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​​​​​​News & Commentary
COVID-19 in


JULY 2020

United Methodists are responding to Kairos Palestine: A Moment of Truth ,a statement of faith and urgent call to action from Christians in Palestine.  UMKR seeks, through nonviolent means and in partnership with Palestinian Christians, freedom, justice and equality for all Palestinians and Israelis.

• 2021
December 2020   •  November 2020   •  October 2020  •  September 2020  •  August 2020   •  July 2020  •  June 2020  •  May 2020  •  April 2020 
March 2020

See also:
from Jewish Voice for Peace Health Advisory Council:


859 new cases confirmed, in Israel highest 24-hour tally since COVID-19 struck
The Times of Israel  •  1 July 2020
“According to Health Ministry data, Jerusalem saw almost 120 cases over the last day; Ashdod saw 94 cases since Tuesday morning, up to 764 from 670; Bnei Brak recorded just over 50 cases; and Tel Aviv increased its tally by 46. Dr. Erez Onn, head of the hospital division at the Health Ministry, said Wednesday that there were increasing numbers of patients hospitalized.”

The pandemic stranded Palestinians abroad. Politics kept them there.
Washington Post  •  1 July 2020
“The semiautonomous Palestinian government in the Israeli-occupied West Bank does not control any airport or border. It must coordinate travel with Israel, usually via neighboring Egypt or Jordan, which closed crossings and restricted borders in March and prioritized seats on flights for their own citizens. Coronavirus-related travel restrictions have stranded people around the world. Many residents of African countries have struggled to get home, with flights to their countries still cut off. But as a Palestinian traveling on documents issued by an entity that’s not officially a state, Bader’s predicament, and that of others in similar situations, sits at a particular nexus of international politics and the pandemic.”

PM revives restrictions on gatherings, announces 6-month economic plan
Ynet  •  2 July 2020
“The premier rolled out the new restrictions, approved during an urgent Thursday evening Cabinet meeting, which include a limit of up to 20 people at closed spaces – such residential homes; and a limit of 50 people at bars, clubs, event halls, and synagogues. A decision about the opening of restaurants was put off for a later date due to internal disputes between the ministries of health and finance. Netanyahu said that if Israel wishes to keep the economy going, certain restrictions must be introduced to combat the continued spread of coronavirus.”

Israeli Defense Contractors Partner With UAE Tech Firm to Fight Coronavirus
Haaretz  •  3 July 2020
“Two Israeli defense contractors will partner with Abu Dhabi-based technology company Group 42 to develop technologies to help fight the new coronavirus, the companies said. Israel has no diplomatic relations with Gulf Arab countries, but common concerns over Iran’s regional influence have led to a limited thaw in ties…The partnership focuses on artificial intelligence, sensors and lasers, IAI said in a statement.”

Health Ministry Calls for Locking Down Cities as New Cases Break Record
Haaretz  •  4 July 2020
“Israel and the West Bank are dealing with a renewed outbreak of the coronavirus, leading to proposals and measures intended to curb its spread and mitigate the economic ramifications of the crisis by both the Israeli and the Palestinian authorities. 25,244 people in Israel have so far tested positive for the coronavirus; 320 people have died. In the West Bank, 2,116 people tested positive; 10 people have died. There are currently 12 serious cases, with two on ventilators. In the Gaza Strip, 72 people were diagnosed and one person has died. “

Palestinian Authority extends West Bank virus lockdown
i24 News  •  7 July 2020
“The Palestinian Authority announced Tuesday that it was prolonging a lockdown in the occupied West Bank for five days following a spike in coronavirus infections. The lockdown, which began on Friday, will be extended until Sunday evening, Palestinian government spokesman Ibrahim Melhem said.”

How Hebron became the epicenter of the West Bank’s coronavirus outbreak
The Times of Israel  •  8 July 2020
“With 82 percent of the West Bank’s confirmed active coronavirus cases, Hebron has emerged as the epicenter of the West Bank’s second wave. Recording hundreds of infections per day for the past two weeks, the West Bank governorate has around as many active cases as Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Bnei Brak — the three hardest-hit Israeli cities — combined…Hebron only has 35 ventilators in total, according to the municipality’s numbers.

