national undertaking is for the first time linking up major hospitals and research institutes with Israel’s vaunted high-tech sector and its military-industrial behemoths: Elbit Systems, Israel Aerospace Industries and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. They are focusing on testing, tracking, and telemedicine.
May 8 UNRWA
As a result of the pandemic, UNRWA announces an emergency appeal to raise $93 million to support health care, sanitation, hygiene, and education for Palestinian refugees during the next three months.
Middle East Eye
May 8 Gaza
2013 Right Livelihood Award Laureate Raji Sourani has been tirelessly working to defend and promote human rights. As the most prominent human rights lawyer based in the Gaza Strip, Sourani established the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights to document and investigate human rights violations committed in the Occupied Territories, and has defended countless victims before Israeli courts. For his activism, he has been imprisoned six times by both Israel and the Palestinian Authority.At the time of writing this article, 19 people in Gaza were tested positive with COVID-19. Giving the enormous challenges that this pandemic poses to the Palestinian population, we asked Sourani to give us more details about the situation in the Gaza Strip, where he currently resides.
The Right Livelihood Foundation
May 9 Gaza
A Palestinian journalist under coronavirus lockdown in Germany reflects on the similarities with life in Gaza during his childhood and worries about his family in a refugee camp.
May 9 Israel and Occupied territories
Coronavirus Israel Live: 18 New cases confirmed, in smallest daily rise in almost two months. 16,454 people in Israel have so far tested positive for the coronavirus; 247 people have died. In the West Bank and East Jerusalem, 527 people tested positive; two people have died. In the Gaza Strip, 20 people were diagnosed, 12 of which recovered. The Israeli government eased lockdown restrictions.
April 26-May 2, 2020
Video: The Israeli occupation is alive and well under Covid 19 lockdown. Palestine correspondent Yumna Patel spoke with Suha Jarrar of Al-Haq and Soheir Asaad of Adalah.
April 26 Gaza and Israel
Israeli teams have trained doctors, nurses and other medical workers in Gaza on treating COVID-19 patients. A team from Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, Israel, held a training course several hours long for about 20 medical workers from Gaza at the Erez crossing. Another group of doctors and nurses was later allowed to leave the Gaza Strip for training at the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon in southern Israel. Coordination for the training in Israel came through Israel’s Physicians for Human Rights, which communicates directly with the Gaza government to provide certain assistance and support. The sources claimed Hamas hid the relationship to avoid accusations of normalization with Israel.
April 26 Israel and Occupied territories
Israel is taking advantage of the world's distraction during the pandemic to push for annexation, deeper surveillance, and more control over Palestinians. Netanyahu closed the Israeli courts on the grounds of public health concerns, thus postponing his corruption case to late May. He has long held promises to his base to formally annex the Jordan Valley and various settlement blocs in parts of the occupied West Bank. Only a third of Israelis support plans for unilateral annexation, any public opposition to the policy is likely to be curtailed by fears over the coronavirus and the resultant lockdown restrictions. Another move was a recent requirement by Israeli authorities that Palestinians with pending permit requests — for work, travel, medical access, or other reasons — download an application to their smartphones. Dubbed “Al-Munasiq,” or “the Coordinator” in Arabic, the application’s permissions include consent authorizations that grant the Israeli security services access to a user’s contacts, microphone, camera, and location data. The combination of neglect and authoritarian control — in addition to violating their basic rights — threatens to weaken Palestinians’ resilience against COVID-19.
Israel reopened some businesses and considers resuming school year. With a population of about 9 million, Israel has had 15,443 coronavirus cases and 201 deaths. With about 100 Covid-19 sufferers on ventilators and 2,000 more hospital beds on standby, officials see an opportunity to review the country's pandemic policy. With unemployment rising above 27 %, the government has approved an 80 billion shekel ($23bn) aid package. Palestinian officials have reported 342 coronavirus cases and two deaths in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Gaza has reopened restaurants.
April 26 Israel
Ikea Israel’s owners gave millions to Israel’s Health Minister's sect. Now it won approval to reopen. Health Minister Yaakov Litzman is a leading figure in Ger, which has received $1.1 million in donations in recent years from Ikea Israel's owners.
The Israeli government has agreed to freeze home demolitions, but has provided minimal aid to a population with limited access to health care and information. There are roughly 90,000 residents of Bedouin villages in the Negev (Naqab). 40 % of the Negev Bedouin live in villages, 35 of which are not recognized by the state, and another 11 of which had their status normalized two decades ago. The majority of the Bedouin, some 150,000, live in seven urban townships established by the state. Left largely to fend for themselves, the residents of the unrecognized villages, with the help of a number of private bodies and friends, have organized to look after their own needs. Only 28 tested positive as of mid-April, with no deaths. Bulldozers continued to plow under Bedouin homes until mid-March. Another major challenge is 75 % of Bedouin women over the age of 35 are unable to read or write.
Israel's Supreme Court ruled that the government must bring its use of mobile phone tracking deployed in the battle against the new coronavirus under legislation. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), one of the groups which petitioned the court, hailed the ruling as a victory.
Israel is letting people out of their homes without a Coronavirus exit strategy. Some of the regulations are vaguely worded, others contradict each other or lack any logic, and the truth is the cabinet is mainly attempting to catch up to the situation on the ground. In light of the huge economic cost and the weariness many citizens feel, restrictions are being lifted. The problem is that it isn’t being done systematically enough, and that the confusing instructions meet an exhausted public that isn’t renowned for following instructions and safety regulations in ordinary times.
April 27 East Jerusalem
East Jerusalemites accuse Israel of not being forthcoming about the spread of the coronavirus in East Jerusalem and criticize it for shutting down local efforts against the virus that are backed by the Palestinian Authority. The Israelis only agreed to open testing centers on April 14 in East Jerusalem, in the Shuafat and Kafr Aqab refugee camps, setting up two stations in each, in response to a petition submitted to the Israeli Supreme Court. There are now six testing sites in East Jerusalem. The Israeli Ministry of Health tracks cases in East Jerusalem, but does not distinguish among Arab and Jewish neighborhoods. Silwan, with a population of 70,000, has emerged as a virus hotspot.
April 27 West Bank and Gaza
Trapped with a depleted health sector, Palestinians are forced to depend on an occupier that is simultaneously thwarting their ability to care for themselves. Palestine offers a blatant display of how man-made inequalities, in intricate and structural ways, purposely diminish people’s chances at survival.
April 27 West Bank
The team of doctors and engineers from Al-Quds University plans to produce 100 ventilators based on their computerized models. The West Bank only has a total of 215 ventilators, one for every 13,953 people, according to the Health Ministry. Gaza has a total of 93 ventilators for 21,505 people.
Video of Palestinians making ventilators at Al Quds University.
The outbreak of COVID-19, the subsequent lockdown, its serious effect on the financial situation of many families, and the continuous attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank are combining to worsen the already fragile situation of people facing mental distress, domestic violence, and various types of abuse.
April 27 Israel
Israel loosens Coronavirus lockdown as doubts about Netanyahu's policy widen. The steady improvement in the coronavirus casualty numbers is stoking the debate on the economic cost of the aggressive lockdown and how it served the prime minister. Three aspects are key: the sweeping ban on leaving home imposed on Israelis 67 or older, concerns about the economy, and in many cases deep suspicions about the purity of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s motives.
Israel closed schools and kindergartens in mid-March, worsening an economic lockdown as parents were forced to stay home to mind children. With unemployment peaking at 27% and contagion rates waning, Israel is now easing curbs. Netanyahu’s office said children in the first three years of primary school would resume studies in reduced class sizes of no more than 15 pupils. The school closures have cost the economy between $48 million and $128 million a day.
April 27 Lebanon
Lebanon recently confirmed the first COVID-19 case among Palestinian refugees in the country. The case was in Wavel, a refugee camp located in the Baqaa Valley near Baalbek. COVID-19 in Lebanon surpassed 700 on 27 April, and a nationwide lockdown was instituted in March. There are more than 475,000 registered Palestinian refugees in Lebanon – who are not considered citizens – and two thirds are very poor. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, UNRWA initiated an emergency plan whereby the agency closed its facilities, implemented awareness campaigns within the Palestinian refugee camps and gatherings in Lebanon, and announced it would cover 90 percent of health expenditures related to COVID-19 testing and treatment. However, the plan did not initially include a provision to ameliorate the economic conditions of refugees suffering due to the closure. The response from the UN and other groups has fallen far short of the extreme need.
April 28 Gaza
Rapid response letter in the British Medical Journal addressing Israeli blockade of Gaza, impact on health services, and Covid 19
April 28 West Bank and Gaza
The Palestinian Authority is preparing for a gradual return to normal in the West Bank after no new patients were diagnosed with COVID-19 over the past two days in the Gaza Strip, although Hamas says it is too soon. There were 495 Palestinian coronavirus patients in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and in East Jerusalem. There are also 1,998 Gazans in medical isolation, the great majority of whom recently returned to Gaza.
April 28 Israel
Adalah provides its timeline of legal efforts to protect Palestinians during the pandemic, including limitations on the use of Israeli surveillance.
In a victory for Adalah, The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, the Israeli Supreme Court ordered Shin Bet (Israel’s internal intelligence agency) to stop the use of counter-terrorism surveillance technology on people who test positive for the virus in Israel.
April 29 Gaza
Article reviews the spread of measles in Gaza and the successful vaccination program as a warning and lesson re: the covid 19 pandemic and the weaknesses of the Gaza health care system. Dire warnings and public health lessons can be drawn from the recent measles outbreak in Gaza, causing 965 suspected cases, 549 confirmed cases, and two deaths between June 2019 and February 10, 2010.
April 30 Israel and Occupied territories
Turkey is sending a 14-ton shipment of maska, hazmat suits, testing kits, and other supplies to fight the pandemic to be divided equally between the West Bank and Gaza. Turkish officials said they received permission from Israel to send the shipment through Ben Gurion airport and then to Ramallah and Gaza. The next day similar cargo will be shipped to two Israeli hospitals that purchased the equipment.
Middle East Eye
April 30 Israel
The spread of COVID-19 has left asylum seekers in Israel out of work, crammed into uninhabitable apartments with exorbitant rents, and desperate for government assistance.
The asylum seeker community has been praising the High Court’s decision last Thursday to strike down the deposit law which since 2017 has docked 20 % of asylum seekers’ salaries.
May 1 Gaza
Palestinian Canadian physician, Loubani, began using 3D printers to produce medical supplies seven years ago in the Gaza Strip. Under the Glia project, Loubani worked with medical teams in Gaza to produce thousands of stethoscopes and tourniquets, a life-saving medical device use stops the flow of blood to extremities during catastrophic injuries. Today, every EMT team in the Gaza Strip is equipped with tourniquets printed by Glia’s Gaza operation. When the pandemic began, Glia in Gaza shifted gears and started printing face shields for local use.
With demand for masks and protective gear soaring worldwide, Israeli merchants have flooded Gaza garment factories with new orders since early March. In the garment industry in Gaza, where joblessness, poverty and dependency on international aid were already at epidemic proportions, the coronavirus has oddly been a boon. Workers can make $8.50-$12 per day. All told, factories in Gaza have produced millions of masks and hundreds of thousands of protective gowns and suits
Video of a Palestinian nurse treating virus patients in Gaza who breaks fast remotely with her family using WhatsApp for fear of infecting her dear ones.
May 1 Occupied territories and Israel
507 Palestinians have tested positive for COVID-19; 17 in the Gaza Strip; 327 in the West Bank; and 163 in Jerusalem. 15,946 Israelis have tested positive. Despite alarming projections, restrictions are being lifted. The model currently predict sbetween 11,014 and 113,171 cases of COVID-19 in Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, with a peak of the pandemic expected between May 22 and May 27, 2020.
May 2 East Jerusalem
The six hospitals that are based in East Jerusalem have estimated that they need $7 million to deal with the coronavirus. “They only count East Jerusalemites who have Israeli IDs and who were tested in Jerusalem. We have a number of Palestinians who have been infected but either don’t have the Israeli IDs or are spouses to Jerusalemites with Israeli IDs.”
May 2 Occupied territories
This page provides an overview of resources and information which highlight how WHO is supporting local health authorities to respond to COVID-19 in the occupied Palestinian territory and includes a dashboard which is updated twice a week and reports cases by districts in the West Bank and Gaza.
Updated numbers and graphs, 500 cases in the West Bank including 164 in East Jerusalem. 17 in Gaza.
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Palestine in pictures during the Pandemic
May 2 Israel
16,152 people in Israel have tested positive for the coronavirus; 227 people have died. In the West Bank, 480 cases have been diagnosed. Two have died. In Gaza, 17 cases have been diagnosed. The Israeli government approved a series of steps to ease the lockdown restrictions, including allowing group prayer, partial reopening of the economy and stores, and fines for not wearing masks in public. The heads of the Arab local councils are calling a general strike and a strike of municipal functions in protest of Israel's failure to appropriate proper funds to cover losses due to the coronavirus. Coronavirus infection rate surges by over 40 % within three days in Bedouin town.
April 19-25, 2020
Video from Institute for Middle East Understanding: Unequal Coronavirus care under Israeli apartheid Instagram
Video on health care in Gaza and Covid 19 youtube
Video update from Aida Camp, Bethlehem youtube
This is Palestine, IMEU Podcast with Diana Buttu and Dr. Mustafa Barghouti: Palestinians and COVID-19
April 19 Gaza
Corona virus has completely shut down the economy in Gaza, compounding damage from the ongoing blockade. While social events are cancelled while weddings are smaller and more traditional. 12 cases of Coronavirus have been reported. The agriculture ministry is providing support for farmers, but it is not enough.
