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News & Commentary
TIMELINE FOR COVID-19 IN ISRAEL/PALESTINE
from Jewish Voice for Peace: https://www.jvphealth.org/covid-19
An Appeal from UMKR
UMKR has important church legislation for our denomination's global General Conference, to be held in 2021. These resolutions address:
• protecting Palestinian children,
• defending the right to boycott,
•divesting from the bonds of occupation governments, and other timely justice issues.
We also have BIG PLANS for educating
A LOT of people throughout our church about Palestinian rights, with literature, displays, speakers, meals, and witness actions!
With very limited resources, UMKR has made a BIG impact in the global United Methodist Church! Groundbreaking divestment and boycott actions by the UMC would never have happened without UMKR's advocacy AND all the extraordinary partners and allies who helped us.
General Conference is always our BEST OPPORTUNITY to make a worldwide impactfor Palestinian rights throughout our denomination.
But, if we are to succeed in advocating for justice with thousands of United Methodists who come to General Conference from four continents, WE NEED YOUR HELP!
Click the green button and take action now:
Please give as generously as you can, and
know that whatever you are able to give
will be greatly appreciated.
US Congress members urge Trump to restore aid to Palestinians
Middle East Monitor • 30 April 2020
Members of Congress have urged the Trump administration to restore aid to Palestinians as they tackle the spread of the coronavirus in the occupied territories, reported Wafa news agency. In a letter addressed to Kelly Craft, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, 59 members of Congress called for urgent assistance to help fight the disease in Gaza, the occupied West Bank and neighbouring Arab countries that host Palestinian refugees. ‘As Covid-19 pandemic numbers continue to rise, we write to seek your assistance in the effort to restart US humanitarian assistance to Palestinians, including UNRWA,’ Tuesday’s letter stated.
Download the letter
Is Hamas using coronavirus to gain support in West Bank?
Jersualem Post • 30 April 2020
The Palestinian Authority believes Hamas is using the coronavirus crisis to score points with Palestinians in the West Bank. In the past week, PA security forces arrested a number of Hamas activists after they were caught distributing food parcels and cash to needy families.
It’s not over, and uncertainty abounds, but Israel’s COVID-19 stats are stunning
The Times of Israel • 30 April 2020
But all those numbers above underline that, turning 72 in these nightmare circumstances, Israel has at least wary cause for encouragement. They were not always perfectly executed, but the decisions Israel’s leaders and authorities made, and that its citizens overwhelmingly heeded, were designed to maximize the defense against a mysterious virus that disproportionately targeted the elderly — our parents, our pioneers. For now, the numbers and the comparisons suggest, that strategy has been remarkably effective.
Coronavirus: Amid lockdown, Israel delivers demolition orders to
Middle East Eye • 30 April 2020
When Ibrahim Issa and his neighbors saw an Israeli military vehicle driving through Qarawat Bani Hassan on Tuesday, they suspected it was just another ordinary patrol through the Palestinian village, which is surrounded by a number of illegal Israeli settlements. ‘But then we saw the car stopping at houses and posting things on doors, and we knew something was wrong,’ Issa told Middle East Eye. In a matter of hours, authorities from Israel’s Civil Administration, the military body that enforces Israeli policy in the occupied West Bank, had posted 22 demolition and stop-work orders on Palestinian properties in the village.
Palestinian PM's COVID-19 response gets high marks, but will it be enough?
Al-Monitor • 29 April 2020
Less than a year after being tapped for prime minister, the head of the Palestinian government, Mohammad Shtayyeh, who was sworn into office on April 13, 2019, was confronted along with the rest of the globe with an unprecedented crisis. Early evaluation gives Shtayyeh and his team high marks for their performance. The praise has been so overwhelming that it has led some to predict that he can potentially fill the shoes of President Mahmoud Abbas once the current 84-year-old Palestinian leader moves out of the political stage. Palestinian pollster Khalil Shikaki told Al-Monitor that the Palestinian government and its head have gained in popularity, but added, ‘This doesn’t mean, however, that his ability to compete for the presidency has necessarily improved.’ Shikaki, the director of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, notes that the Palestinian public differentiates between managing daily issues and political leadership. He said, “In terms of political leadership, Prime Minister Shtayyeh has yet to be tested; therefore, it is too early to determine if his performance in dealing with the effects of the pandemic can be translated to better chances for the presidency.’