   With local hospitals at capacity, al-Kaila has said that sick Hebron residents are being transported across the West Bank to Bethlehem for treatment…Eighty-two percent of West Bank Palestinians with the virus contracted it at weddings and funerals in which participants violated social distancing guidelines, he said.”

Second wave of virus pummels Netanyahu
Al-Monitor  •  7 July 2020
“Israel is now seeing more than a thousand infected people a day — more than any European country. Israeli hospitals began to fill up with patients in serious condition as the economic status of hundreds of thousands continued to deteriorate. Israel, which had served as a global model for treating COVID-19, could be heading for another lockdown. How bad is it? At the bleak meeting that went on for hours, Netanyahu warned against a loss of control that could lead to another full lockdown, saying, ‘The pandemic is spreading — that’s as clear as day. It is rising steeply daily and it is dragging with it, contrary to what we had been told, a trail of critically ill patients. … If we don’t act now, we’ll find ourselves with hundreds, perhaps even more than a thousand seriously ill people in the coming weeks. And this can paralyze all our systems’.”

Why Israel is seeing a coronavirus spike after initially crushing the outbreak
Washington Post  •  7 July 2020
“Health and policy experts, while crediting the government for dampening the virus’s spread in the spring, cite a raft of failures for its summer resurgence. They include refraining from appointing a coronavirus ‘czar’ to coordinate the response and failing to put together a national network of testing labs and technicians able to track the virus. The government official noted that Israel was averaging more than 20,000 tests a day, but acknowledged inadequate contact tracing. ‘It wasn’t robust enough in terms of manpower,’ the official said. With new restrictions now taking effect, Israelis are again losing the near-normality they had thought was theirs to enjoy. The backsliding has unleashed a torrent of criticism of the government.”

Gantz enters quarantine as new cases reach record of 1,320
Jerusalem Post  •  8 July 2020
“Defense Minister and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz entered quarantine on Wednesday due to concerns that he may have come into contact with a coronavirus patient – a family member – while the new cases registered in the spam of 24 hours reached the record number of 1,320. ‘I feel great, and intend to continue working as usual,’ Gantz said, adding that he will remain in isolation until a coronavirus test and the epidemiological survey are completed. ‘There is no room to take risks’.”

Gaza: Amputee children play football again as virus curbs eased
Al Jazeera  •  8 July 2020
[Video] “It is not just a professional sport that is making a tentative return to action after the coronavirus break. Child amputees in Gaza are taking to the football ground once again.”

Top Netanyahu aide says public, not government, to blame for renewed outbreak
The Times of Israel  •  8 July 2020
“As public criticism of the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic grows, a close associate of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday placed the blame solely on the public.”

Police Arrest 20 After Thousands Protest Poor Government Aid Amid Coronavirus Economic Crisis
Haaretz  •  11 July 2020
“After hundreds left the square after the event, they marched through the city’s main streets, blocking roads and junctions and chanting “Bibi go home!” Police arrested 20 after clashes erupted between law enforcement and protesters. Of those, 16 have been questioned and two will have court hearings regarding extending their detention.”

PA cancels annexation protest due to coronavirus spread in West Bank
Jerusalem Post  •  12 July 2020
“The Palestinian Authority on Sunday evening announced that it has decided to cancel a major rally planned for Tuesday in Ramallah to protest Israeli intentions to apply sovereignty to parts of the West Bank and US President Donald Trump’s Peace for Prosperity vision for solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Palestinian Authority orders nightly, weekend coronavirus curfew
Ynet  •  12 July 2020
“The Palestinian Authority on Sunday imposed a night-time and weekend curfew on the occupied West Bank for the coming 14 days to try and rein in rising coronavirus numbers. ‘Travel will be prohibited daily from 8pm to 6am in all governorates,’ as well as from Thursday evening to Sunday morning, Palestinian government spokesman Ibrahim Melhem told a news conference.”