Due to measures taken to tackle COVID-19, including closing wedding halls, cafes, restaurants and markets, the Gaza Strip economy is at a virtual standstill, worsening unemployment and poverty. About 5,000 workers in 25 tourist establishments in the Gaza Strip — who support about 25,000 people — are now unemployed without any other source of income. The transportation sector has become almost nonexistent. Schools, universities, and many private and governmental institutions are closed. The total number of infections in Gaza stood at 13 as of April 15.
April 19 West Bank
For Palestinians, solidarity amid pandemic invokes spirit of the intifada. From voluntary nurses to donating bread, Palestinian society has stepped in to tackle lack of medical and economic resources. Palestinians have exhibited increasing social solidarity as they volunteer for roles and create community groups to support Palestinian security forces and medical teams in fighting the virus, committees for food delivery, community checkpoints, sanitation groups, volunteer mobile health clinics, and teams assessing workers returning from Israel.
Middle East Eye
April 19 Israel
Endless occupation and neoliberal policies have made it impossible for Israel to maintain a functioning public health system that is able to respond to the outbreak of COVID-19. The connection between the dangerous underfunding of Israel’s public health system and the occupation is straightforward. The occupation vacuumed up national budgetary resources that could, otherwise, have been used to prop up a public health system already buckling under the weight of decades of privatization. Fiscal austerity has led not only to the poor state of Israeli hospitals and shortages of medical personnel and medical supplies; it has also damaged social services for at-risk populations and further disadvantaged beneficiaries of Israel’s safety net.
In Bnei Brak's Mayanei Hayeshua Medical Center, a doctor and Palestinian citizen of Israel delivered a Torah to ultra-Orthodox coronavirus patients, while babies continue to be delivered safely in the maternity ward. Staff note that this epidemic isn’t being managed. It’s clear that there should have been a central agency directing patients among the hospitals. There are patients who come here in a certain condition and their condition deteriorates. But there are also those who come when they were already in serious condition. There should be a procedure in which a Magen David Adom [emergency medical service] paramedic who comes to the patient asks [a referral center] managing the event where to take the patient.
Contrary to the “flattering” reports about the Mossad’s cloak-and-dagger operations to acquire medical equipment, most of it was purchased officially in Europe and China, where the organization has no particular advantage. Benjamin Netanyahu’s decided to give the responsibility for managing medical equipment purchases to Mossad chief Yossi Cohen for primarily political and managerial reasons.
April 20 West Bank
A sense of panic spread across the city of Bethlehem, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the West Bank, after news broke that there were two confirmed cases of the virus in the Dheisheh refugee camp, home to 15,000 refugees. In nearby Aida Camp, local youth centers, the local council, and the UNRWA representative in the camp formed an emergency committee to deal with COVID-19, putting the most effort into containment. Community Health Workers program at the Lajee Center altered their medical practices and began distributing educational material and sanitation packs. In the West Bank alone, there are an estimated 775,000 Palestinian refugees, a quarter of whom live in 19 crowded refugee camps across the occupied territory.
April 20 Israel and Occupied territories
Five Palestinian women have died in instances of domestic violence since the COVID-19 lockdown, four of them succumbing to gunshot wounds. In protest and solidarity on April 20, Palestinians in the occupied territories and historic Palestine waved banners and banged on pots and pans on in a campaign organized by the independent political feminist movement Tal’at.
Israel has used the coronavirus crisis in order to further consolidate its regime of surveillance and domination against Palestinians. Having spent the past seven decades dividing Palestinian communities into segregated enclaves, and devising legal structures of racialized domination, it already has the architecture in place for a mass ‘lockdown’. Under the guise of emergency, Israel has used the global shift in attention to continue creating new facts on the ground including house demolitions, support for aggressive settler actions in the West Bank, confiscation of a Palestinian field clinic, raiding Palestinian homes, destroying efforts to control the virus in East Jerusalem, and spraying toxic herbicides in Gaza. The pandemic sharpens the demands of the Palestinian anti-colonial struggle, making it increasingly relevant to other societies worldwide.
Fact Sheet: Coronavirus under Israeli Apartheid from the Palestinian BDS national committee. Palestinians. Targeted by Israel's #CoronaRacism, Palestinians are highly vulnerable to coronavirus due to decades of Israeli oppression.
April 20 Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu persuaded Benny Gantz to join forces with him. The two leaders cast the deal as an emergency government to fight the coronavirus. The deal between Mr. Gantz and Mr. Netanyahu first envisions an emergency government lasting for six months, when only legislation related to the battle against the coronavirus can be taken up by Parliament — except for bills concerning the Trump plan. The coronavirus is known to have infected more than 13,600 Israelis, and has claimed at least 173 lives so far.
‘It’s really a gift’: Israeli hospitals let relatives say goodbye up close. A hospital spokesman asked why family members were barred from coronavirus wards when journalists could visit in protective gear. His bosses had no good answer. And so on the spot, the hospital’s management committee unanimously voted to change its policy.
April 20 International
Where a health threat constitutes a danger for the whole population, then the suspension of ordinary law that would normally be seen as infringements of basic rights, is legitimate to increase the government's capacity to protect society. The author examines: Can exceptionality jeopardize some democratic principles in the long term? Could the epidemic lead to a reduction of individual rights after the peak of the crisis? Could fear change the value citizens accord to freedom. In health, tracking technologies are effective in improving health research, anticipating health threats, and mitigating individual at-risk behaviors. This effectiveness is why governments will be tempted to bring mass surveillance into ordinary laws.
April 21 Gaza
There are 60 intensive care beds and less than 100 ventilators throughout Gaza, with almost two million inhabitants on 365 square kilometers, one of the most densely populated areas in the world. The 276 UNRWA-operated schools are closed, telephone hotlines for the health centers and mobile clinics for high-risk patients were constructed, as well as a quarantine center near Rafah. Food must now be delivered directly to around one million of the poorest refugees. As of April 20, 15 confirmed cases of coronavirus were registered in Gaza, but testing is limited. Schools have been turned into quarantine areas. Hotels have also been cleared to make room for emergency treatment, and weekly food markets are prohibited and Gazans are struggling to be creative in their response.
COGAT, the bureaucratic arm of Israel’s military occupation, has exploited the pandemic for propaganda opportunities, posting photos of medical equipment donated by international organizations for Palestinians living under Israeli military rule. COGAT apparently wishes to project a false image of the Israeli military as a quasi humanitarian agency, one that benefits the lives of Palestinians instead of directly harming them. While Israel has degraded the capacity of Gaza’s health care system to respond to a public health crisis like COVID-19, it has no publicly declared plan to prevent the spread of the virus to one of the most densely populated and vulnerable territories in the world. There have been 15 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Gaza, though that relatively low figure may reflect a lack of available testing. 300 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the West Bank, including two deaths. Israel has reported nearly 14,000 confirmed cases, including more than 180 deaths.
April 21 West Bank
Celebrating Ramadan in the West Bank under the Covid 19 pandemic.
April 21 Israel and West Bank
Israel doesn’t oversee Palestinian workers’ health amid Coronavirus. Over half of the approximately 400 coronavirus cases in the PA have been traced to workers infected in Israel or in contact with them, yet Israel refuses to test over 20,000 “essential” Palestinian workers in the country or safeguard and monitor their living conditions. The relevant agencies all deny responsibility, and although a Health Ministry directive mandated the provision of health insurance to Palestinian workers, the law has not yet been passed. Thousands of Palestinian workers are currently prevented from returning to Israel (by their “essential” status) and denied testing and health insurance if sick.
April 21 Israel and Occupied territories
COGAT, the Israeli Ministry of Defense’s Coordinator of Government activities in the Territories, is exploiting the pandemic by publicizing medical equipment donated to Palestinians by international organizations. Meanwhile, human rights groups Gisha, Adalah, and Al-Mezan are demanding that Israel issue an action plan to address the spread of the virus in Gaza, remove travel restrictions on medical staff and access to medical equipment, and allow Gaza residents to travel for COVID-19-related medical care.
April 21 Israel
The number of Palestinian child detainees in Israeli prisons and detention centers increased since January despite the novel coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) and widespread calls to decrease the number of people in custodial detention globally. Over 60 percent (117 out of 194) of Palestinian child detainees were held in pre-trial custodial detention. Palestinian children imprisoned by Israeli authorities live in close proximity to each other, often in compromised sanitary conditions, with limited access to resources to maintain minimum hygiene routines
‘NY Times’ human interest articles from Israeli pandemic leave out certain humans. [There is a dearth of similar heartwarming articles from other places in the world FYI] For instance, the NYT’s long tradition of doing positive articles about Israel left out the contributions of Palestinian citizens in health care. The paper last week did include another human interest story, a biased article glorifying Mossad, the Israeli spy agency, for supposedly using guile to obtain medical equipment from outside Israel to fight the virus. But it turns out Mossad may have duped NYT reporter Halbfinger.
An account by Noam Shuster, an Israeli comedian and activist, about her time recovering from COVID-19 in a “coronavirus hotel” in Jerusalem with a diverse group of Palestinians and Israelis. She expected to mine the experience for jokes, but actually experienced something much deeper and more hopeful.
April 22 East Jerusalem
Israel has dragged its feet in helping Palestinian hospitals preparing for the Corona virus during Ramadan, closing down testing sites, and blocking the Palestinian Authority from stepping in. The unofficial count stands at 140 with half of them in the densely populated neighborhood of Silwan. Eight mobile coronavirus testing centers have been set up in East Jerusalem, stationed in the neighborhoods of Silwan, Shuafat, Sheikh Jarrah, and Kufr Aqab. Two drive-through centers run by the municipality have been erected at the entrance of Jabal Mukaber, and the other near the checkpoint at the entrance to Shuafat Refugee Camp. Although Palestinian patients in the city are also sent for treatment in Israeli hospitals, between the three hospitals located in East Jerusalem, there are only 22 ventilators and 62 beds prepared for coronavirus patients. A group of 81 local Palestinian NGOs last month formed the ad-hoc “Jerusalem Alliance” to confront the threats of the disease in the city’s Palestinian communities.
April 22 Israel and Occupied territories
There has been a six percent increase in the number of Palestinian child prisoners since January. More than 70 percent of the child detainees were being held in prisons inside Israel in violation of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention which states that, when facing detention by an Occupying Power, the detainee has the right to remain in the occupied territory during all stages of detention.
April 22 Israel
As a result of an Adalah petition, the Israeli Supreme Court has ordered the government to restore the rights of pregnant women fired from their jobs due to special coronavirus legislation.
April 22 Lebanon
The first known COVID-19 case of a Palestinian refugee was reported to be a woman in her 40s who tested positive in a refugee camp in Lebanon. She is now receiving treatment in Beirut at a state-run hospital. Medical personnel are screening her relatives and other contacts at the al-Jalil camp in the Bekaa valley with support from UNRWA, which fears this case may signal a deadly outbreak in the crowded and unhealthy conditions under which refugees are forced to live.
April 23 Gaza
With schools closed due to the pandemic, teachers at all levels are struggling to provide online instruction despite its unsuitability for students in Gaza. Due to frequent power outages and lack of appropriate devices in many households, many students must share phones during the limited time available. The disruption of routine and face-to-face contact with teachers is especially traumatizing for children under lockdown.
A Gaza wedding under Coronavirus lockdown.
April 23 Israel
Adalah provides its timeline of legal efforts to protect Palestinians during the pandemic, including limitations on the use of Israeli surveillance.
The Israeli public and decision makers have come to the critical early point of exit from the coronavirus crisis without clear objectives, timelines or milestones for implementation. The fog covering Israel’s battle against the virus at this stage is the result of a lack of necessary information and an inability to access what information does exist, as part of what looks like a policy of ambiguity and fear of criticism over the handling of the crisis or of the inability to deal with its challenges. People in the health system feel that everything relating to the COVID-19 crisis is being treated as a “security” issue, as if the information was connected to national defense and must be kept secret. The lack of transparency and access is so extreme that information is often denied to the senior professional echelons of the Health Ministry itself.
April 23 United Kingdom
Right-wing groups are using the pandemic to spread Islamophobic beliefs on social media. This opinion piece debunks five myths about Muslims and COVID-19.
April 24 Israel
Netanyahu continues to exploit the pandemic for political and economic purposes -- strengthening his authoritarian rule, crushing democratic process, and promoting the surveillance industry.
April 25 Gaza
Sewing factories in the Gaza are working in full force to produce protective gear for countries struggling to contain COVID-19, including Israel. Workers earn as little as $8 a day. Factories import fabric and other materials from customers in Israel and then produce items like masks, gloves and surgical gowns. The conditions created by the blockade allow for exploitation, but low-wage jobs provide income for many needy people. Elsewhere in Gaza, a startup has produced hundreds of medical face shields using 3D printers.
A 2 ½-minute video shows artists in Gaza painting and distributing face masks to raise consciousness and encourage people to wear them for protection. (April 25)
April 25 Occupied territories
This main goal of this revised Plan remains supporting the efforts led by the Government of Palestine (GoP) to contain the pandemic and mitigate it impact. This updated version provides an important bridge between the public health response contained in the Health Cluster Plan and the broader socio-economic recovery plan of the GoP, with support from the World Bank and others. The primary focus remains prevention, preparedness and treatment of COVID-19, with emphasis remaining on supporting the most vulnerable people. Overall, the Plan aims to support the scaling up of testing capacity to 20,000 COVID-19 tests and expand hospital-bed capacity by 200 additional beds. Respiratory support and intensive care treatment capacity will also be scaled-up to support 100 additional beds. Additionally, the plan aims to target at least 1 million Palestinians with public health messages on preventive measures on how to effectively protect oneself from COVID-19 infection, and at least 5,000 health workers will be supported with infection prevention and control (IPC) measures, including with personal protective equipment (PPE). Excellent collection of detailed data follows.