For first time, Israelis recovered from coronavirus outnumber those still sick
The Times of Israel • 29 April 2020
There have been a total of 15,782 confirmed carriers of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, of whom 7,929 have recovered. Of the 7,641 still sick, 120 have serious symptoms, 91 of them on ventilators, and 85 are in moderate condition.
High Court gives media protection from Shin Bet corona surveillance
Jerusalem Post • 29 April 2020
Israel’s press association had petitioned that if the Shin Bet was given unlimited access to hack members of the media’s cellphones, they would compromise sources and undermine the most basic tenet of freedom of the press. While the High Court did not issue a blanket prohibition protecting the media, it did say that members of the media can refuse to grant the Health Ministry access to their cellphone and appeal to the courts within 24 hours regarding any dispute.
200,000 tune in for joint Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day ceremony
YNet • 28 April 2020
Bereaved Israeli and Palestinian families made an impassioned call for reconciliation and peace on Monday evening during a joint virtual Memorial Day ceremony viewed by nearly 200,000 people. The Israeli-Palestinian Joint Memorial Day Ceremony was held without an in-person audience for the first time since its inception in 2006 due to the coronavirus, and instead was live-streamed from studios in Tel Aviv and Ramallah.
Watch the event here
West Bank, Gaza Eye Return to Normal After Two Days Without New
Haaretz • 28 April 2020
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 territory that it governs there or in the Gaza Strip, which is under the control of Hamas. The Palestinian Authority is also considering how to address the economic crisis that the coronavirus outbreak has caused…Palestinian Authority government offices, including the land authority and water authority, are due to gradually return to work at the beginning of next week, and factories and workshops will be allowed to operate at 50 percent of normal levels, the prime minister said. Schools are not yet resuming classes, but food and candy stores are allowed to remain open until the evening during the current holy month of Ramadan, when observant Muslims fast during daylight hours. Restaurants and cafes, which are usually packed in the evening during Ramadan fast, are still closed, as are mosques and other houses of worship.
High Court Petition Demands Health Insurance for Palestinian Laborers in Israel
Haaretz • 28 April 2020
The petition seeks to address the situation of large numbers of Palestinians who have been staying in Israel for more than a month rather than commuting to and from Israel for the day from their homes in the West Bank. They have been required to remain in Israel if they are to continue on the job out of concern that daily commutes could result in the spread of the coronavirus in Israel and in the West Bank. The petition is also seeking an order requiring that Israeli employers in the construction field stop the practice of holding onto their Palestinian employees’ identity cards, a procedure that had been ordered by the Israeli Construction and Housing Ministry. Palestinian laborers working in Israel are entitled to worker’s compensation coverage for accidents on the job, but not regular medical coverage. The three petitioners in the case, Kav LaOved, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and Physicians for Human Rights, stated in their petition that a legislative memorandum has been drafted for a proposed amendment to the law and that would require that the Palestinians receive medical coverage during the coronavirus pandemic, but the matter has not moved ahead.
Arab Israelis partner with police, IDF to avert Ramadan coronavirus surge
The Times of Israel • 28 April 2020
The ban on mass communal prayer in Israel and the Palestinian territories is among the sobering restrictions accompanying Islam’s holiest month, during which Muslims fast during daylight hours and typically pray, feast and socialize with extended family at night. Israel’s emergency coronavirus measures have closed mosques, shuttered shops and implemented nighttime curfews in many Muslim-majority cities.
But many of Israel’s 1.5 million Arab citizens say it’s nowhere near enough. Ahead of the monthlong holiday, a period during which families often celebrate together in the dozens or hundreds, most Arab Israeli towns and villages fear a coronavirus peak is still ahead — and some are making an unprecedented plea for more government intervention.