Netanyahu: 61% of Israelis dissatisfied with PM's handling of coronavirus
Jerusalem Post  •  13 July 2020
“The poll also recorded that if elections were held today, Netanyahu’s Likud Party would only receive 33 seats – a fall of six since the March 2 election. Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz’s Blue and White Party would fall from 33 seats to nine, although that also takes into account the split with Yesh Atid-Telem, which would gain two more seats to reach 19. The Arab Joint List would also increase its standing from 15 to 16 seats. According to the poll, the next biggest party would be Yamina, led by Bennett, with 13 seats, up from six in March. Yisrael Beytenu would also increase the number of seats, up to eight from seven, while ultra-Orthodox party Shas would decrease to seven seats, compared to the nine it won in March.”

IDF sees massive jump in COVID-19 cases, nearly tripling in 9 days

The Times of Israel  •  13 July 2020
“Over the course of nine days, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the Israel Defense Forces has nearly tripled, from 203 on July 4 to 568 on Monday, according to figures released by the military. The number of servicemembers in quarantine has similarly shot up over the past week and a half, from 5,039 on July 4 to 12,130, according to the IDF’s official tally.”

COGAT coordinates return of around 5,000 Palestinians amid COVID-19
Jerusalem Post  •  14 July 2020
“Despite the coronavirus pandemic, over the past few months the Unit for Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) has focused their efforts on bringing Palestinians, who were travelling abroad during the onset of the pandemic, home to the West Bank, whereas otherwise they would have been stranded with the limited help the Palestinian government can offer.”

Local Palestinian leaders fight with PA over lockdowns
Ynet  •  14 July 2020
“A row has erupted between the central Palestinian Authority and its local leaders over the lockdown of PA areas in the West Bank due to the coronavirus…The PA government said Sunday it had decided to extend the 10-day lockdown by another four days, but the governors of Ramallah, Hebron, and Nablus each announced that their cities were exempt from the decision. Hanna Issa, a Palestinian legal and political analyst, said that decision-makers’ ineffectual floundering represented a real tragedy, ‘where clearly trust between the government and the citizens is in very bad shape because poverty is rising and the occupation remains the same, and there are a global pandemic and closures’.”

Palestinian tribes in Hebron asked to help stem the spike in COVID-19 cases
Al-Monitor  •  14 July 2020
“The dangerously high increase in the number of affected cases in the Hebron governorate is very worrisome. The Palestinian government has added curfews and taken unprecedented steps to close off movement between governorates and ensure that all public gatherings are prohibited. The efforts of community leaders in raising awareness of the importance of health restrictions are of utmost importance to negate those using unscientific facts to discourage the public from following well-researched health orders.”

Protests rock Tel Aviv and Jerusalem amid calls for Netanyahu to go
Middle East Eye  •  18 July 2020
“Thousands of protesters gathered outside the Jerusalem residence of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday, demanding his resignation over alleged corruption and his government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis. Hit by high unemployment, a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases and reimposed coronavirus restrictions, Israelis have taken to the streets in almost daily demonstrations against the government.”

Gantz pushing for halt to West Bank areas sovereignty plan: report
i24 News  •  19 July 2020
“Israel’s Defense Minister and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz is pushing for a halt for Jerusalem’s plans to apply its laws to a number of West Bank areas, Israel Hayom reported Saturday. The newspaper cited two cabinet ministers as saying that Gantz wants Israel to focus on the health crisis it has on its hands, with new COVID-19 cases surging and tensions mounting over the government’s response to the pandemic.”

PA announces alarming coronavirus infection rates in the West Bank
Jerusalem Post  •  19 July 2020
“465 people were infected with coronavirus in the Palestinian Authority (PA) territory in the past 24 hours, totaling 6,566 active patients and 63 deceased in the West Bank since the coronavirus pandemic broke out, according to data released by the PA health organizations and reported by Walla.”

Government said to weigh weeknight lockdowns as cases pass 50,000
The Times of Israel  •  19 July 2020
“Senior government officials on Sunday were reportedly weighing imposing weeknight lockdowns in addition to the ones planned for weekends, amid concerns that young Israelis will resort to gathering at public parks and squares, as a result of the shuttering of restaurants, bars and cafes. The news came as Israel’s case count passed 50,000, standing at 50,289 Sunday night, with 28,205 of them active, and serious cases reached 252, of which 70 were on ventilators. The Health Ministry said 1,438 had been diagnosed in the past 24 hours.”