April 25 Israel and Occupied Territories
Israeli’s ever-expanding settler colonial project and Benjamin Netanyahu’s authoritarian ambitions appear to be beneficiaries of the COVID-19 pandemic. While delaying his corruption trial, Netanyahi has now managed to form a coalition with Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz that promises to annex large sections of the West Bank (a move condemned by the International Criminal Court). In addition, Israel’s surveillance industry will likely expand its global market as countries search for tools to facilitate contact tracing.
April 12-18, 2020
Webinar Quarantine under Apartheid: The Palestinian Experience
Podcast Electronic Intifada COVID-19 worsens Israel’s racism
Who Profits In this dynamic report, Who Profits will monitor the developments on the ground, providing analysis and sources of the unfolding of the COVID-19 crisis in occupied Palestine. Monitoring developments in Palestine is crucial not because Palestine is an exceptional case, but precisely because it is not. As one political economist put it, Gaza (and Palestine more broadly) may be “the proverbial canary in the COVID-19 coal mine.”
April 12 Gaza
Hamas and Israel are holding indirect negotiations for a prisoner exchange deal, Palestinian sources said. Under the proposed agreement, Israel would send humanitarian aid including ventilators to Gaza. Israeli officials denied a delivery of ventilators was being negotiated. Dozens of nurses, physicians and other medical personnel from the Gaza Strip were recently trained at Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon and at the Erez crossing between Israel and Gaza in techniques to treat coronavirus patients.
April 12 East Jerusalem
With no tests, medical supplies, or isolation zones, the residents of Shuafat Refugee Camp are mobilizing to ensure they stay safe in the case of an outbreak. This kind of infrastructure is critical due to the immense population density of Shuafat, which makes effective social distancing difficult, particularly when considering the possibility that Israel may put the camp under lockdown — by shutting down the checkpoint at the entrance to Shuafat — in the case of an outbreak. [On April 14, Shuafat Refugee Camp registered its first case of COVID-19.] Pinched between governmental neglect and the blocking of aid from the PA, the residents of the neighborhoods have been left orphaned in the face of a dangerous pandemic.
April 12 Israel
The Mossad has played an outsize role in acquiring the medical gear, and knowledge, needed in the pandemic. They have procured more than 100,000 coronavirus testing kits, 1.5 million surgical masks, tens of thousands of N-95 masks, protective overalls for first-aid crews, protective goggles and a range of medications in transactions that may not have been above board. The Mossad also helped obtain technology from outside Israel that have enabled many Israeli laboratories to conduct coronavirus tests. Mossad operatives also secured the necessary know-how to produce ventilators in Israel. The NYT’s glorification of the Mossad’s actions and author Ronen Bergman’s biases were criticized by Mondoweiss.
Israel locked down mainly ultra-Orthodox Jewish areas of Jerusalem to try to contain the spread of the coronavirus from the densely populated neighborhoods where the infection rate is high. The entry and exit restrictions, enforced by police roadblocks, were imposed on the same day that a government order for the wearing of masks in public went into effect throughout the country, Reuters said. Residents of the restricted neighborhoods in Jerusalem can still shop close to home for essentials. Synagogues have been closed to try to stem infections, as they have been across the country. Israel has reported 10,878 confirmed coronavirus cases and 103 deaths.
April 13 Gaza
Israel allowed five testing kits capable of testing 500 people, purchased by the World Health Organization (WHO), into Gaza. There are 13 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus, all in quarantine.
The Gaza Strip resumed testing for the coronavirus after Israel allowed the delivery of five World Health Organization-purchased testing kits. Thirteen cases of the novel coronavirus have been diagnosed in Gaza so far. The Health Ministry has converted more than a dozen schools into quarantine centers for those returning to the Gaza Strip. According to Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, Gaza’s hospitals are equipped with just 70 intensive care unit beds and face a shortage of ventilators and protective equipment. COGAT, the Israeli agency that coordinates Palestinian civil affairs, announced plans to deliver an advanced medical device used for coronavirus detection, known as a PCR machine, to Gaza’s Shifa Hospital.
April 13 Occupied territories
Excellent overview: 284 Palestinians are confirmed to have COVID-19 in the oPt, 271 in the West Bank (excluding East Jerusalem Palestinians), and 13 in the Gaza Strip, with 58 of these recovering. A 55-year-old man died on 10 April, bringing to two the total number of fatalities, both in the West Bank. The current number of people detected positive for COVID-19 in the oPt, especially in Gaza, remains low relative to other countries, but this may reflect the limited testing capacity. Of increasing concern is the lack of information regarding cases in East Jerusalem, as these are not covered by the Palestinian Ministry of Health (MoH) and are not disaggregated in the overall figures by the Israeli authorities. The capacity of the Palestinian health system to cope with an expected increase in caseload remains severely impaired by longstanding challenges and critical shortages, particularly in Gaza. Unemployment, movement restrictions, and domestic violence is rising.
Ramzy Baroud reflects on a Palestinian’s guide to surviving quarantine, based on 71 years of experience. His thoughts include: Always think ahead and prepare for a longer lockdown than the initial one declared by your city or state. Take control of the situation – do not panic – and assign specific responsibilities to every family member. This strengthens the family unit and sets the stage for collective solidarity desperately required under these circumstances. Be funny, don’t take life too seriously, share a laugh with others, and let humor inject hope in every hour and every day of your quarantine.
April 13 Israel and the Occupied territories
Parallels exist between the US and Israel: limited access to health care for marginalized communities, the stereotyping of people of color as disease-spreaders, and the increased impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on these populations. They both are characterized by systemic inequality whereby the same populations being most neglected with respect to the current pandemic are also those who live in poverty, are part of the working class, and are disproportionately affected by pre-existing health conditions that increase vulnerability to the effects of COVID-19
April 13 Israel
Will EU and pandemic pave way for Israeli global surveillance? Surveillance technologies promising to quickly identify anyone exposed to the virus may find a global market. The danger is that this kind of intrusive surveillance will become permanent. One firm looking to capitalize on this opportunity is Israel’s notorious NSO Group. This is the company that produces malware called Pegasus that can be surreptitiously inserted onto a target’s mobile phone. According to Israeli business publication Globes, “the system will collect information about Israelis, update it in real time, and assign every Israeli an ‘infection rating’ on a scale of one to 10.” “Palestinians seeking to verify whether their permits to remain in Israel are still valid have been instructed by Israel to download an app that enables the military access to their cell phones.” The app, known as "Al Munasiq," or “The Coordinator” in Arabic, allows the army to track the user’s phone location as well as access any notifications they receive, files they download or save, and the device's camera.
Israel’s Apartheid regime is showing itself to be absurdly abnormal even in the most abnormal of times: botched plans for Turkish anti-corona aid contributed to Palestinians, a denial of ventilators for Gaza as part of the new negotiations, dubious patterns of behavior for Mossad acquisition of medical equipment, Shabak monitoring of people through cell phone data, and widespread attacks on Palestinians by settlers and soldiers despite lockdown orders.
April 14 Gaza
The Gaza Strip ran out of COVID-19 testing kits last week. Then Israel allowed five test kits from the World Health Organization into Gaza and testing resumed, enough to test 500 people in a population of two million. There are currently more than 600 Palestinians quarantined in 17 centers in the enclave. The coronavirus pandemic has sickened 13 Palestinians in Gaza and approximately 300 in the occupied West Bank, where two people have died. There are almost 12,000 confirmed cases in Israel and more than 100 dead. It is indeed Israel’s legal obligation as a military occupier under international law to guarantee basic services and health infrastructure for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. The Israeli human rights group Gisha is calling on COGAT and Israel’s defense ministry to lift their restrictions on a long list of so-called “dual-use” items which Israel claims may have military purposes.
A conversation with Matthias Schmale, UNRWA Director on impact of COVID19 in Gaza –
UN General Assembly's Palestinian Rights Committee, the pandemic and how to mitigate its effect on refugees.
April 14 East Jerusalem
After weeks of warning the Israeli government and largely unsuccessful attempts to get Israel to increase testing and PPE supplies, medics are reporting an increase in COVID-19 infection among Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem, estimating that at least 80 patients have been diagnosed. Such an outbreak could be especially severe because of overcrowding, large families living together, a high incidence of diabetes and a large number of smokers. Following a petition from rights group Adalah, the Israeli government announced that three testing clinics would open in East Jerusalem.
April 14 West Bank
The state of emergency in Palestine was declared 40 days ago. Since then, the number of confirmed cases has soared to 284 in Gaza and the West Bank, with an unexpected spike of 10 new confirmed cases. The shutdown has affected Easter celebrations and the beginning of Ramadan.
A group of radical settler youth had been put in a military-run coronavirus quarantine facility for Passover, but they attacked three Palestinians at a nearby camping site. Thus far, no suspects have been arrested. A defense official commented that the incident is further proof that the settlers, belonging to the hilltop youth from Yitzhar are a "violent, extremist and racist group that reigns terror wherever it goes."
April 14 Occupied territories
Like prisoners in the US, Palestinian prisoners in Israeli detention are also among the most vulnerable. April 17, Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, brings new urgency to calls to free all prisoners in the wake of the pandemic. A handful of cases of the virus have already been detected at Ofer prison, just outside of Ramallah in the West Bank. Since March 15, emergency regulations have granted almost unrestrained powers to the Israeli prison authorities, who are commuting daily between their homes in Israel, and the Palestinian prisoners in West Bank jails. Among the new regulations is a ban on visits from families, or even attorneys, unless a court case is imminent.
As of 14 April, a total of 284 Palestinians are confirmed to have COVID-19 in the oPt, 271 in the West Bank (excluding East Jerusalem Palestinians), and 13 in the Gaza Strip, with 58 of these recovering. Excellent detailed summary with graphs and tables.
The West Bank and Gaza Strip are confronting COVID-19 from a reality of Israeli military occupation. The 53-year occupation has seriously depleted medical capabilities in the West Bank and Gaza. The donor-dependent system has shortages in equipment, medication, and staff due to such issues as military raids and restrictions on imports. The Israeli regime is using this global crisis not only to distract from its ongoing violations of human rights, but also as a political tool to gain diplomatic leverage and praise for cooperation with the PA. It is imperative to shift the narrative from cooperation and to highlight the Israeli occupation as an instrument of comorbidity.
April 14 Israel
The Israeli High Court was informed of the government's plan for additional 'assistance' from the Shin Bet, which is already tasked with tracking cellphones of confirmed and suspected coronavirus patients
April 15 Gaza
Personal reflections on Covid 19 from Asmaa Tayeh who lives in the Jabalia Refugee Camp in the north of the Gaza Strip and works as the Operations Manager for We Are Not Numbers (WANN), a citizen journalism project for Palestinian youth in Gaza.
Gaza suffers from a severe siege and restrictions of movement, malnutrition, emotional trauma, a battered health care system, lack of ventilators and protective equipment, lack of water and electricity, extreme crowding. The blame for Gaza’s plight – now and in the future – lands squarely at Israel’s door. For decades Israel has pursued a policy of treating Palestinians as less than human. It has minutely controlled their lives while denying any meaningful responsibility for their welfare. That deeply unethical and inhumane stance could soon face the ultimate test.
Sami Hamid Abib, a resident of Gaza incarcerated as a political prisoner in Israel for four years, reflects on the experience of being released only to be placed under quarantine. Qadura Fares, leader of the Palestinian Prisoners Club advocates releasing detainees who are ill and renewing access to lawyers and contact with families.
April 15 Occupied territories and East Jerusalem
Concerns grow COVID-19 is spreading undetected in Palestine. Delays in testing capacity are making it hard to get an accurate picture of how widespread the disease may be. In East Jerusalem, recorded cases reached 41.
April 15 East Jerusalem
Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem face the prospect of a major coronavirus outbreak, fueled and exacerbated by Israeli neglect. What makes the situation even worse is no one has an accurate picture of how widespread infections are in Palestinian neighborhoods. Cases in East Jerusalem are not covered by the Palestinian Ministry of Health and are not disaggregated in the overall figures by the Israeli authorities. There are about 300 confirmed cases in the West Bank, outside Jerusalem, while Israel has recorded more than 12,000 cases. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in East Jerusalem went from five to almost 100 in the past three weeks alone. Of the six hospitals in East Jerusalem, only two are equipped with special coronavirus units. OCHA notes that the Jerusalem hospitals serving Palestinians “continue to suffer from chronic underfunding, which hinders the provision of medical drugs and treatment.” The European Union last week announced an emergency aid package of around $71 million to help Palestinians fight the pandemic. It includes almost $10 million in additional funding for the East Jerusalem hospitals.
April 15 Israel
When an insular ultra-Orthodox community became an epicenter for the coronavirus, its leaders did the unthinkable, calling on the military to help turn things around. The very customs that have protected its traditions from change — strict limits on modern technology, an aversion to secular media, a deep suspicion of state institutions — had deafened Bnei Brak’s residents to urgent public health warnings.
April 16 West Bank
A Palestinian doctor working in Ramallah discusses his day. The emergency room sees 400 patients per day; 20 to 40 patients are admitted to internal medicine. Those who test positive for COVID-19 are transferred to the Hugo Chavez Ophthalmic Hospital, now converted into an intensive care facility. There are 256 ventilators in the WB for a population of 3.2 million. Israel has 12,591 confirmed cases of COVID-19 while only 295 cases have surfaced the West Bank and Gaza. The United Nations warned this week the Palestinian Authority is facing financial collapses amid the pandemic.