Corona Death Toll Climbs to 208, Cases to 15,589
Ynet News • 28 April 2020
Coronavirus has claimed 208 lives in Israel so far and 117 people are currently seriously ill with COVID-19, the Health Ministry said Tuesday morning. There are 15,589 confirmed cases of the virus in Israel and 94 patients are presently on a ventilator. In all, at least 7,375 people have recovered from the disease in Israel. A total of 354 people are currently being treated in hospitals for COVID-19, 5,025 are being treated at home and 1,726 are in specially designated hotels. Another 901 people are waiting to be informed whether they require hospitalization. Although the number of coronavirus patients continues to rise, it seems the rate of infections is decreasing steadily - prompting the Health Ministry to mull the closure of specialized coronavirus wards across the country.
Parking lot prayers: Muslims in Jaffa and Jerusalem improvise for Ramadan
Reuters • 28 April 2020
Muslims typically pack into Jaffas Ottoman-era shrines for evening worship during the month-long fasting holiday before pouring out into the old city and taking walks along the Mediterranean promenade. But with mosques off-limits this year due to the pandemic, worshippers are improvising - gathering in large open spaces and praying outside Jerusalems Al-Aqsa mosque compound, Islams third-holiest site.
COVID-19 spells disaster for Palestinians in Lebanon
Electronic Intifada • 27 April 2020
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. After the patient was transferred to the Rafik Hariri University Hospital in Beirut for treatment, Bachir Khodr, head of the Baalbek-Hermel Governorate, announced that the camp would be closed and monitored by Lebanese state security forces. Although the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Lebanon had surpassed 700 on 27 April, and a nationwide lockdown was instituted in March, no similar security closures have been imposed elsewhere.
Palestinians are facing coronavirus inside a lions den
Mariam Barghouti • 972 Magazine • 27 April 2020
Palestine Legal recently published a report noting that the majority of suppression of Palestine advocacy in the US targets students and faculty. In particular, 89% of such incidents occurred on college campuses in 2014, and 74% in 2019. While these statistics illuminate the current struggle that university-based advocates for Palestinian rights are facing, it is also critical to trace the development of Palestine advocacy on US college campuses. Tracking this 20- to 30-year history allows a better understanding of not only how we got here, but also of the current and intensifying campaign against students and faculty and how to fight it.freezes Palestinian Authority tax
Israel Evicts Palestinian Family Amid Coronavirus Crisis, Despite Assurances
Haaretz • 27 April 2020
Israeli authorities seized a mobile home near Jericho in the West Bank on April 23, leaving a family of seven homeless. The move violates Israel’s commitment made in early April to stop confiscating or demolishing structures deemed illegal until the end of the coronavirus crisis.
Palestinians claim COVID-19 efforts blunted by Israel in East Jerusalem
Al-Monitor • 27 April 2020
Some 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.
Regime change in the shadow of the coronavirus
Times of Israel • 27 April 2020
The political changes being perpetrated under the guise of the COVID-19 disaster chip away at Israel’s democracy while so many are too worn out to pay full attention.
Independence Day this year is perhaps the most bewildering and confining in Israel’s 72-year-old history. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected not only the physical health of its citizens, but also the country’s social, economic, and political robustness. It now shows signs of penetrating the basic premise of freedom that informed the creation of the state and has sustained it during its brief history.
Israel arrests more Palestinians in occupied West Bank and Jerusalem
Middle East Monitor • 27 April 2020
Israeli occupation forces made a number of dawn arrests on Sunday, with Palestinians detained across the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem, Arabi21.com has reported. Others who performed night prayers near Al-Aqsa Mosque were fined NIS500 ($142) on the spot. According to local Palestinian sources, the Israeli occupation forces raided Al-Tur neighbourhood in occupied Jerusalem and arrested Omar Abu Ghannam after breaking into the youth’s house. In Al-Issawiyeh neighbourhood, the Israelis raided several Palestinian homes and arrested another youth, Ahmed Kayid Mahmoud.The same sources added that the occupation forces also raided Obeid neighbourhood in the occupied holy city and fired tear gas at local residents.”
