Coronavirus robs biblical Bethlehem of Christmas cheer
Associated Press  • 1 December 2020
“Elyas al-Arja, the head of the city’s hotel association, said Bethlehem received some 3 million tourists in 2019. With Israel, the main entry point for international visitors to the region, banning tourists because of the coronavirus crisis, and the West Bank’s border crossing with Jordan closed to foreigners, that number is close to zero this year, he said. “Sixty percent of the city relies on tourism, and their income disappeared when the tourists disappeared,” said al-Arja, a cousin of the Angel Hotel owner.”

Germany will include Israel in EU vaccine programme, but not Palestinians
TRTWorld  •  1 December 2020
“According to recent reports in the Israeli media, Germany has promised to include the country in the EU’s coronavirus vaccination deal that is being made with large pharmaceutical companies. The pledge was made by German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and Health Minister Jens Spahn to Israel’s Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi as a continuation of the country’s “special relationship” because of the Holocaust.”

Hamas Chief in Gaza Contracts Coronavirus
Haaretz  •  1 December 2020
“Yahya Sinwar, the leader of Hamas in Gaza, has contracted the coronavirus, the organization said on Tuesday. According to Hamas, Sinwar feels well and is working as usual while adhering to Gaza’s COVID guidelines. The Strip has suffered record numbers of coronavirus cases over past weeks, with diagnoses soaring past 5,000 in the tiny enclave.”


A gloomy Christmas in store for Gaza handicraft workshop
Reuters  •  2 December 2020
“Coronavirus lockdowns have made it difficult for the Zeina Cooperative Association to export its hand-crafted Christmas gifts from Gaza to Europe and to the Palestinian town of Bethlehem in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. About 24 Palestinian Muslim women, many of them veiled, work at the facility, making miniature Christmas trees, red-and-white puppets and Santa Claus marionettes. But sales are down by half after a holiday boom a year ago, scuppering expansion plans and changing business strategy.”


Netanyahu, Palestinians in West Bank and Gaza Need Vaccines, Too
Haaretz  •  2 December 2020
“But senior health officials erred in their calculations: They counted only the number of vaccine doses needed to immunize nine million Israeli citizens, and failed to include the number of doses needed to vaccinate five million Palestinians, residents of the West Bank and Gaza, living under Israeli control and responsibility….At a time when the Palestinian authorities are unable to purchase the vaccines on their own, the state of Israel must do so – as part of its obligation to ensure equal rights to everyone living under its control, Israelis and Palestinians alike.”

Israeli medical delegation enters Gaza to provide essential COVID-19 care
The Times of Israel  •  3 December 2020
“A delegation of Israeli doctors entered the Gaza Strip on Thursday morning to provide free treatment for hundreds of Gazans impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The medical delegation — organized by Physicians for Human Rights – Israel — is the first of its kind from Israel to the coastal enclave since the beginning of the pandemic nine months ago. The twelve doctors, all of whom are Israeli Arabs, will conduct surgeries, medical training, and instruction for Palestinian medical teams, the rights group said. The delegation will bring some medical equipment and drugs with which to help combat the pandemic. But the doctors’ chief focus will be on other urgent cases that have been delayed as Gaza’s hospitals have filled with coronavirus patients.”

Gaza caught between full lockdown or collapse of health sector amid COVID-19 surge
Al-Monitor  •  3 December 2020
“A health catastrophe looms on the horizon of the Gaza Strip amid the already fragile health-care sector, while the government hesitates to impose a full lockdown due to the deteriorating economic situation.”

Arab-Israeli medical team in Gaza to assist in Covid-19 response
Middle East Monitor  •  4 December 2020
“A team of ten Palestinian doctors who hold Israeli citizenship arrived in the Gaza Strip on Thursday to carry out essential surgery and assist medical teams dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic, Anadolu has reported. The Director General of Pharmacies in the Ministry of Health, Munir Al-Borsh, told the news agency that the doctors include orthopaedic specialists, neurologists, heart surgeons and mental health experts. He pointed out that the team has been visiting Gaza for years to provide medical services, but this is the first visit since the outbreak of the coronavirus in the besieged enclave. Al-Borsh explained that the medical team carried medical and surgical equipment with them as well as essential drugs. They will perform surgical procedures on a number of patients.”

Gaza health officials say 1 in 3 tests positive for coronavirus
i24 News  •  6 December 2020
“About one in three drug tests came back positive in the past 24 hours, the ministry said, sparking fears that the Gaza Strip may be spiraling toward a catastrophic health crisis. The Strip currently has 10,493 active patients, the vast majority of whom have been diagnosed in the past three weeks. In addition, 726 new cases were recorded Sunday morning. Hamas authorities have ordered a nighttime curfew to curb the spread of the virus in the coastal enclave.”