April 16 Occupied territories
Ever since the coronavirus outbreak in Palestine, the issue of Palestinian prisoners has come to the forefront, with a number of reports claiming prisoners were exposed through contact with Israeli doctors and prison officials. Activists and right groups have decried what they call a “deliberate policy of medical negligence” in Israeli military prisons, overcrowded cells, and unhygienic conditions that put prisoners at increased risk of contracting the virus. On Palestinian Prisoners Day, families remembered the 5,000 Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli jails, 541 of whom are serving one or multiple life sentences.
April 16 Occupied territories and Israel
There are more than 12,000 confirmed cases in Israel, around 350 in the West Bank and 13 in Gaza. The current crisis offers states and corporations, driven by the desire to accumulate power at the best of times, a unique opportunity to expand and consolidate their control. What is new here is the use of technologies tested on Palestinians against the privileged Israeli Jewish population who were previously largely shielded from such intrusion. This pandemic is a chance for reflection for people born in safe places, who are used to taking their rights for granted. Even under lockdown, many still have access to healthcare, housing, education and freedoms that others facing the same pandemic do not. COVID-19 exploits and exacerbates existing inequalities, globally and within societies.
April 16 Israel
Hundreds in Tel Aviv turn out over police curbs on protests during the Coronavirus crisis. The demonstration was one of several reacting to restrictions on public protest, such as a 10-metre (33’) distance between protesters. The restrictions are stricter than those mandated by the Health Ministry, state emergency regulations, or law.
Tens of thousands of Palestinian health care professionals are putting themselves on the line in Israel’s battle against COVID-19. According to official government data published in the daily Haaretz newspaper, Palestinians now make up 17% of the country’s doctors, 24% of the nurses, and 48% of the pharmacists. A Tel Aviv University think tank led by former military top brass, urged the government to create a “positive basis” for “full integration” of Arabs in Israeli society and for “an end to exclusionary and racist discourse and statements that call into question Arab loyalty.” The Health Ministry reports that only about 459 of Israel’s 12,591 COVID-19 cases, or 3.6%, come from Arab towns. The Palestinian Authority reports another 81 cases in East Jerusalem.
April 15, 16 International
WHO, now Trump’s scapegoat, warned about Coronavirus early and often. The World Health Organization, always cautious, acted more forcefully and faster than many national governments. Responding to Fox News pundits and Republican lawmakers President Trump has decided to freeze 500 million in US funding to the organization. While it made mistakes, there is little evidence that WHO is responsible for the disasters that have unfolded in Europe and the US. Note: WHO is coordinating the response to Covid 19 in the oPt, decreasing funding will have disastrous effects.
New York Times
April 17 Gaza
"Nightmare" and "catastrophe" - that is what a coronavirus outbreak in Gaza would look like in the words of a top UN official. The population is already vulnerable and Gaza has only 87 adult intensive care beds with ventilators for its 2 million people, meaning its health service would be quickly overwhelmed. "If desperate people had nowhere to escape an outbreak, or they were ill, knowing the only medical facilities were on the Israeli side, they would try to cross the fence," the UN official said. "Based on previous experience, it's not unreasonable to assume Israeli forces would open fire.” There are just 13 known cases of infection so far. All of them are people who came in from outside and who were quarantined. But there were 2,500 more waiting to enter at the Rafah crossing point with Egypt, with some 200 a day being let through and those numbers will increase with Ramadan.
April 17 Occupied territories
There are 5,000 Palestinians currently held in Israeli prisons, including 700 who are sick. Prisoners are vulnerable due to lack of precautions and crowding in Israeli jails. As of April 16, Israel has reported more than 12,000 cases of coronavirus infections and 143 deaths linked to it. The Palestinian Authority has confirmed a total of 295 cases across the West Bank and Gaza, of whom two people have died. There are many demands to release the most vulnerable prisoners.
April 17 West Bank
A band of 20 Israeli squatters diagnosed with Covid-19, who had been placed in quarantine in their squatter-settlement on Palestinian land in the West Bank’s Ghor Valley, broke out and attacked a nearby Palestinian hamlet. They are members of the violent “Hilltop Youth” extremist group. Palestinian sources also say that Israeli authorities are interfering with Palestinian attempts to stop the spread of the disease. The Israeli military closed down a medical center in Silwan set up to combat pandemic, on the grounds that it partnered with the Palestine authority across the green line.
April 17 West Bank and East Jerusalem
In the shadow of Israeli watchtowers and settlements, village councils and political committees have co-opted an emblem of their occupier and set up improvised checkpoints — to enforce a Palestinian Authority lockdown in areas where Palestinian police are not permitted to patrol. "We do not imitate the Israeli occupation," activist Nasser Khatib insisted. "We call this a checkpoint of love and peace." The West Bank has recorded fewer than 300 cases of infection and two deaths. The Palestinian leadership, which usually has a 30% to 40% overall approval rating, enjoys 96% support for its response to the coronavirus, according to a recent poll.
April 17 Israel
Most of the Haredi community is said to have observed the health restrictions meticulously, but some leading rabbis even violated their own admonitions and held Passover ceremonies with hundreds of people.
“Israel is Heading for a Shin Bet Police State.” Lead Haaretz editorial expresses dismay at the anticipated decision by the High Court to allow the Health Ministry to expand surveillance of Israeli citizens as a means of containing the coronavirus outbreak. Petitions opposing the move were heard. HaAretz wrote, “Security cannot be used as a cover for every breach of privacy and neither can public health.”
April 18 East Jerusalem
An elderly Palestinian woman became the first fatal victim of COVID-19 in occupied East Jerusalem, amid Israeli neglect. The number of cases in East Jerusalem is 105. Israeli police recently shuttered a COVID-19 screening facility in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan - the testing was unauthorized, they said, because it was only overseen by the PA, and not Israel. Israel recently doubled the number of its screening centers in Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem from three to six following a petition to the supreme court by a rights group.
April 18 Occupied territories
Decades of living in overcrowded refugee camps and a rapid transition to cheap and readily available high calorie foods, in part a result of the neoliberal economic changes that came with the Oslo Accords, have led to an explosive increase in obesity and diabetes among Palestinians, leaving them more vulnerable to the Coronavirus. Israel’s military occupation, and a neocolonial aid regime with ever tightening donor restrictions, have contributed to a fragmented and underfunded health system that makes Palestinians more susceptible to a pandemic. There are fewer than 120 ventilators in public hospitals for the 3.2 million people in the West Bank, and only 65 ICU beds for the two million in Gaza, of which 26 are available for Covid-19 patients. The response from accountable bodies has been anemic and openly hostile so Palestinians in camps have resorted to community-based responses to protect themselves. Covid-19 makes clear that the health of Palestinians is intrinsically linked to their liberation.
April 18 Israel
Dozens of geriatric patients, many already intubated, were removed to coronavirus wards after testing for the virus conducted by the prestigious Weizman Institute, which however is not usually involved in clinical diagnostics. Subsequent re-testing produced negative results in all cases and the health ministry believes the initial samples were contaminated at Weizman. The health ministry commented that some error is the price of mass testing.
April 19 Gaza
The National (UAE) reports that Ismail Abu Skheila and Esam Khalafallah, engineers at the Islamic University in Gaza, have built a prototype ventilator using $200 worth of parts. There are only 45 working ventilators in Gaza's hospitals, and all are currently in use. The prototype is powered by a wiper motor from a car, because they are cheap, readily available, and can run for 24 hours on regular electricity, but can also work on a 10-hour battery in the event of a power cut. The device will be tested by the Palestinian Ministry of Health. There are reportedly 12 cases of COVID-19 in Gaza, but as there is a severe shortage of test kits, the true number of infections is unknown.
April 5 – April 11, 2020
Mondoweiss Update on Coronavirus and Gaza
April West Bank
Journal and photo blog by Btselem employee quarantined in Bethlehem.
April 5 East Jerusalem, West Bank, Israel
East Jerusalem worries of healthcare collapse over coronavirus with shortages of resources and staff. With Israeli neglect and the Palestinian Authority banned from operating, Palestinians in East Jerusalem battle coronavirus on their own. In 6 East Jerusalem hospitals there are 20 respirators. In case an outbreak starts, they will need between 300-400 devices. There are a total of 72 beds set aside in just 3 hospitals for coronavirus patients. There are in Israel 8,018 cases and 46 deaths related to the disease. But by March 30, there had only been 54 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among the 20 % of Palestinian citizens in Israel because of a lack of testing. A coronavirus testing center was just set up in the neighborhood of Jabal Mukaber in East Jerusalem. 81 local Palestinian NGOs joined together to form the "Jerusalem Alliance" to provide support to neglected Palestinians in East Jerusalem, setting up quarantine centers in hotels and medical tents.
April 4 Israel
Confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus have been soaring in ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities around the world, most of all in Brooklyn neighborhoods and in Israel. The Israeli city of Bnei Brak, east of Tel Aviv, has become an epicenter of COVID-19 in the country, with some estimates that 40 % of the city’s nearly 200,000 residents have been infected. There are one million Haredim in Israel — over 10 % of the population — but they currently account for as much as 60 % of Israel’s COVID-19 cases in major hospitals. In total thus far, nearly 8,000 Israelis have tested positive and 44 people have died. There was a governmental failure to properly communicate with the Haredi community, whose religious practices required different methods for raising awareness about the pandemic and who suffer from poverty, density, and lack of trust in the authorities. .
April 5 Israel
Current lab material supply is only enough for a few more days' worth of coronavirus tests as laboratories, drive-thru centers slash testing as Germany and South Korean sources run short. Israel now has over 8,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, the vast majority of them mild. The Health Ministry said it is constantly working alongside the Defense Ministry, the military and the Mossad to meet its goal of 10,000 tests per day.
April 6 Gaza
In Gaza, there are 12 cases, all Palestinians who returned to the Strip from other countries and were immediately quarantined, or who were exposed to those travelers.
But if that situation changes, we are in trouble due to the lack of clean water, constant electricity blackouts, shortage of appropriate cleaning supplies and insufficient health care equipment. At the heart of all these problems, though, is the overcrowding: With nearly 2 million people, Gaza is home to more than 42,000 people per square mile.
Government hospitals, considered to be the most prepared to deal with “corona” cases, have just 2,000 beds and the daily occupancy rate already is typically 90%. There are 87 ventilators in Gaza—all in use by people who have suffered heart attacks, strokes and other crises requiring critical care. Gaza’s greatest hope at this point is to stop “community spread” from occurring by strictly quarantining anyone who enters the Strip. As the world focuses on the COVID-19 hotspots and races to prevent more from emerging, is anyone paying attention to Gaza?
We are Not Numbers
Coronavirus: Hard work and ingenuity as Gaza rises to the challenge. While residents of Gaza have been particularly fearful of the potential effects of Covid-19 in an area already deeply strained by the effects of nearly 13 years of siege, a spirit of helpfulness and solidarity has gripped the Palestinian territory.
Middle East Eye
April 6 West Bank
Between March 17 and 30, “at least 16 attacks by Israeli settlers resulted in five Palestinian injuries and extensive property damage,” the UN reported. “This represents a 78% increase compared to the bi-weekly average of incidents since the start of 2020.” The report also noted a decrease in injuries during clashes with Palestinians and soldiers, as well as a decrease in IDF activity against Palestinians. Some 40 Palestinians, including 70 children, were injured by Israeli security forces. Since the Palestinian government has declared a state of emergency in the Palestinian Territories on March 6, 2020, as a preventive measure to control the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor has documented 207 Israeli incursions into Palestinian cities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. These incursions included the arrest of 191 Palestinians, attacks on dozens of others, and demolishing Palestinian houses. The majority of these operations took place without any preventive measures and without soldiers wearing appropriate masks to prevent the spread of the virus.
April 6 Israel and West Bank
Israel plans to produce special masks to accommodate bearded ultra-Orthodox Jews. At the same time, Palestinian citizens of Israel, who comprise about 20 % of the country's population, have felt "left out" of the country's protective measures to fight the coronavirus, according to Member of the Knesset Ahmad Tibi of the Joint List. In Israel, at least 51 people have died and 8,611 people have been infected . In the West Bank, 252 have been infected including 40 children.
There are 210 intensive care units in all Palestinian hospitals, half of them already occupied. Nearly a month after the first cases were reported in Palestine, less than 13,000 tests have been carried out - a fraction of the number conducted in Israel, which carries out an average of 10,000 tests a day. The PA has recorded 252 cases of coronavirus and one death. Around 190,000 Palestinians work in Israel and in settlements built illegally in the occupied West Bank, including around 60,000 who work in Israel without documentation. Many fear an influx of cases as these workers return home during Passover. Those who have chosen to stay in the WB face devastating economic losses.
April 7 Gaza
The attempt to compare the closure that free citizens of the West are experiencing to the 13-year siege on the Strip is, at the very least, tasteless. Now that the virus has crossed the military checkpoints and 12 Palestinians have been diagnosed as infected, the distortion of this comparison is going to become tragically clear. Gaza residents will suffer not just from the natural complications the virus causes, but from the fact that the siege puts them at an extreme disadvantage in all three categories considered vital to battling the coronavirus epidemic: health services, social conditions that determine the level of health, and the ability to keep social distance from one another.
April 7 West Bank
There are 261 confirmed cases of the virus, the majority of which have come from Palestinian laborers working in Israel and their family members. New stories and rumors emerge in the community about how the virus is being spread: people ignoring their quarantine orders, concealing their illness from authorities, or knowingly interacting with neighbors and family members even though they are sick, afraid of social stigma. Resilience is evident in vigorous education campaigns, rooftop and balcony “quarantine parties,” brides and grooms choosing to use their wedding budgets to feed needy people. Meanwhile the Deal of the Century and land annexation continues.
Existential fears, hope and solidarity: Coping under 30 days of quarantine in Aida Camp. Since the city of Bethlehem was shut down due to a coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in the city, its residents were put on lockdown, including thousands of Palestine refugees. Entire communities, like the Aida Refugee Camp, immediately felt the impact of the shutdown as their workforce were suddenly at home, schools were cancelled, and the bustling streets of the camp fell silent.