Israel to remain closed to foreign visitors until at least September
The Times of Israel  •  20 July 2020
“Restrictions preventing foreign visitors from entering the country due to the coronavirus pandemic will be extended until the the beginning of September, the Israel Airports Authority announced Monday…The ongoing ban allows only returning Israeli citizens or those who obtain special permission from the Population Immigration and Border Authority to enter the country. All those who do arrive are required to self-quarantine for two weeks.”

Coronavirus committee votes pools, beaches to stay open
Jerusalem Post  •  20 July 2020
“The coronavirus Knesset committee voted on Monday for pools and beaches to remain open. Restaurants and gyms will be voted upon later this week.”

Israel demolishes Palestinian coronavirus testing centre in Hebron

Middle East Eye  •  21 July 2020
“Israeli authorities have demolished a Palestinian drive-through coronavirus testing centre in the city of Hebron, south of the occupied West Bank…Raed Maswadeh, a 35-year-old engineer whose family owns the land in which the drive-through test service was being built, told Middle East Eye that three months ago the municipality had appealed to Palestinians to raise funds to build the facility. ‘My family decided to donate our land at the northern entrance of Hebron for the purpose of constructing a Covid-19 test clinic,’ Maswadeh said. It was built in the memory of his grandfather, who died recently due to coronavirus, and Maswadeh said the project cost his family around $250,000. The land is located in Area C, a part of the West Bank totally controlled by Israel, which almost never gives out building permits for Palestinian residents. Israeli settlers in the area, however, face no such problems. Maswadeh said that they started building the centre without a permit, like many properities in the area. ‘If we applied for a permit, we would not have gotten it. We thought maybe during Covid-19, there would be some exceptions,’  he said. The idea of the project was to ease pressure on hospitals in Hebron treating Covid-19 patients, which have reached full capacity. Maswadeh told MEE that construction had been ongoing for two months, while Israeli soldiers patrolled the area. The soldiers watched bulldozers and building equipment enter the site, but said nothing, according to Maswadeh. However, on 12 July, they received a military order to stop the construction, which was handed to them by an Israeli army commander.”

With Economic, Political Woes, West Bank's Second Coronavirus Wave Might Spin

Out of Control
Haaretz  •  21 July 2020
“A month ago, the number of active coronavirus cases in the West Bank stood at 340. On Tuesday, it crossed the 7,000 mark. Around 350 new patients are diagnosed each day, and about 60 Palestinians have died of the coronavirus over the last month…On top of the spread of the virus and the severance of ties with Israel is the fact that West Bank Palestinians increasingly lack confidence in their leaders’ decisions. They are skeptical of the PA’s judgment, worried about their livelihoods and openly dispute the latest restrictions that have been imposed in a way that may sound familiar to Israeli readers. Over the last few days, there have been a growing number of disturbances of the peace in protest against the PA’s handling of the crisis.”

East Jerusalem Struck by Record Number of Coronavirus Cases
Haaretz  •  22 July 2020
“In 24 hours, 151 new cases were identified, which marked the third time more than 100 cases were recorded in one day, all three occurring in the last week…According to sources in the city, the true numbers are higher, since some patients, especially in neighborhoods lying beyond the separation barrier, were tested by the Palestinian Ministry of Health and don’t appear on Israeli databases. According to Samih Abu Ramila, the head of a committee to combat the coronavirus in Kafr Aqab, a neighborhood in northern Jerusalem lying beyond the separation barrier, there are more than 400 cases he knows of in his neighborhood, whereas the official numbers is 109…Israel’s handling of the health crisis in East Jerusalem has been given to the IDF Home Front Command, which has set up headquarters at city hall, coordinating the assistance provided, the opening of labs for testing for the virus and the evacuation of residents to designated hotels for quarantine or to hospitals.”