Gaza running out of testing kits, says official; WHO says 5000 swaps will be sent to Gaza
Wafa  •  7 December 2020
“As the Gaza Strip is running out of testing kits, the World Health Organization (WHO) is getting ready to send 5000 swaps to the besieged sea enclave, according to a Palestinian Health Ministry official. Fathi Abu Warda, an advisor to the Minister of Health, told WAFA that WHO has promised to send 5000 swaps to Gaza after its testing kits have run out. “We have been calling since yesterday on the World Health Organization to provide Gaza with swaps for testing of coronavirus, and it promised us today to resolve this problem in coordination with Health Minister Mai Alkaila,” he said. However, he added, the Health Ministry in Ramallah is also experiencing a shortage of testing kits.”

Gaza Resumes COVID Testing After Receiving Kits From World Health Organization
Haaretz  •  7 December 2020
“The Gaza Strip can resume coronavirus testing and has enough kits for eight days after receiving 19,500 coronavirus of them testing kits from the World Health Organization, the enclave’s Health Ministry said on Monday. The ministry said on Sunday that the main laboratory conducting coronavirus tests in Gaza had been forced to halt operations because of a shortage of equipment. It was the latest in a series of dire signs about the state of Gaza’s medical situation due to the ongoing rise in the number of coronavirus patients. Last week, around 30 percent of coronavirus tests in Gaza were coming back positive, with the daily number of tests ranging from 2,000 to 2,500.”

EU delegation visits Gaza to assess coronavirus treatment
Middle East Monitor  •  8 December 2020
“A EU delegation arrived in the besieged Gaza Strip today to assess the health situation in the Palestinian territory amid a coronavirus outbreak. The delegation visited the European Hospital in Gaza for treatment of COVID-19 patients. It will also visit EU-funded projects in Gaza and meet representatives of the territory’s civil society. The EU said in a statement yesterday that the visit aims to show solidarity with the residents of Gaza and to review the health situation in the Palestinian enclave.”
See also:
Occupied Palestine to enter lockdown as Gaza gets Covid-19 test kits from WHO (Middle East Monitor)
EU delegation promises to help Gaza get virus vaccines (Times of Israel)

Israel, Hamas closing on prisoner swap deal in light of COVID-19 crisis
i24 News  •  13 December 2020
“According to reports, the breakthrough in talks ensued due to the spread of COVID-19 in the Gaza Strip, and the authorities’ growing fears that the situation could get out of hand without further external aid.”
See also:
As Virus Spreads Across Gaza, Hamas Is More Willing to Negotiate With Israel (Haaretz)

Netanyahu enters quarantine for third time after contact with virus carrier
The Times of Israel  •  14 December 2020
“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will enter quarantine until Friday after meeting a person who was later confirmed to be a carrier of coronavirus, his office said Monday afternoon. Netanyahu underwent virus tests on Sunday and Monday and came out negative for the virus, the statement added.”

In Gaza and West Bank, COVID Vaccination Campaign Shrouded in Uncertainty
Haaretz  •  15 December 2020
“The Palestinian Authority is preparing to launch its coronavirus vaccination campaign, but officials say it’s still unclear whether they will be able to get any vaccines besides the Russian Sputnik V. Senior PA officials said the amount of Russian vaccine they were promised should suffice for the Gaza Strip as well as the West Bank. But sources in Israel and in international organizations active in Gaza said it’s not yet clear what solutions will be available for Gazans…PA Health Minister Mai al-Kaila said negotiations are being held with both Pfizer and Moderna to get their vaccines. But even if a deal is reached with Pfizer, it will probably be for only a small amount, ministry officials said, since the vaccine must be stored at very cold temperatures and the PA lacks the capability to store large quantities. It is therefore exploring other vaccine options that would be easier to handle logistically…Another question is how the vaccines will reach the PA – via the Allenby Bridge crossing from Jordan or through Israel’s Ben-Gurion Airport. So far, neither the PA in the West Bank nor the Hamas government in Gaza has managed to curb the spread of the virus. According to official statistics from Gaza, only 157 new patients were diagnosed over the past day, but that may be due partly to a significant drop in the number of tests, from a daily average of 2,500 to just 750. The number of active cases in Gaza is now 8,717, including 188 seriously ill patients.”

Gaza Sees Spike in Serious Cases, Ventilated Patients
Haaretz  •  16 December 2020
“Israel, the West Bank and Gaza are dealing with a renewed coronavirus outbreak, leading to proposals and measures intended to curb its spread and mitigate the economic ramifications of the crisis by both Israeli and Palestinian authorities. Israel currently has 17,691 active cases; 3,003 people have died. In the West Bank, there are 15,793 active cases and 905 deaths, and in Gaza 8,717 active cases and 202 deaths.”