April 7 Israel and Occupied territories
There are 247 cases in the West Bank and 13 in Gaza, but only 1500 people have been tested in Gaza. According to Btselem, Israel is responsible for Palestinians’ right to health. However, the usual treatment of Israel as a benefactor – rather than as an occupier with specific obligations under international humanitarian law – per the latest from the UN, shows how that framing normalizes and facilitates a fundamentally unjust situation. Not only is Israel not adequately equipping Jerusalem hospitals serving Palestinian residents, but its police are arresting Palestinian Authority officials for coordinating coronavirus response efforts in the city. Adalah, a group that advocates for the rights of Palestinians in Israel, is demanding that Israel “provide coronavirus testing for residents of Palestinian towns in [the] Upper Galilee.”
Coronavirus 'disaster' at an Israeli chicken factory prompted a policy revamp on Palestinian workers. Palestinian workers were housed in several large warehouses on the factory grounds, sleeping between 15 to 20 people to a space while sharing the toilets and showers. Israel said it would establish a procedure for testing Palestinian laborers suspected of having been infected by the coronavirus in Israel, as Palestinians point to a factory near Jerusalem as a possible source of the outbreak in the West Bank, after Israel refused the request.
In the West Bank there is an increasing fear of a coronavirus outbreak due to the imminent return of thousands of Palestinian workers from their jobs in Israel over the Passover holiday. Another source of anxiety is the recent sample tests in which some Palestinians tested positive for the virus. 240 people have been infected in the West Bank. The PA said all workers who return from Israel will be obligated to take an initial health test, and if there are early symptoms they will be sent for a coronavirus test, although there is a shortage of testing. The main difficulty is in the West Bank’s Areas B and C, where there is no open presence of the Palestinian police and security forces, and therefore the PA are being assisted by local citizens’ groups setting up roadblocks at the entrances to the communities.
April 7 Israel
Palestinian students in Israel are being disproportionately disadvantaged by the switch to remote online learning in light of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Supreme Court petition filed on Sunday by the Palestinian human rights group Adalah and other NGOs. Half of Palestinian students in the country are unable to connect to online classes, while roughly a third do not have access to a computer or tablet. In unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Naqab/Negev, the situation is even worse. More than 50,000 students in the Naqab’s 48 villages, recognized and unrecognized, have been cut off from their studies. The unrecognized villages in particular are already facing a potential humanitarian disaster in the face of the novel coronavirus, due to their lack basic infrastructure such as electricity, water, and sanitation.
Suspicions that the Haredi community is responsible for the spread of coronavirus has placed Bnei Brak under siege and cast its residents as contagious criminals. Israel has 8,611 confirmed cases of Covid-19, with 56 deaths. In Jerusalem, around half of those infected come from the Ultra-Orthodox minority. Major hospitals in the center of the country have instructed staff to promptly segregate every Haredi woman giving birth and treat her as a confirmed coronavirus patient. These mothers will subsequently have their babies under inferior conditions and be separated from their newborns immediately afterwards. Since the outbreak of coronavirus in Israel, the Haredi leadership has made every conceivable mistake in its response. Passover traditions are also severely stressed and threatened.
Suppliers of ventilators from the US, Germany and China backed out from providing equipment, leaving medical authorities with narrow options to avoid shortages in battle against the coronavirus. Israel has 2,864 ventilators, only about half of which would be available to new coronavirus patients. Protective gear for medical personnel are in short supply. For example, the country has 20 million surgical masks, which would be expected to suffice only until the end of this month. There is also a shortage of high-performance N95 masks and of gowns, goggles and overalls. Mossad espionage agency has become Israel’s dominant player in leading procurement efforts and chasing down medical equipment.
April 8 East Jerusalem
Coronavirus: Rights group demands Israel open testing centers in Palestinian areas.To get tested, residents of Kufr Aqab and the Shuafat camp have to travel through Israeli checkpoints to Jerusalem. Not only does this kind of travel pose major health risks, it is extremely difficult for certain parts of the communities, like women, children and the elderly, to access these far-away testing sites.
Middle East Eye
April 8 Occupied territories
As of April 5th, the occupied Palestinian territories, Gaza and the West Bank including East Jerusalem, have registered 228 cases of COVID-19. Decades of displacement, dispossession, conflict, military occupation and blockade have weakened existing medical services and systemically disregarded Palestinian rights to life and health. In Gaza current figures show that public hospitals have only 78 intensive care beds and 72% of those beds are being used, leaving 22 intensive care beds available for a population of nearly 2 million people. The current moment, including the Deal of the Century and the COVID-19 challenge, presents a stark reminder to policy-makers in the US and Israel that annexation and permanent occupation are not a formula for just peace and sustainable security, and they must end.
April 8 Gaza
The Gaza Strip has no more coronavirus test kits. Gaza has reported 13 cases of coronavirus infection, all of whom are at quarantine facilities. But officials have voiced concern that a shortage of critical equipment and medical supplies could set off a rapid spread amongst the enclave’s two million people. The Health Ministry appealed to international organizations to provide Gaza with testing kits as well as 100 ventilators and 140 beds for intensive care units. Israel linked any coronavirus aid it might offer Palestinians there to progress in its attempt to recover two Israeli soldiers lost during the 2014 war in the enclave. The West Bank has reported 250 cases.
Muhammad Eleiwa, now 19, was protesting along the boundary fence east of Gaza City in November 2018 when he was shot by Israeli snipers, and his right leg was amputated as a result. He talks about his experience and perspectives in this 4 ½ minute video, expressing hope for the future. “My dream is to participate in the World Cup, representing the Palestinian team of amputees and achieving our goals and dreams.”
April 8 Israel and the Occupied territories
While the world is rightfully focused on “flattening curves” and “physical distancing,” with coping under a halted economy and worrying about loved ones, Israel’s occupation and systemic racism continue to guide policy – just as they have throughout history. Since the state of emergency was declared, Israel has carried out mass arrests (detaining 85 people, including 10 children) and demolished, forced people to self-demolish or seized more than 40 places of business and homes as the world is being told to “stay home.” Israeli settlers continue their attacks – on both people and properties – with impunity. Gaza remains blockaded, even as the health sector is on the verge of collapse as a result of Israel’s 13-year closure. Palestinian prisoners in Israeli detention are among the most vulnerable. Since 15 March, emergency regulations have granted almost unrestrained powers to the prison authorities. They bar prisoners from meeting with families or lawyers and allow telephone consultation only if a court case is imminent.
April 8 Israel
Israel imposed a Passover curfew as Coronavirus cases topped 9,400 and a hospital in an ultra-Orthodox hot spot says it can't accept more coronavirus patients on life support. 248 cases have been registered among West Bankers and 13 in Gaza. An intelligence source in the Palestinian Authority told Haaretz that in recent days, security services had been able to source about 20,000 testing kits, some from China, and the rest from Arab and Islamic countries, and international aid organizations. Gaza continues to have severe shortages.
A detailed summary of Adalah's legal work defending human rights, including demanding coronavirus testing for disadvantaged populations, developing plans to stop the spread in Gaza, and preventive measures in Israeli prisons.
As Netanyahu continues racist incitement against Arab citizens, Israeli security forces are unleashing violence on Palestinian communities. Palestinian citizens of Israel are being portrayed as a threat to the health and lives of Jewish citizens - a continuation of the longstanding discourse that portrays them as a fifth column and illegitimate citizens.
April 9 Israel
Thanks to the coronavirus, more and more government bodies, (including the Shin Bet, Health, Interior and Defense Ministries, and police), and private groups are tracking where Israelis are and what they're doing. Without any right of appeal thousands of Israelis have been wrongly ordered into quarantine. For many it means no longer earning a salary and or caring for their children or elderly parents. The only protests so far have come from a handful of privacy experts and nongovernmental organizations, such as the Israel Democracy Institute, Adalah and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.
The Israeli government’s long-running campaign to forcibly secularize Israel’s Ultra-Orthodox Jews has left them particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus. There has been a great deal of blame thrown at the Haredi community by the Israeli public and the press, claiming that they did not act swiftly enough to stop the spread of the virus. There are claims that their “backwardness” got in the way of effective action. It’s the poverty and crowdedness, not Jewish religious practice or Haredi misbehavior that led to their lack of information and preparedness.
April 10, West Bank, Israel
Summary of Covid 19: 267 confirmed Palestinian cases of COVID-19; 2 deaths. A total of 13 cases in Gaza, 9 have already recovered. Closures and health expenditures have hit the Palestinian economy. Officials estimate $ 3.8 billion in losses; Palestinian deficit expected to increase to $1.4 billion. Over 10,000 have tested positive for COVID-19 in Israel; 95 have died.
Of the Palestinians affected: 89 Palestinian workers in Israel, 103 cases that were infected through close contact, 29 cases from Palestinians returning from abroad, 40 infected from tourists in Bethlehem, 1 Palestinian who tested positive after being released from prison in Israel Prisoners, 1 Palestinian healthcare worker.
April 10 Israel
The health system is in hysteria: Israeli doctors and hospital officials warn of major Coronavirus fallout. As the epidemic is set to peak, physicians and senior health officials spoke out on their concerns. The main issues are availability of ventilators, disparities between central and periphery communities, structural inadequacies, poor leadership within the Israeli health care system, deficient care in old age homes, lack of PPEs, and neglect of other diseases.
April 11 Occupied territories
There are 269 cases, with 58 recovered and 2 deaths in the West Bank. A State of Emergency across the oPt was extended through early May 2020. The region is troubled by increasing shortages in personal protective equipment (PPE) kits and supplies to conduct COVID-19 tests. The Inter-agency Response Plan for the COVID-19 crisis is 86 % funded. Concerns have been raised regarding the return of thousands of potentially infected Palestinian workers employed in Israel, in advance of the Jewish Passover holiday, which started on the evening of 8 April. Gazans continue to be severely disadvantaged in terms of resources, restrictions of movement, and economic devastation.
Settler attacks rise by 78 % amid the pandemic. Even after UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for a global ceasefire to obstruct the spread of the pandemic, Israel killed two Palestinians, including a child, and increased its attacks. Israel continued its “military raids into the West Bank, conducted widespread arrests and administrative detentions, allowed for serious spikes in settler violence and continued its draconian closure of the Gaza Strip,” the Palestinian rights organization Al Haq has stated. While Mohammad Shtayyeh, the Palestinian Authority’s prime minister, ordered a two-week lockdown on all Palestinian residents in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, during that time, his decision had no bearing on some 800,000 Israelis living in illegal settlements.
April 11 Gaza, Israel
Despite pandemic, Israeli forces drop herbicide on Gaza and shoot at fishermen in the Gaza Sea preventing them from sailing and fishing freely, accessing the zones rich in fish, despite the fact that fishermen posed no threat to the lives of Israeli naval forces deployed in Gaza waters. Gisha–Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, and Adalah–The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel sent an urgent letter to Israeli authorities yesterday demanding an immediate halt to Israel’s aerial herbicide spraying in the eastern Gaza Strip as Palestinians in Gaza desperately fight to keep coronavirus at bay and prevent its outbreak into the wider population.
April 11 Israel
Elbit, Israel’s top arms exporter, is busily promoting how its innovations can benefit health care. Elbit claims to have developed a “remote coronavirus testing system.” Using a radar, it can apparently measure the temperatures and heartbeats of patients without actually touching them. At the same time, demand for Israeli weapons has never been higher, much of it first used against Gazans. Data compiled by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute suggests that Israel’s arms exports grew by 77 % in the 2015 to 2019 period, when compared with the period between 2010 and 2014.
April 11 International
The UN envoys in the Middle East have urged all warring parties in the region to end hostilities and turn their focus to "the true fight of our lives" - tackling the threat posed by the coronavirus pandemic. Guterres said on April 3 that warring parties in 11 countries had responded positively to his ceasefire appeal: Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Colombia, Libya, Myanmar, the Philippines, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen. Note absence of Israel.
April 12 Israel, Occupied territories
Coronavirus continues to spread with 10,878 cases in Israel, 255 in the West Bank, and 13 in Gaza. In Israel, face masks are mandatory, there are shortages of testing materials and lockdowns of ultra-Orthodox cities and East Jerusalem where transmission is high. Unemployment is now at 25.8%. Hamas and Israel are holding indirect negotiations for a prisoner exchange deal in exchange for humanitarian aid. For the first time since its establishment, the country has shut its doors to non-Israeli Jews living abroad. The Palestinian Finance demands Israel transfer a minimum of 500 million shekels ($140 million) a month to the Palestinian Authority as part of tax revenues that Israeli authorities collect on behalf of the Palestinians to help it grapple with the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus.
March 29 – April 4, 2020
COVID-19 and the Healthcare Systems in Israel and Palestine, 3 part webinar.
The webinar series, co-moderated by FMEPs Lara Friedman and MEI’s Kahled Elgindy, examines how the COVID 19 crisis impacts the very different and yet highly interconnected environments in Israel/Palestine, highlighting expert voices on the ground.
Palestine solidarity activism hasn’t stopped: Watch these webinars, interviews, and virtual rallies while social distancing. Those focused on Covid 19 include: Bethlehem-based correspondent Yumna Patel discussing the state of COVID-19 in the West Bank, Jewish Voice for Peace holding a virtual rally to call for an end to the blockade of Gaza, Jewish Voice for Peace’s Beth Miller interviewing Palestinian youth activist and journalist Janna Jihad as part of the group’s Solidarity in the time of Coronavirus series, +972’s held a webinar on coronavirus and politics in Israel-Palestine..