Coronavirus gives Israel the perfect cover to tighten its grip over Palestinians
+972 Magazine • 26 April 2020
What initially began as disregard by the Israeli government to the fate of Palestinians during the pandemic, quickly turned into an active attempt to utilize the chaos of the health crisis to maximize Israel’s gains at the expense of Palestinians. The government’s latest push for annexation is a continuation — and escalation — of this trend…Israel’s attempts to benefit from the coronavirus crisis at the Palestinians’ expense is no surprise to many observers. Still, the trajectory of its actions over the course of the outbreak suggests that its policies could seriously escalate in the coming months.
Hamas quietly allows Gaza doctors to get COVID-19 training in Israel
Al-Monitor • 26 April 2020
Fathi Abu Warda, an adviser to the Ramallah Health Ministry, told Al-Monitor the ministry coordinated a meeting for 10 doctors from Gaza and 10 from Jericho with Israeli doctors to address COVID-19 and the medical measures needed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. He said that the training took place March 23 on the Israeli side of the Erez crossing, noting, ‘The doctors were chosen according to their specialties, which included preventive medicine, epidemiology and intensive care.’ However, Abu Warda said he found it odd that another group of doctors and nurses from the Hamas-run Gaza government had later received training inside Israel without coordination with the Health Ministry in Ramallah.
Coronavirus reveals Palestinian economic dependence on Israel
Al-Monitor • 24 April 2020
Naser Abdel Karim, an economics professor at the Arab American University of Jenin, told Al-Monitor, ‘The coronavirus crisis has increased the Palestinian economic dependence on Israel, especially after the Palestinians complained about the fact that their workers have stopped going to Israel amid a decline in foreign trade movement due to the Israeli control of the crossings. This has put their ability to provide goods and food at risk. The PA — unable to provide economic alternatives to its citizens — has concerns over the eruption of a popular Palestinian revolt against the economic closure and the emergence of an anarchic and disorganized economic activity, which will make it difficult for it to control the movement of money in the market.'
Israel weighs strategic implications of coronavirus crisis
Al-Monitor • 24 April 2020
…the directorate continues its routine tasks of intelligence collection, guided by the assumption that the coronavirus crisis will last through 2021. The short and mid-term effects of the crisis on Israel’s strategic profile, on the threats it faces and on the determination of its enemies are all unknown, and the military intelligence team is working to determine these factors…The intelligence directorate is considering the likelihood of three scenarios. The first, dubbed the ‘inertia option,’ predicts that the epidemic will not affect the forces arrayed against Israel. The second scenario foresees the disease having a chilling effect, lowering the threat level and reducing investment in fighting Israel for a period. The third scenario foresees the opposite — that rather than a calming effect on Israel’s enemies, the epidemic will egg them on. This possibility was supported by an unusually daring April 17 operation by a Hezbollah team that cut through the Lebanon border fence with Israel at three different places under the nose of the IDF forces stationed there. The operation was a rare risk by Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah that could have easily set off a military confrontation with Israel and military intelligence analysts believe it was made possible by the confusion of the coronavirus crisis.
Palestinian Researchers Develop Their Own Ventilator Amid Virus Shortage
Haaretz • 27 April 2020
Palestinian researchers at Al-Quds University in the West Bank unveiled on last week a computerised model of a ventilator device that could treat coronavirus patients. The machine was produced and developed by a team of doctors and engineers from the Faculty of Medicine and the Faculty of Engineering. The team hopes the device will be used to supposed coronavirus patients in intensive care units. Production is said to start after it is approved by the Health Ministry.
We Dont Have the Capacity to Treat: Palestinian-Canadian Doctor Says Israel
Must Lift Gaza Siege
Democracy Now • 24 April 2020
As fears continue to grow about what a rampant outbreak of the coronavirus might do to the occupied Palestinian territory, already crippled by years of Israeli sanctions, we get an update from Dr. Tarek Loubani, Palestinian-Canadian doctor and emergency physician who volunteers in the Gaza Strip and returned from a trip there last month. 'Testing is severely limited,' he says. 'There have been fewer tests in Gaza so far throughout the entire pandemic than there were in South Korea yesterday.