COVID-19 Emergency Situation Report 24 (3-16 December 2020)
OCHA/OPT   •  17 December 2020
“The reporting period witnessed a continuing rise in COVID-19 cases in the oPt, with over 25,000 additional Palestinians testing positive, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health (MoH)…Gaza accounts for 35 per cent of all active cases in the oPt, followed by the governorates of Nablus (16 per cent), Hebron (eight per cent), Jenin (7.6 per cent), Ramallah (7.6 per cent) and the East Jerusalem area (5.8 per cent). The continuing rise in infections has led to new restrictions in both the West Bank and Gaza…” Also see: Palestinians left waiting as Israel is set to deploy vaccine (AP), Israel may hand Palestinians COVID-19 vaccines, deputy health minister says (Times of Israel)

Vaccines for Both Peoples
Haaretz Editorial  •  16 December 2020
“While in Israel people are debating whether to be vaccinated, in the West Bank and Gaza it isn’t clear where they will get vaccines from, when they will get them, and who will pay for them….If the situation in the West Bank is uncertain, then in Gaza there is total darkness. Gaza has lost control over the spread of the virus and the leadership doesn’t know when vaccines will arrive or in what quantities (as reported by Jack Khoury on Tuesday). According to Palestinian government officials, the expected vaccines are supposed to cover Gazans as well, but international aid organizations in Gaza say they aren’t sure this is so. As a result, Physicians for Human Rights in Israel approached Health Ministry director general Prof. Chezy Levy and the coordinator of government activities in the territories, Maj. Gen. Kamil Abu Rokon, and demanded that Israel supply vaccines to the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza as well. The organization explained its demand by saying the Palestinians are under Israeli occupation and control, they do not have a way to buy the vaccines independently but only through the Israeli authorities, and that it’s doubtful the PA can finance the cost of purchasing and distributing vaccines. This is a justified demand. Israel has the legal, moral and humanitarian responsibility to vaccinate the Palestinian population, which lives in distress under its control and whose lives intertwine with the lives of many Israelis. Israelis and Palestinians live in very close proximity to each other, so it really isn’t possible to eliminate the pandemic in Israel proper while it is still raging in the other territories it is responsible for.”
See also:
Gaza Health Care System at Risk of Collapse Due to Rising COVID-19 Cases (Haaretz)
Palestinians left waiting as Israel set to deploy COVID vaccine (Al Jazeera)

As vaccinations begin, Israel may offer Palestinians surplus
Al Monitor  •  18 December 2020
“Deputy Health Minister Yoav Kisch said yesterday that if Israel gets more vaccines than it needs, it may offer the excess to the Palestinian Authority. Speaking at an interview with the public Kan radio station, Kisch said, “Should we see that Israel’s demands have been met and we have additional capability, we will certainly consider helping the Palestinian Authority.” He also said that doing so would help prevent a resurgence of outbreaks in Israel proper.”

Under auspices of Shtayyeh, Norway and UNICEF sign $6M partnership agreement
Wafa  •  18 December 2020
“Under the auspices of Prime Minister  Mohammed Shtayyeh, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and UNICEF today agreed on a partnership to strengthen early childhood health care, protection, and development, and to support UNICEF’s COVID-19 response activities in the State of Palestine, said a press release issued by UNICEF.”

Palestinians left waiting as Israel rolls out Covid-19 vaccine jab
Middle East Monitor  •  19 December 2020
“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received a Covid-19 vaccine jab on Saturday, kicking off a national rollout over the coming days. The massive vaccination campaign, said to be the biggest in Israel’s history and titled ‘Give a Shoulder,’ will not include millions of Palestinians living under Israeli control despite a recent spike in cases and deaths stemming from the virus. Meanwhile, Jewish settlers living in the occupied West Bank are eligible for the jab. The PA hopes to get vaccines through a World Health Organisation-led partnership with humanitarian organisations known as COVAX, which has so far fallen short of the 2 billion doses it hopes to buy over the next year for those in poor countries. Complicating matters is the fact that the Palestinians have only one refrigeration unit capable of storing the Pfizer vaccine.”
See also:
Israel is starting to vaccinate, but Palestinians may have to wait months (Washington Post)

140 Palestinian prisoner contracted COVID-19 since outbreak of pandemic
WAFA  •  20 December 2020
“A total of 140 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli detention have contracted COVID-19 since the outbreak of the pandemic in early March this year, today said Hasan Abed Rabbo, a spokesman of the Detainees and Ex-Detainees Commission. Abed Rabbo told official Voice of Palestine radio that the international community should bear a moral responsibility under the Fourth Geneva Convention to pressure the Israeli occupation to ensure the health wellbeing and safety of the Palestinian prisoners. He demanded all the concerned human rights organizations to intervene to save the lives of the prisoners at this particular hard time.”