March 29 Occupied Palestinian Territories
The No Way to Treat a Child Campaign calls for the release of all 186 child prisoners in Israeli detention due to the increasing vulnerability created by the rapid global spread of the COVID-19 virus and to safeguard their right to life, survival, development, and health in accordance with international law.
March 30 Gaza
There are mounting fears that a COVID-19 outbreak, combined with the Israeli siege, could be a recipe for genocide in Gaza. To date, Israel has only allowed a few hundred Coronavirus test kits into the besieged territory with a population of nearly two million. Gaza have been in a state of emergency since 1948. But no one has listened to us. So we’re asking, aren’t we human like you?
Hamas is preparing for mass quarantines, building two massive facilities. The Health Ministry stated that the newest case was confirmed among the quarantined who recently entered Gaza from Egypt, bringing the total covid 19 in Gaza to 10. Only 20% of the 1700 people under quarantine have been tested. Gaza has 60 ventilators and 45 are currently in use. COGAT, the Israeli body responsible for Palestinian civilian issues, said it has coordinated the delivery of hundreds of test kits by WHO, as well as protective equipment, medicine, and disinfectant.
While doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals around the world are heroically battling the growing coronavirus pandemic, spare a thought for those doing so in a place a UN investigation last year called “one of the most dangerous places in the world for healthcare workers”. With health workers the world over now confronting a common challenge in the form of the coronavirus pandemic, now is the time to send a clear message that attacks on them will not be tolerated anywhere.
March 30 West Bank
The experience of the coronavirus in the West Bank serves as a perfect example of how Israel rules over Palestinians. While the coronavirus doesn’t differentiate between Israelis and Palestinians, Israel does. Everything in this country is politicized and affected by the colonial structure. Since its creation in 1994 the PA has never succeeded in gaining any kind of self-sufficiency as a government. Palestinian West Bank hospitals are facing the coronavirus with 120 respirators for a population of 2.9 million. Although, coronavirus cases among Israeli citizens are 40 times larger than the Palestinian cases, the Israeli military has closed the West Bank as “a precaution against the coronavirus”.
March 30 Israel, Occupied Palestinian Territories
The Palestinian health care system has been held back by military occupation and is unprepared for the coronavirus onslaught. Israel must act swiftly as the occupying power. In the oPt there have been 108 cases. The Palestinian Authority acted quickly with the outbreak of the virus. The PA worked with Israel to prevent further spread by shutting off the Bethlehem governorate from the rest of the West Bank and Israel. The PA estimates it will need 40,000 test kits and 2,800 ventilators in the West Bank alone. Israel should relieve restrictions and release tax revenue, $11 million per month for starters.
March 30 Israel
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his close aides have been placed under precautionary quarantine after a staff member within his office tested positive for the coronavirus. Israeli health authorities have so far confirmed 16 deaths and over 4,300 infections from the virus.
A country led by an ethnocentric, racist prime minister has come up against a universal threat that affects all people under its control. Challenged to address all people, Netanyahu came up with: “We can do this together. All citizens, [including Palestinian citizens] all residents, [East Jerusalemites] whoever is listening to me now, [ie Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza] follow these guidelines, and we will achieve our goal.”
March 31 West Bank, Gaza
Occupation forces sometimes wearing hazmat suits and carrying assault rifles continue to attack Palestinian communities, including food parcels for quarantined families. There were 119 confirmed coronavirus cases among Palestinians, the vast majority of them in the occupied West Bank, though the number of cases is growing in Gaza. Israel, whose caseload has surged to more than 5,000, is struggling to contain the outbreak. Since 3/23 Israel has been expelling Palestinian workers back to the West Bank, bringing infection with them. Concern continues for the 5,000 Palestinian prisoners held in Israel. Israel facilitated the import of 10,000 test kits by the Palestinian Authority and held a training for medical staff at East Jerusalem’s al-Makassed hospital. Gaza has 12 confirmed cases.
Bernie Sanders is one of eight senators who signed a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week urging the Trump administration to restore US humanitarian aid to Palestinians. It was initiated by senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland. 1o6 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the West Bank and 9 Gaza Strip.
There were 117 confirmed cases of the virus — 10 in the Gaza Strip, and 107 in the West Bank. The majority of the new cases have been reported in a cluster of villages in the central West Bank district, west of Jerusalem city, known as the “Biddu enclave,” and are believed to have originated from sick laborers who were working inside Israel and Israeli settlements. The majority of the population, both in the private and public sectors, are out of work, and whatever little savings they have left are running out. Ordinary citizens and local factories have stepped in to ease the pain being felt by their community.
March 31 Gaza
Gaza ramps up medical equipment production: textile factories produce protective covering and masks and needed jobs. The Palestinian territory has confirmed just 10 cases of the disease but medics fear a wider spread would have devastating effects on the territory.
March 31 Israel, Occupied Palestinian Territories
Emergency directives issued by the Israeli authorities, which bar freedom of movement and other activities under the pretext of the coronavirus, are making it harder to monitor, document, and defend against Israel’s violations of Palestinian human rights in multiple areas of life, say Palestinian and Israeli rights groups. New detainees, according to new regulations around the pandemic implemented on March 15, must be quarantined for 14 days before they can be interrogated. The Israeli Public Security Minister can now ban family visits for prisoners and detainees, and limit prisoners’ consultations with a lawyer to the telephone only.
March 31 United States
Mara Kronenfeld, Executive Director of the UNRWA USA National Committee (UNRWA USA), thanked elected officials in the US Senate and Congress who urged Secretary of State Pompeo to reinstate humanitarian aid to the West Bank and Gaza, stating that “The use of these funds requires neither additional legislative language nor supplemental appropriations. The administration must act immediately to ensure assistance reaches some of the world.”
April 1 Gaza
The coronavirus is now present in Gaza, the populous Palestinian enclave blockaded by air, land and sea since 2007. An epidemic would be calamitous. Hamas should tighten public health measures; Israel should loosen restrictions so that medical supplies can enter and afflicted Palestinians can leave. In the worst-case scenario where 100,000 people require hospitalization there are only 2,500 beds available. There are 65 ventilators in use or in poor condition. The worry in Gaza is not whether supermarkets might run out of supplies but where families might get the money to purchase them. Poverty is staggering: more than 80 per cent of the population relies on humanitarian aid. It is not merely the health care sector’s weakness that threatens Gaza’s ability to manage a COVID-19 outbreak. The precipitous decline in the quality of life as a result of the blockade has undermined basic hygiene, most evident in the shortage of water and sewage treatment facilities, which further hampers efforts to prevent the virus’s spread.
International Crisis Group
April 1 West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza
Despite widespread shutdowns, curfews, and quarantines, Israel has continued to raid Palestinian cities and towns, arrest and imprison Palestinians, demolish homes and tear down structures, and facilitate attacks carried out by settlers. Photos and videos show armed and masked Israeli forces raiding homes while wearing protective health gear over their army uniforms. In the city of Hebron, CCTV footage purportedly shows armed Israeli forces spitting on Palestinian cars as they patrolled streets. In Gaza, Israeli forces reportedly opened fire on Palestinian farmers on the outskirts of the southern Gaza Strip, near the border fence. In East Jerusalem, Israeli forces sparked outrage after they were recorded arresting four Palestinian volunteer health workers as they were disinfecting public facilities outside the Lion’s Gate of the Old City.
April 1 Israel
In Bnei Brak 35 percent of those tested had the virus, in other ultra-Orthodox towns residents received positive results at much higher rates than the national average
Israel linked any assistance it might offer for the Gaza Strip's efforts against coronavirus to progress in its attempt to retrieve the bodies of two Israeli soldiers who are held captive by Hamas in the enclave since the 2014 Gaza war. Blockaded and impoverished, Gaza has reported 12 coronavirus cases and authorities worry that local health facilities - with just 96 ventilators for a population of 2 million - are insufficient to contain a contagion.
Community and professional Palestinian citizens of Israel have rallied from donation drives, to online therapy sessions, to virtual skill-sharing classes, in cooperation and solidarity. The state’s racism is another factor that has pushed Palestinian citizens of Israel to come together.
The Israeli government decided to deploy 1,000 soldiers to patrol the streets, man barricades and be used as an auxiliary force to the national and border police. Deploying soldiers in the streets is just another manifestation of the further militarization of Israeli society under the shadow of the pandemic. Shin Bet, the domestic security service, is authorized to use its advanced surveillance methods to monitor people who are in contact or in proximity of persons infected by Covid-19. This decision revealed secret technological measures, which are based on mobile phones and the antennas that connect them. These controversial measures, built to spy on Israel’s enemies, spies and terror suspects, are now used to spy on Israeli citizens, giving them a tiny taste of the Palestinian experience.
Middle East Eye
April 2 Gaza
Artists in the densely populated Gaza Strip on 30 March launched an initiative to encourage residents to wear face masks to help contain the spread of the coronavirus. Long before anyone had ever heard of this coronavirus, Gazans had already been forced to practice “social” – or as it is called now – “physical distancing” from the rest of the world with devastating public health implications. Ten cases of corona virus have been reported.
Interview with Gazan physician: We don’t have enough hospitals, or primary care centers, we don’t have essential medications—about 50 % of essential medications and supplies are not available—and even basic medical equipment is not available in sufficient quantity. There is a shortage of providers, personal protective equipment, test kits, primary health care centers and hospital beds. There have only been 9 cases. Based on epidemiologic estimates, approximately 80 percent of the population will be infected, with 20 percent of these cases expected to be severe and 5 percent will require ICUs. Currently we have 60 ICU beds and 56 ventilators in all of Gaza for two million people. If the curve spikes so that cases happen all at one time, we aren’t going to be able to absorb them and stem the tide.
April 2 Gaza
Sarah Algherbawi, a writer and translator in Gaza, narrates her life during the second week of lockdown.
April 2 West Bank & Israel
Israel released a Palestinian from prison and the following day he tested positive for the new coronavirus. Rights groups say the incident underscores the urgency for Israel to release vulnerable prisoners and stop abuses that expose incarcerated Palestinians to the virus. The Palestinian Prisoners Club, Addameer, Al-Haq, Al Mezan and Defense for Children International Palestine, among others – are also calling on Israel to end its night raids and arbitrary arrests in the occupied West Bank. Confirmed cases in Israel has skyrocketed to more than 6,200, with hundreds diagnosed daily, Israeli prison workers who move freely in and out of prisons are likely the main channel of transmission of the virus into the prisons.
April 2 Gaza Israel
As COVID-19 arrives in Gaza, Israelis launch a campaign raising funds and calling on their government to take responsibility for the crisis in the Strip. A group of Jewish Israelis have launched an independent campaign called “Epidemic in Gaza” to raise awareness and express solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza. Human rights organizations, including Physicians for Human Rights – Israel, B’Tselem, and Gisha have insisted on Israel’s responsibility — both morally and by virtue of international law — for the health of the people of Gaza. The funds raised by this campaign will be used to purchase hand sanitizer and other medical equipment to be transferred to Gaza by Physicians for Human Rights.
April 2 Israel
Coronavirus has forced more top Israeli officials into isolation after the country's health minister, a member of the ultraorthodox community who has had frequent contact with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, tested positive. Netanyahu returned to self quarantine. Israel has gone into near-lockdown to try to contain the outbreak. The country has reported more than 6,200 confirmed cases and 31 people have died from COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.
Middle East Eye
In Israel, there have been only 54 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among Arabs, excluding East Jerusalem and mixed Arab and Jewish cities. Public health experts in the Arab community warn that those numbers do not reflect the real rate of morbidity, but rather the lack of testing. Israel is ramping up testing and community groups are working on education campaigns and quarantine centers. Fear of being stigmatized is a serious concern in the Arab community and one that is deterring people from being tested.
April 3 West Bank, Gaza, Israel
Israel's blockade has kept the worst of the coronavirus out of Gaza. It might keep aid out too as doctors prepare for a large-scale outbreak of the highly infectious virus in one of the world’s most densely populated and impoverished places. No amount of preparation will be sufficient. The “critical shortage of test kits, ventilators, drugs, and medical consumables,” heap pressure on Gaza’s densely packed population, with those in refugee camps (run by UNRWA), especially at risk from COVID-19. As of April 3, Gaza had recorded only 12 COVID-19 infections: far fewer than Israel, which has in excess of 6,800 cases, or the 750-plus cases in neighboring Egypt. Gaza has only around 120 ICU beds and most are already occupied by non-COVID-19 patients. The U.S. Congress last year allocated $75 million in humanitarian assistance for Palestinians in 2020, the White House has not allowed that aid to be delivered. A group of Democratic senators asked Pompeo to reverse that decision.
193 Palestinians so far have tested positive for the coronavirus; 12 live in Gaza and 181 live in the West Bank, 1 Palestinian has died from COVID-10 related causes. 8,600 Palestinians have been tested for the coronavirus. 7,428 Israelis have tested positive for the coronavirus. 40 Israelis have died from COVID-19 related causes. Palestinian leaders say they had contained the virus early on and attribute the newest cases to Palestinians day laborers working in Israel. They blame Israel for inadequate testing and returning Palestinians who became ill while Israel to the West Bank. Israel is taking more aggressive measures to prevent the movement of people as confirmed cases of the coronavirus continue to soar and Israelis are asked to wear face masks.
April 3 Israel
Israel has confirmed at least 36 deaths linked to the coronavirus and more than 7,000 infections - but medical experts estimate that as many as 75,000 people or 38 percent of Bnei Brak's 200,000 residents are infected. Some have heeded rabbis who, out of distrust for the state, spurned anti-virus measures.
