[News] Palestinians face two enemies: occupation and pandemic

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Mar 27 12:32:51 EDT 2020


https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/tamara-nassar/palestinians-face-two-enemies-occupation-and-pandemic
Palestinians
face two enemies: occupation and pandemic

Tamara Nassar <https://electronicintifada.net/people/tamara-nassar> - 26
March 2020
------------------------------

Despite the global pandemic, it’s business as usual for the Israeli
military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/covid-19>, the respiratory illness
caused by the new coronavirus
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/coronavirus>, has risen to almost
2,700 in Israel, approximately 80 in the occupied West Bank and nine in the
besieged Gaza Strip.

The illness has claimed the lives of eight Israelis so far, and one
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/west-bank-woman-first-palestinian-die-covid-19>
Palestinian woman in the occupied West Bank.

While the coronavirus sickens more people, Palestinians simultaneously face
an older enemy: Israeli military occupation.

Besieged and densely populated Gaza is in particular danger from a
widespread epidemic.

“Israel will not be able to deflect the blame if this nightmare scenario
turns into a reality that it created and made no effort to prevent,” the
Israeli human rights group B’Tselem warned
<https://www.btselem.org/press_releases/20200322_corona_in_gaza> this week.

Physical distancing, staying home and maintaining hygiene are precautions
Palestinians struggle to take as Israel continues to demolish structures,
conduct night raids, arbitrarily arrest children and routinely harass
civilians.
Seizing structures for field clinic

Early Thursday, Israeli forces demolished and seized structures meant for a
field clinic and emergency housing in Ibziq, a village in the northern
Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank.

This was done under the supervision of the Civil Administration, the
bureaucratic arm of Israel’s military occupation.

Israeli forces confiscated tents, a generator and building supplies.

“Shutting down a first-aid community initiative during a health crisis is
an especially cruel example of the regular abuse inflicted on these
communities,” Israeli human rights group B’Tselem
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/btselem> stated
<https://www.btselem.org/press_release/20200326_israel_confiscates_clinic_tents_during_coronavirus_crisis>
.

According <http://english.wafa.ps/page.aspx?id=KirOvEa115532344917aKirOvE>
to village council chief Abdul Majid Khdeirat, this was done on the pretext
that the construction was in a closed military zone.

Israel habitually
<https://electronicintifada.net/content/nowhere-go-nowhere-live/25886>
declares
<https://www.ochaopt.org/content/firing-zones-and-risk-forcible-transfer>
occupied West Bank land to be firing or military zones then later seizes
the land for illegal Israeli settlements.

Israeli forces also demolished the homes of three Palestinian families in
al-Duyuk village near Jericho.

An Israeli military bulldozer destroyed the homes of Muayad Abu Obaida,
Thaer al-Sharif and Yasir Alayan, because they were built without permits
which Israel almost never grants to Palestinians. This leaves them no
choice but to build homes without the occupier’s permission.

All three farmers are residents of Jerusalem.

Pictures and videos of the demolition circulated in local media:
Isolating tens of thousands

Meanwhile, Israel is considering
<https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-israel-considers-cutting-off-parts-of-east-jerusalem-to-stem-coronavirus-1.8699381>
sealing off several neighborhoods of occupied East Jerusalem, isolating
tens of thousands of Palestinians from the rest of the city.

Almost 70 percent of the 100,000 people in Shuafat refugee camp have
Israeli residency cards allowing them to enter Jerusalem.

“In the event of a closure, these residents will be entirely disconnected
from their city upon which they rely for all basic services, and it will
likely lead to widespread panic and unrest,” warns Ir Amim, an Israeli
group working towards equality in Jerusalem.

“Such a measure would be one step further in realizing longstanding Israeli
plans to redraw Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries to formally disconnect
these neighborhoods from Jerusalem.”

Israel would be using coronavirus as a pretext to cut off those
neighborhoods from the rest of Jerusalem, despite the number of confirmed
cases being dramatically lower in those neighborhoods compared to Israel.
“Most vulnerable people in the world”

Humans rights groups are warning
<https://www.btselem.org/press_releases/20200322_corona_in_gaza> of an
impending massive disaster in case of a widespread COVID-19 outbreak in
Gaza.

Often referred to as the world’s largest open-air prison, the coastal
enclave has been under a tight Israeli siege since 2007. Israel controls
Gaza’s airspace and sea, and Israel along with Egypt controls its land
boundaries.

Gaza is still reeling from three major Israeli military offensives since
2008.

“Gazans [are] amongst the most vulnerable people in the world to the global
COVID-19 pandemic,” the Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq stated
<http://www.alhaq.org/advocacy/16625.html>.

The water and sanitation crisis caused by Israel’s prolonged blockade of
Gaza undermines “the ability of Palestinians to adequately prevent and
mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak,” al-Haq added.

Less than four percent of water in the territory is fit for human
consumption.

Modern healthcare systems in countries like Italy and Spain are collapsing
under the pressure of the pandemic.

An outbreak of the new coronavirus in Gaza, where the health infrastructure
is already on the brink of collapse, would throw it into “a humanitarian
disaster – created entirely by Israel,” B’Tselem stated
<https://www.btselem.org/press_releases/20200322_corona_in_gaza>.

Israel habitually delays or denies
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/54-patients-died-waiting-israel-let-them-out-gaza>
permits for many Palestinians to receive treatment outside Gaza, granting
permission to only a fraction who need medical care.

“Now, even this faint possibility will not exist,” B’Tselem said.

Dr. Mona El-Farra <https://electronicintifada.net/tags/dr-mona-el-farra>,
the health chair of the Palestine Red Crescent Society in Gaza, told
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/nora-barrows-friedman/understaffed-and-under-equipped-gaza>
The Electronic Intifada that there’s a shortage of beds, protective
equipment and testing kits.

“We don’t have enough kits, we have up to this minute just around 200 kits
for diagnosis. At the moment we have 2,500 people in quarantine. They all
need to be tested.”

Qatar pledged
<https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-qatar/qatar-announces-150-million-aid-to-gaza-to-support-un-programs-efforts-to-contain-coronavirus-idUSKBN21A0TP>
$150 million over the next six months to aid United Nations efforts against
the coronavirus in Gaza.

While this aid may help in the near term, it also relieves Israel of its
responsibility as the occupying power.
No access to emergency services

Adalah, a group that advocates for the rights of Palestinians in Israel,
says <https://www.adalah.org/en/content/view/9928> Palestinian Bedouins in
the southern Naqab region have no access to emergency medical services.

Israel’s health ministry bars those with fever and respiratory symptoms
from leaving their homes. If their health deteriorates, MDA, the national
ambulance service, may recommend an in-home examination or evacuation to
the hospital.

Those villages have no access to the MDA, however.

The group sent a letter to Israeli authorities on Sunday demanding they
provide those services to 70,000 Palestinian citizens of Israel living in
unrecognized villages.

“Israel has for years maintained a policy of neglect and discrimination
when it came to providing routine health services – as well as emergency
medical services – to Bedouin citizens of Israel,” Adalah said.

“In light of the coronavirus crisis, this state policy has now resulted in
an immediate danger to local residents and the general public alike.”
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