Euro MPs petition to allow medical supplies into Gaza
Anadolu Agency  21 December 2020
“A group of 24 members of the European Parliament signed a petition launched Monday by the Geneva-based Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor, which called on the Israeli government to lift its siege of Gaza and allow in COVID-19 medical supplies. The lawmakers include Manu Pineda, the chair of the Delegation for Relations with Palestine. The petition calls for allowing coronavirus medical supplies ‘in light of the recent spike in the number of COVID-19 cases in the coastal enclave.’”

Palestine records 1,561 new Covid-19 cases, 29 deaths
WAFA  •  22 December 2020
“Palestine today recorded 1,561 new Covid-19 cases and 29 deaths, according to Health Minister Mai al-Kaileh. Al-Kaileh announced that 1,561 Palestinians tested positive for the virus and 29 others died of it in the occupied territories. Among the new 1,561 cases, 1,045 cases were recorded in the West Bank and 516 cases in the Gaza Strip.”

With over 3,500 new cases, virus czar says fast decision needed on lockdown
The Times of Israel  •  22 December 2020
“National coronavirus czar Nachman Ash said on Tuesday that the country had reached a daily new caseload of over 3,500 newly confirmed infections, and that officials needed to make an immediate decision on sending the country into a full lockdown or tightening restrictions. “This morning we are have around 3,500 [newly] verified coronavirus patients. We are considering going into lockdown,” Ash told Army Radio. “A decision needs to be made now. Tightened restraint will take about five weeks. Full closure will be shorter — three weeks at the current infection rate,” Ash said.”

Israel to Bar Entry to Foreigners, Quarantine All Arriving Israelis in COVID Hotels
Haaretz  •  22 December 2020
“The coronavirus cabinet on Monday barred entry to foreign nationals, and mandated a 14-day quarantine in designated hotels for Israelis returning from abroad. The Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee approved the cabinet’s mandated quarantine in COVID-19 hotels to all returning Israelis on Tuesday morning. The regulation will come into force on Wednesday at 10 P.M. and will be in place until January 1, 2021. These decisions were made in an effort to block a new strain of the coronavirus that has appeared in the United Kingdom from entering Israel.”

Occupants of Jerusalem COVID hotel fear it’s a breeding ground for UK strain
The Times of Israel  •  22 December 2020
“The main quarantine facility set up to block the new British COVID-19 strain from entering Israel could become a breeding ground for the virus due to mismanagement and poor hygiene standards, residents say. Israel has compelled hundreds of its citizens returning from the United Kingdom, Denmark and South Africa to self-isolate in state-run facilities over fears of the new variant, which is thought to be far more infectious. On Wednesday night, that policy will be dramatically widened to include all returning citizens entering the country.”

Palestine records high daily Covid-19 infections
WAFA  •  23 December 2020
“Palestine today recorded 2,110 new Covid-19 cases and 31 deaths, according to Health Minister Mai al-Kaileh. Al-Kaileh announced that 2,110 Palestinians tested positive for the virus and 31 others died of it in the occupied territories. Among the 2,110 new cases, 1,243 cases were recorded in the West Bank, including Jerusalem governorate, and 867 others in the besieged Gaza Strip.”

Israel Bars Entry of Foreigners as COVID Cases Surge
Haaretz  •  23 December 2020
“Israel’s new guidelines drastically limiting the entry of foreign citizens into the country went into effect on Wednesday, after the government had previously made numerous exceptions to its official policy to bar the entry of non-Israelis to the country over the course of the coronavirus pandemic. According to updated Interior Ministry regulations, some foreign citizens, who had previously been permitted to apply for entry, are now completely forbidden to enter the country until January 4.”

Coronavirus czar says third lockdown 'inevitable' as cabinet meets
Ynet  •  23 December 2020
“Israel’s coronavirus czar Prof. Nachman Ash said Wednesday that a third, nationwide coronavirus lockdown is “inevitable,” as the government met on the terms of such a closure. Ministers were discussing a new lockdown from next week, including full shutdown of all trade and the education system, as the country saw daily infections soar to more than 3,000 and a 5.7% positivity rate for tests on Tuesday”

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SEE MORE:
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December 2020   •  November 2020   •  October 2020  •  September 2020  •  August 2020   •  July 2020  •  June 2020  •  May 2020  •  April 2020 
• 
March 2020


See also:
TIMELINE FOR COVID-19 IN ISRAEL/PALESTINE
from Jewish Voice for Peace Health Advisory Council:
https://www.jvphealth.org/covid-19

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