Israel is expected to ramp up its efforts to test for the coronavirus inside its Palestinian communities, after widespread outcry from rights groups condemning the government for ignoring the country’s Arab population amid the global pandemic. The efforts came more than one month after the novel coronavirus began spreading rapidly in Israel where there are currently more than 7,000 confirmed cases and 37 deaths. Palestinian doctors and activists in Israel began reporting a widespread imbalance between the number of cases being reported in Jewish versus Palestinian communities in Israel and the access to testing in the respective communities. The disparity is particularly obvious in Jerusalem and in Bedouin communities in the Naqab.
April 5 West Bank
With 205 respirators for 2.5 million people, the Palestinian Authority fears collapse amid coronavirus outbreak. In an ironic twist, Palestinians have wired the West Bank with roadblocks in a desperate bid to keep the pandemic from spreading beyond 106 current cases. Only 5,562 people have been tested due to a shortage of diagnostic kits. Most of the patients diagnosed in recent days are workers returning from jobs in Israel or in settlements.
April 5 Gaza, West Bank, Israel
7,851 Israelis have so far tested positive for the coronavirus, 108 are on life support. Hot spots have been found in a number of Ultraorthodox communities. In the West Bank, 205 cases have been diagnosed so far. One woman in her 60s has died. In Gaza, 12 cases have been diagnosed.
8,018 Israelis have so far tested positive for the coronavirus; 48 people have died. In the West Bank, 216 cases have been diagnosed so far. One woman in her 60s has died. In Gaza, 12 cases have been diagnosed, six of which have already recovered. Ultra-Orthodox communities continue to be hot spots and Arab communities worry about the impact of Ramadan.
April 5 Israel
A mass ultra-Orthodox funeral with an estimated 300 people was held in Israel despite the coronavirus pandemic. Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan called the event in Bnei Brak 'life-threatening.' COVID-19 is quickly spreading in ultra-Orthodox communities, but police feared enforcement would lead to clashes.
Haredi cities show much fewer people in isolation relative to confirmed cases, with lack of technology and unprepared leaders posing challenges. In Jerusalem, the Israeli city with the highest number of coronavirus patients – 573 – 13,000 have entered isolation since the beginning of the crisis. Bnei Brak, an ultra-Orthodox community, has the second-highest number of those infected – 508 – and the fastest pace of infection nationally. However, only 1,800 residents have entered isolation, often in homes with large families.
The government does not want to be portrayed as discriminating against ultra-Orthodox society, but the move must be made to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Decisions regarding quarantine have reflected Netanyahu’s political fortunes. There’s a risk that the ultra-Orthodox public will be harmed twice – once by the rabbis’ apathy, and secondly by their politicians. Netanyahu has promised an 80 billion shekel ($22.3 billion) economic aid program. The coronavirus crisis will require focused assistance for two economically weak populations, the Haredim and the “Arabs”, who together make up more than a third of the population. Defense Minister Naftali Bennet also announced the “corona grade,” which would be given to every citizen on a daily basis, based on the monitoring of their movements, to calculate the likelihood of their exposure.
The Israeli Defense Ministry is considering partnering with the controversial spyware firm NSO as part of the country’s response to COVID-19. Authorities are looking into tasking the firm with aggregating all information available to grade likelihood of any resident to have been exposed to the coronavirus. NSO has been sued by Facebook for allegedly hacking its WhatsApp messaging service.
In Israel, homeless shelters are closed, restaurants no longer offer leftovers and a surging numbers of street dwellers are relying on overextended nonprofits and city officials. Across Israel shelters are closed, restaurants no longer offer leftovers and surging numbers of addicts rely on overextended nonprofits. The unhoused which includes asylum seekers and migrant workers, have no protection or ability to isolate from the coronavirus.
30,000 asylum seekers from Eritrea and Sudan live in the country, most of whom have lost their jobs because of the virus crisis and are not eligible for unemployment or other benefits, have no national health insurance, only private health insurance that is dependent on their being employed. Israeli government officials have developed a plan to “encourage” asylum seekers to leave the country amid the coronavirus crisis, allowing them to withdraw 2,700 shekels ($745) a month from funds the state is holding back as a deposit that they would normally receive when they leave the country. The World Health Organization, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the International Organization for Migration and the UN Refugee Agency issued a statement calling on nations to protect the rights and health of refugees and migrants in light of the coronavirus crisis.
March 22-28, 2020
March 22 Gaza, West Bank, and Israel
First two CV viruses reported in Gaza. Both patients were transferred to a field hospital in Gaza’s southernmost city, Rafah, where preparations for potential coronavirus cases have been made. All those who came into contact with the patients have been placed in compulsory quarantine. West Bank cases are 57 and approximately 1,000 in Israel.
March 22 Israel
Will years of neglect lead to the collapse of Israel's healthcare system, which was, for years, among the best in the world? How will Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s anti-democratic measures impact on an already illiberal democracy? Cooperation between Israel and the Palestinians is at its tightest ever been. How will that play out?
March 22 Occupied Territories
On World Water Day, March 22, Al-Haq drew continued attention to the deadly consequences of the apartheid water restrictions in the occupied Palestinian territories during the pandemic.
March 22 Gaza
Fears rise as 2 cases diagnosed in Gaza. UN Special Rapporteur for the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory, said he was “particularly worried” about COVID-19 reaching Gaza, where the healthcare system “was collapsing even before the pandemic.” “Its stocks of essential drugs are chronically low,”…Its natural sources of drinkable water are largely contaminated. Its electrical system provides sporadic power. Deep poverty amid appalling socio-economic conditions is prevalent throughout the Strip.”
Gaza’s healthcare system is not equipped for a COVID-19 breakout. It has a total number of 2,895 hospital beds, or 1.3 beds per thousand people. It has just 50 to 60 ventilators for adults. More than 35,000 Palestinians have left the strip since 2018 alone, among them dozens of doctors and nurses. With an average of 6,028 persons per square kilometer, Gaza has one of the highest population densities in the world. Gaza’s eight refugee camps have even higher population densities. Take Jabalia, where more than 140,000 Palestinian refugees live in an area of 1.4 square kilometers, or about 82,000 persons per square kilometer. Gaza’s problem is not a lack of humanitarian aid, as urgent as it may be. It is territorial, demographic, and political.
March 23 Israel/Palestine and international update
1,238 Israelis have tested positive, with vast majority of cases mild and 37 recoveries. One patient has died and 18 are in serious condition. In the West Bank, 57 cases have been diagnosed so far, and 17 have recovered, the majority of them in Bethlehem. The Palestinian prime minister ordered a lockdown. In Gaza, two cases were diagnosed in patients who returned from Pakistan.
March 23 Occupied territories
The Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council appealed to the diplomatic community in Palestine and the International Committee of the Red Cross to ensure the health and safety of Palestinian prisoners during the COVID-19 pandemic, with special attention to children, chronically ill, and other vulnerable populations.
March 23 Gaza
Gaza reports first two cases of Covid 19. While the blockade may have cut off Gaza from the pandemic, or at best delayed its entry, it is also blamed for what could be a catastrophic outbreak if the virus spreads and a crushing blow to an already damaged health care system.
Medical and human rights organizations call on Israel to lift its blockade of the Strip to boost supplies of medical equipment and protective gear. The response to the virus is dependent on Israeli control of border crossings. “In light of the ongoing siege, Israel is responsible by virtue of international law to provide the required means to the Health Ministry in Gaza.” Officials said that the Strip has only 70 intensive care hospital beds and that its hospitals are not well-equipped with disinfectant or with masks or protective suits for medical personnel.
While only two well-quarantined cases of Covid-19 have been reported, authorities worry that virus could have devastating impact on blockaded enclave. The ministry has reported a 45 % shortage of medical supplies in Gaza since the start of the Israeli blockade. While the WHO was providing some supplies to doctors in Gaza in anticipation of coronavirus cases, it was not enough to deal with a potential outbreak. "[WHO] offers devices to collect samples, but not to examine it…Israel, on the other hand, supplies Gaza with materials that only suffice to collect 200 samples... The samples are then examined at one of the Health Ministry-affiliated centres at al-Remal Center in west of Gaza." The possibility of Covid-19 entering Gaza has reportedly become a source of concern even for Israeli forces. When will Israel take responsibility?
March 23 Hebron
Owner of a shoe factory in Hebron, Amjad Zaghir, quickly understood the need for face masks in the West bank and immediately began to manufacture masks. Within three weeks, his factory was producing thousands of badly needed masks a day.
March 23 Israel, Palestine
Bypassing the necessary approval from the Knesset, the Israeli government approved the tracking of cellphones by the Shin Bet security service in order to inform people who unwittingly came in contact with confirmed coronavirus patients. 1,238 Israelis have so far tested positive for the coronavirus, with the vast majority of cases mild and 37 recoveries. One patient has died and 18 are in serious condition. In the West Bank, 57 cases have been diagnosed so far, and 17 have recovered, the majority of them in Bethlehem. The Palestinian prime minister ordered a lockdown as of Sunday night. In Gaza, two cases were diagnosed in patients who returned from Pakistan.
March 23 Israel
In a brutal act of inhumanity, the Israeli employer of a Palestinian laborer who was showing signs of illness called upon authorities to dump him on the ground on the West Bank side of the Beit Sira checkpoint. The Covid-19 test of the man later came back negative.
March 24 Gaza
A podcast produced by Electronic Intifada (Gaza Physicians Brace for Impact) is available documenting the lack of basic capacity for stemming COVID-19 in the occupied territories. Two cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed so far in GAZA, and Palestinians in the West Bank are on lockdown. The occupation has created a perfect storm for the pandemic, decimating health services and preventing access to supplies.
Palestinian Center for Human Rights warns that Gaza’s healthcare system would collapse in case of Coronavirus outbreak. Ministry of Health announced its urgent need for respirators, intensive care units and equipment, medicines, medical consumables and protective gear to prepare it to combat Coronavirus. MOH’s appeal came after the Israeli authorities allowed the entry of limited quantities of medical supplies into the Gaza Strip on 18 March, including 200 tests for diagnosing Coronavirus, hundreds of protective gowns and goggles for the protection of medical personnel, upon a request Submitted by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Gazan teachers are using radio and social media to teach students remotely.
Coronavirus in Gaza: Just 40 ICU beds for two million people under siege.[Opinion piece by David Hearst] Israel should be told to lift the siege on Gaza or suffer the consequences of sanctions and isolation itself.
Middle East Eye
March 24 Israel
As the number of infections and deaths from COVID-19 multiply by the day, there have been increasing calls across the world for people to show solidarity and care for each other. Yet for the Israeli government, there is no such thing as solidarity.
March 24 Middle East and North Africa
Several countries in the MENA region have overstretched health systems and infrastructures, some of which have also been considerably weakened by years of armed conflict. In these countries, prisons and detention facilities are often overcrowded, unsanitary, and suffer from a lack of resources; accordingly, detainees are routinely denied proper access to medical care. These challenges are only further exacerbated during a health emergency, subjecting detainees and prisoners to heightened risk and placing weak prison health infrastructures under immense stress. Moreover, individuals in detention regularly interact with prison wardens, police officers, and health professionals who engage with the general population. Failure to protect prisoners and prison staff from COVID-19 may have negative implications for the population more broadly.
Under international human rights law, every individual has the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. States have an obligation to guarantee realization of this right.
March 25 West Bank
The Palestinians reported their first death from the coronavirus, a woman in her 60s from Bidu, a Palestinian village north of Jerusalem and southwest of Ramallah, Melhem added. There are 62 confirmed coronavirus cases among Palestinians in the West Bank, and two in the Gaza Strip.
March 26 Gaza
The besieged Gaza Strip recorded seven new coronavirus cases, while 15 new cases were confirmed in the occupied West Bank, health officials said. Gaza's health ministry said the new infections are of people who contracted the virus after being in contact with the first two Covid-19 cases registered in the strip.
March 26 West Bank
Ever since the announcement of the Palestinian Ministry of Health on March 6 that a Bethlehem resident had become the first person in the West Bank to be identified as carrying the novel coronavirus, there have been massive ripple effects. And they have particularly impacted the estimated 127,000 Palestinians who travel from the West Bank into Israel to work. 2,693 Israelis and 84 Palestinians have been diagnosed.
March 26 Occupied territories and Iran
This virus knows no boundaries and the people in charge need to listen to and share scientific data, take advice from other countries, mobilize industries to produce the products we need, and plan on an international scale how to limit the viral spread and distribute needed resources.
Basic to that is lifting the sanctions on Iran and the siege of Gaza in the name humanity and decency. This is not a war; it is a medical and public health emergency on a global scale.
March 27 Occupied territories
[Opinion piece by Fareed Taamallah] Palestinians are trapped between the pandemic and Israel’s brutal military occupation.
Middle East Eye
The COVID-19 Response Plan for the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) presents the joint strategy of the humanitarian community, including UNRWA, to respond to the public health needs and immediate humanitarian consequences of the pandemic in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. The primary focus of the plan continues to be prevention, preparedness and treatment of the the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Central to the plan are the following overall objectives: To prevent further transmission of COVID-19 in the oPt; To provide adequate care for patients affected by COVID-19 and to support their families and close contacts; and To mitigate the worst effects of the pandemic.
March 27 West Bank
Israeli settlers are exploiting a lockdown, imposed in the occupied West Bank to slow down the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, to annex Palestinian land and launch attacks against Palestinian civilians and their homes. Over the past week, there have been at least three incidents of residents of illegal Israeli settlements razing Palestinian lands and paving roads in the districts of Nablus, Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Because of the settlers and the occupation, Palestinians cannot follow the guidelines set by the World Health Organisation or by their own government.“If we stay inside our homes, then we protect ourselves from the virus, but then we end up losing our land.