Nearing 2,000 new cases, Israel sees record daily rise in virus infections
Ynet  •  22 July 2020
“In the past 24 hours, 1,977 people have tested positive for coronavirus, Israel’s highest daily tally of confirmed cases since the outbreak of the pandemic, the Health Ministry reported Wednesday morning…The country’s major virus hotspots in the past 7 days were Jerusalem with 1,794 new confirmed cases, followed by Bnei Brak and Beitar-Illit with 962 and 487 news cases, respectively.”

Health Ministry cuts quarantine period for coronavirus patients
Ynet  •  22 July 2020
“According to the new order, patients will now be considered recovered after three consecutive days without symptoms and at least 10 days since testing positive or the onset of symptoms.”

Mladenov warns: PA at risk of total collapse due to COVID-19, annexation
Jerusalem Post  •  22 July 2020
“The Palestinian Authority is on the verge of ‘total collapse’ due to the twin combination of COVID-19 and Israel’s pending annexation plans, UN Special Coordinator to the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov warned on Tuesday. ‘May salary payments were delayed due to an 80 per cent reduction in Palestinian revenues,’ Mladenov said. ‘It is unclear whether the Palestinian Government will have sufficient resources to make any future salary payments or, indeed, to continue to carry out its governing functions in the coming months,’ Mladenov told the UN Security Council during its monthly meeting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Israel Demolishes Building Palestinians Say Was Meant to Be Coronavirus
Testing Center

Haaretz  •  22 July 2020
“Israel’s Civil Administration on Tuesday tore down a building at the entrance to Hebron that Palestinians say was meant to serve as a center for coronavirus testing and quarantine. The Civil Administration, however, said the building was erected illegally for personal purposes. The structure, whose construction began three months ago, stood on land belonging to Hebron resident Hazem Maswada. Maswada says he donated the land to the city for temporary use during the pandemic so it could build a coronavirus testing center. He said the center was supposed to start operating next week.”

UN: COVID-19 efforts hampered amid Israeli-Palestinian breakdown
Al Jazeera  •  22 July 2020
UN envoy raises concern after Israeli forces demolish coronavirus quarantine centre in Hebron, sparking outrage.
“The sharp deterioration in coordination between Israeli and Palestinian officials as Israel threatens to annex large parts of the occupied West Bank has hurt efforts to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, the United Nations has said.
The warning on Tuesday came hours after Israeli forces demolished a structure used as a quarantine centre for people suspected of having the virus in the West Bank city of Hebron, sparking outrage among Palestinians.”

Coronavirus czar will get ‘all authority’ to cut virus infection chain, PM says
The Times of Israel  23 July 2020
“Gamzu’s entry as the country’s point man in dealing with the pandemic came as the government indicated that it will not rush to the drastic measure of a national lockdown.”

'Cruelty of the Occupation Knows No Bounds': Israel Demolishes Covid-19 Clinic in Epicenter of West Bank Outbreak
Common Dreams  •  23 July 2020
Palestinians living near the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the occupied West
Bank are without a badly-needed testing and quarantine center following the Israeli
government's demolition of a building that was meant to give relief to overwhelmed
The Israeli Civil Administration demolished the building, being constructed on land
belonging to Palestinian Hebron resident Hazem Maswada, on Tuesday, claiming the
structure was being erected illegally without a permit. The building was set to open to the public next week.

Palestine records 537 coronavirus cases, three fatalities
WAFA  •  24 July 2020
“Palestine today recorded 537 new novel coronavirus cases and three fatalities in the last 24 hours. The Health Ministry announced in a press release that 537 Palestinians tested positive for the highly contagious virus in the occupied territories. Among the 537 new confirmed cases, 287 cases were recorded in Jerusalem district, 106 others in Hebron district, 27 others in Ramallah and al-Bireh district, five others in Tulkarem district, 11 others in Bethlehem district, another in Jenin district, 46 others in Nablus district, 44 others in Jericho district, and 10 others in Qalqiliya district.”

COVID-19 and the Absence of Israeli-Palestinian Coordination Spell Grim Fate for Gaza Cancer Patients
Haaretz  •  24 July 2020
“The passage of Palestinians from Gaza to Israel, the West Bank or East Jerusalem has always entailed bureaucratic tribulations fraught with despair. But as if that weren’t enough, in the past few months, the lives of cancer patients in the Strip have become more hellish than ever. Two new ordeals are compounding the old ones: the spread of the coronavirus, which requires everyone who leaves Gaza for treatment in Israel to enter a three-week isolation period when they return home – time not always available to cancer patients, who need more treatments – and, even worse, the cessation of coordination between the Palestinian Authority and Israel.”

Weekend restrictions set to take effect as 59 virus deaths recorded in a week
The Times of Israel  •  24 July 2020
“The number of serious cases reached 302, a rise of 89 over the past week. Of the serious patients, 81 are on ventilators. There were 120 others in moderate condition and the rest had mild or no symptoms…Meanwhile, restrictions aimed at curbing the coronavirus were set to kick in at 5 p.m. Friday and remain in effect until early Sunday morning, after a tumultuous week that saw some of the government’s planned closures overturned by a Knesset panel….The Knesset Coronavirus Committee this week continued with its series of reversals of cabinet-imposed restrictions, ruling in several separate decisions that restaurants, attractions, swimming pools and beaches could remain open over the weekend and that gyms may reopen on Sunday morning.”

Marking another holiday in the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic
Gisha  •  28 July 2020
“At first glance, it might seem like the coronavirus pandemic spared the Gaza Strip. With just 76 verified cases, one death, and no documented community spread, the Gaza Strip indeed might be considered lucky. It might even seem like the closure, enforced by Israel and Egypt, which normally strangles the population, has for once been advantageous. Schools stayed shuttered after closing in March like much of the rest of the world, but the beaches and restaurants are now open, and families and others can gather for the holiday. But in Gaza, like in Israel, and around the world, the economic repercussions of the pandemic are making a deep mark.”

COVID-19 in the West Bank and Gaza: A second wave under military occupation and siege
Middle East Institute  •  29 July 2020
“As of July 29, more than 16.5 million cases of COVID-19 have been recorded worldwide, along with approximately 655,000 deaths. After many months of lockdown, countries are being forced to open up despite fears that a second wave is on the horizon and in many places is already underway. In the Palestinian West Bank, a brutal second wave began over a month ago with a more than 20-fold increase in infections, putting an immense strain on the health care system. This strain, however, needs to be understood in the context of the ongoing violence of the Israeli settler colonial regime. Palestinians have been consistently deprived of the most basic fundamentals of life, including health care. Israel, therefore, must been seen as a regime of comorbidity — in other words it does not simply exacerbate conditions, but rather is directly responsible for the increase in infections and the inability of the health care system to adequately treat patients.”

Israeli worshipers storm police barricades at Western Wall
Al-Monitor  •  30 July 2020
“Hundreds of Jews arrived last night to the Western Wall Plaza for the Tisha B’Av prayer and the reading of the book of Eicha. Last week, the Ministry of Health announced that 10,000 could come to the plaza for the prayer, but with the coronavirus cases increasing, that number was reduced to 1,000, in keeping with social distancing rules. A large crowd arrived — more than the 1,000 authorized — and hundreds of worshipers stormed through the security barriers placed by police to limit their number. Several right-wing politicians arrived for the prayer, including Health Minister Yuli Edelstein and pro-settler Yamina leader Naftali Bennett.”

Palestinians mark Eid amid new closures and rising contagion
Mondoweiss  •  31 July 2020
The Latest:
    •    15,232 Palestinians have tested positive for COVID-19; 11,762 in the West Bank; 75 in Gaza; 3,395 in East Jerusalem
    •    Of Palestinians who tested positive for COVID-19, at least 7,638 reside in Hebron
    •    85 Palestinians have died of COVID-19 related causes
    •    70,970 Israelis have tested positive for COVID-19; 512 have died from COVID-19 related causes
Palestinians joined Muslims around the world in celebrating the Eid al-Adha holidays on Friday, the second of two Islamic holidays celebrated each year. Tens of thousands of Palestinians took to the Al-Aqsa mosque in occupied East Jerusalem for Eid prayers in the morning — with each worshiper required to wear a mask and bring their own prayer rug.