March 27 Occupied territories and international
As coronavirus cases steadily increase in the Palestinian territories, activists and civil rights organisations will be holding an online rally on Monday 3/30 to highlight the threat posed to the two million Palestinians stuck in the strip. The BDS National Committee, Jewish Voice for Peace and three others said they would be holding an online rally and Twitterstorm, because street protests could be a potential breeding ground for the virus.
Middle East Eye
The constantly updated world map and dashboard published by Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering has become a vital resource for everyone to track the COVID-19 pandemic. However, health and human rights experts are faulting it for erasing Palestinians, then acknowledging occupation, then changing the language to West Bank and Gaza.
By 3/27, cases in the West Bank had risen to 60, whereas two cases had been recorded in the Gaza Strip, and Israel had confirmed 2170 cases. Initially data recorded by the Palestinian Health Ministry in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip was listed under its entry for Palestine, then this was changed to oPt, then subsumed under Israel. This is against international law and credible public health reporting.
March 28 West Bank
Israeli military confiscates Palestinian field clinic for virus victims. Officials from Israel’s Civil Administration in the West Bank arrived with a military jeep escort, a bulldozer and two flatbed trucks with cranes at the Palestinian community of Khirbet Ibziq in the northern Jordan Valley. They confiscated poles and sheeting that were meant to form eight tents, two for a field clinic, and four for emergency housing for residents evacuated from their homes, and two as makeshift mosques. The force also confiscated a tin shack in place for more than two years, as well as a power generator and sacks of sand and cement. Four pallets of cinder blocks intended for the tent floors were taken away and four others demolished.
March 16 West Bank & Israel
The West Bank reports 39 cases and Israel 255. Palestinian officials took wide-ranging steps declaring a month-long state of emergency including closing schools and religious sites, and sharp restrictions on tourism. In the city of Bethlehem, the epicenter of the outbreak in the West Bank, Palestinian and Israeli officials began a lockdown on March 5, preventing entry and exit. Refugee camps are disinfecting.
Israel has 277 cases of CV. With 39 confirmed cases in Palestine , the Palestinian Authority is struggling to cope with the pandemic with its limited resources and weak healthcare system. 37 of the victims were infected after a 51-member Greek religious tourist group, one from an Israeli businessman, and one from a medical school in Poland. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, exposed the Palestinian government's vulnerabilities caused by the conflict with Israel, which retains strict military control over the Palestinian territories. While Palestinian Authority and Israel have a high level of coordination at the moment in order to contain the coronavirus, Israel is still refusing to release funds it deducts from taxing Palestinians. The money is desperately needed to increase the authority's ability to combat the disease. About 400,000 Palestinian workers from the West Bank travel to Israel daily and pose a serious risk of carrying an infection back from Israel.
March 17 Gaza
Hamas and the civil authorities in Gaza have already taken precautions, including closing the Erez crossing to Israel to entry and exit. Palestinians who have entered the Strip since the outbreak of the virus in Israel have been placed in isolation in temporary housing in the area of the crossings. Over the past few days the Gaza Health Ministry has begun putting up a field hospital at the Rafah crossing. 63 Gazans are now in quarantine in these buildings, and according to the Gaza Health Ministry 2,667 people are in home isolation. All schools and universities are to remain closed until the end of March, and gatherings of more than 100 people are prohibited. The authorities have recommended that older people avoid crowds in enclosed spaces, including mosques.
March 18 Israel
To track coronavirus, Israel moves to tap secret trove of cellphone data. The information, intended for use in counterterrorism, would help identify people who have crossed paths with known patients. Disclosure of the plan raised alarms among privacy advocates and among critics of Mr. Netanyahu. He also authorized prison sentences of up to six months for anyone breaching isolation orders; barring visitors, including lawyers, from prison and detention facilities and allowing the police to break up gatherings — as of now, more than 10 people — by means including “the use of reasonable force.”
New York Times
March 19 Occupied territories
Defense for Children International – Palestine demands the release of all Palestinian child detainees to protect them from the spread of COVID-19.
March 20 Gaza
The interruption of life, career, work, and studies, putting them into a temporary halt is the reality of the daily lives of Palestinians in Gaza since 2006. However, outside the Gaza strip, there is always a government and institutions that could make life easier, provide services, health care, and economic support, while in Gaza, that is a daydream. In reality, the only event that the people in Gaza talk about is when the next war is, and not when the lockdown will be lifted.
March 20 West Bank
Union of Agricultural Work Committees team started a campaign to support remote communities in the West Bank, by holding individual sessions to educate farmers about prevention measures to be followed in their farms and households. Various educational leaflets and sterile materials were distributed.
March 20 Lebanon
Palestinian refugees, who have been living in Lebanon for decades yet remain without rights, are not clear about what actions are being taken to protect and support their communities. In a recent interview, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) stated that an emergency room has been set up for Palestinians. It hasn’t, however, shared any information about an actual response plan beyond “awareness” campaigns. Awareness can be helpful but not necessarily effective to people who have no access to healthcare, or the right to access healthcare. Moreover, the Lebanese Red Cross recently refused to transfer a patient from a refugee camp to the Rafik Hariri University Hospital, causing more anxiety amid camps residents.
March 20 US, Israel, and Palestine
Webinar done by JVP Health Advisory Council members summarizes the issues in the US, a report from the frontlines of hospital care, and an overview of status in I/P. Cases reported by 3/19: Israel 677, West Bank 47 and Gaza 0.
March 20 Israel & US
The crisis has enabled militarization that brushes aside the usual relationship between guardians and civil liberties. In Israel, the clearest form of this can be seen in the militarization of the medical situation and its relationship to the digital and algorithmic surveillance systems. We are seeing new uses of the infrastructure of smart cities—the license plate readers, the monitoring of traffic. This, of course, allows the government to control and monitor the flow of traffic in and out of areas of the West Bank, and is now being used to contain the virus in areas of the assumed outbreak within Palestinian cities. That relationship between surveillance and bordering is just one of the ways in which the crisis has been militarized.
March 21 Israel
Israel reported 883 confirmed coronavirus cases, with the vast majority of them mild, and its first fatality in an 88 year old Holocaust survivor.
March 21 Israel & Palestine
The coronavirus has imposed an unofficial cease-fire on the Gaza Strip. Israel has a supreme interest in ensuring that the disease doesn’t hit Gaza, whose isolation from the world seems to be protecting it for now. At the same time, an agreement has been forged in relative silence between Israel and the PA over the entry of workers from the West Bank into Israel. About 70,000 workers from the West Bank employed in construction, agriculture and key factories have entered Israel for two months and will be lodged at their workplaces under the responsibility of their employers. Another 10,000 Palestinians will come to work in the settlements. It is assumed that thousands more will work illegally in Arab towns inside Israel. Gazans will no longer be allowed into Israel. Netanyahu flails and the military moves forward.
March 8-14, 2020
March 9 West Bank
15 American tourists and fellow Palestinians were unexpectedly quarantined in the Angel Hotel, Bethlehem. Local Palestinian restaurants and residents flooded the hotel with medical supplies, personal hygiene products, and most importantly, food, an act of solidarity and generosity.
Middle East Eye
March 9 West Bank & Israel
West Bank cases 25, Israel 42. The spread of the coronavirus to Gaza would be catastrophic and “many will die,” an official with Gaza’s health ministry said. Nearly half of essential medicines in Gaza, which has been under a severe Israeli blockade since 2007, are stocked at less than a one-month supply or are completely depleted. “Gaza is one of the most densely populated places on earth, our health system is on its knees already. If we have just one case it will be transmitted rapidly. Gaza’s health ministry has encouraged travelers returning from Egypt and Israel to self-isolate, “but we cannot enforce it.” The head of the WHO office in Gaza said that there are just 50 test kits for the coronavirus in the territory and enough protective gear for 100 medical professionals to treat patients who test positive. A large number of cases would contribute to the “collapse” of Gaza’s health system, the official warned.
March 10 West Bank
250 Jewish settlers held a Purim parade in Hebron’s city center as Palestinians were placed under lockdown. “Although we’ve had tourists from all kinds of places, the coronavirus did not make it to Hebron,” said Baruch Marzel, a prominent extreme-right activist and resident of the city who wore a “Make Hebron Great Again” hat to the parade. “Hebron is a strong and holy city for the Jews where our ancestors protect us, while in Bethlehem, which is holy to Christianity, corona is having a field day,” Marzel added.
With 29 cases in Palestine, government steps up efforts to contain coronavirus. 2,900 Palestinians were being held in self-quarantine — six of them in Jerusalem, and 605 people in Gaza who had recently returned from performing the Umrah pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia. In Bethlehem, schools, universities, banks, and government offices have remained closed, as well as hotels, restaurants, and dozens of souvenir shops across the city and these efforts are spreading across the West Bank.
March 10 Israel
Another sign that political considerations had begun to play a role in the restrictions was the fact that the large number of Israelis returning from the AIPAC convention in Washington D.C. were not being required to self-quarantine, even after the finding that three people at the conference – which was attended by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and a long list of senators and congressmen – had been diagnosed with the virus.
Israel is failing to provide essential real-time coronavirus updates and public health information in Arabic for Palestinian citizens of Israel who make up roughly a fifth of the country’s total population. Ongoing coronavirus updates on the Israeli Health Ministry’s website are being issued only in Hebrew; Arabic-language updates are issued only after significant delays, and the ministry’s social media posts and smartphone app are accessible only in Hebrew.
March 10 Israel
Although 20 percent of the total population of Israel is Palestinian, the Israeli Ministry of Health has not been disseminating Arabic-language updates or critical health information in Arabic to its citizens. Adalah, The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, demanded on March 9 that messages be made available in Arabic immediately.
March 11 West Bank
Israel responded to the Coronavirus cases in Bethlehem by putting the city in full military closure. Three days later, anyone who had been to Bethlehem, Beit Jala and Beit Sahour was required to self-quarantine for two weeks. Similar instructions for closure and quarantine were not imposed upon Jewish neighborhoods in the Bethlehem area such as Gilo or Har Homa. Visitors to Rachel’s Tomb were also not required to quarantine. Moreover, residents of Ashkelon, Jerusalem, Ariel, and Petah Tikvah — all cities with confirmed COVID-19 cases — have neither been placed under wide-ranging military enclosure, nor under quarantine (except for those currently sick). What is hard to do to Israelis is seemingly easy to do to millions of Palestinians living under the plague of Israeli occupation.
March 11 West Bank and Israel
World Health Organization reports 30 cases in the West Bank, 29 in Bethlehem and one in Tulkarem. Israeli health ministry reports almost 100 cases. The Palestinian Authority declared a state of emergency one week ago and Israel is shutting down air travel and plans extensive closure of Gaza. Palestinian human rights groups have pointed to the discriminatory response to the coronavirus by Israel and the huge risks to Gaza.
March 11 Occupied territories & Israel
COVID-19 erupting in the Hamas-controlled, Israeli-blockaded enclave is seen by the Israeli defense establishment as a 'God-help-us' scenario. The coronavirus outbreak puts Israel in a delicate position regarding the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The epidemic crosses borders and fences, but for now the intensive battle against the virus has contributed to the relative calm on the security front and has even led to close cooperation between the two sides. The big test will come in the next few days, when Israel will have to decide whether to lengthen the full closure that has been imposed on the territories for Purim.
March 11 Gaza
Israel is due to impose an extensive closure on movement of people to and from the Gaza Strip in response to Coronavirus concerns on March 12. Exit from Gaza will be similarly limited to patients seeking urgent medical treatment and their companions, Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, Palestinian West Bank residents seeking to return to the West Bank, “exceptional humanitarian cases,” and foreign nationals.
March 12 West Bank
A week after the Palestinian Authority declared a state of emergency and strict closures following a coronavirus outbreak in Bethlehem, the mood in Nablus has been more sullen. Traffic, business and tourism are down, workers feel the drop in income, and the population is fearful.
March 12 Gaza
Even a small outbreak among Gaza's densely-packed, blockaded population would put an impossible strain on a healthcare system already teetering on the verge of collapse. If you’re locked in a cage, you are protected – but, simultaneously, you are also at much greater risk of being acutely affected. The United Nations has said that the health care in Gaza is at "breaking point." In the case of a coronavirus outbreak in Gaza, the likelihood of exit permits for medical care being rejected is therefore high, particularly if Israel is struggling with its own outbreak.
A writer from We Are Not Numbers talks about living under an involuntary quarantine for over a decade with a decaying health care system. He states that more than ever, people around the world should empathize with the Palestinians in Gaza. European cities are being placed on lockdown, following the footsteps of China, Iran, Korea, and other nations.
March 13 Israel
Palestinian inmates fear for their lives in filthy and crowded Israeli jails. Lack of hygiene products and packed cells leave prisoners fearing continued policy of 'deliberate medical negligence'. Several cases are suspected and prisoners have been placed in quarantine.
March 14 West Bank & Israel
World Health Organization reports 35 cases in the West Bank. Israel (which is listed in the “European region!) reports 100 cases.
World Health Organization
March 1-7, 2020
March 1 Israel
Investment in health, transportation and education had been declining since the 1970s, when critics say Israel began to prioritize tax cuts, welfare for ultra-Orthodox Jews who study in religious institutions rather than work, and expanding settlements in the West Bank. The 1970s looks like a crucial pivot point. The system now suffers from neoliberal policies and long standing neglect (and with hindsight, was ill prepared for the pandemic that was about to hit -AR).
New York Times
March 4 Gaza
Ramzy Baroud wrote a very prescient essay. While the coronavirus entered the West Bank between February 8-15, the worst of fates awaits Gaza, should the deadly and fast-spreading virus find its way through the hermetic siege, which engulfs this minuscule, but densely populated region.
March 8 Israel
Shocking those aware of officials' opinion on coronavirus, Prime Minister Netanyahu pulls back on requiring Israelis returning from US to self-quarantine, and political considerations may have had a role