Temple Mount closed to both Jews, Muslims over coronavirus
Al-Monitor  •  1 May 2020
As a result of the coronavirus, one of the greatest sources of friction in the Middle East has found itself engulfed in a rare state of tranquility. The entire Temple Mount has been shut down to visitors, worshippers and tourists alike, and now that it is empty, the clashes that constantly plagued the sacred site have all but disappeared.

Trump must release already allocated humanitarian funds to save Palestinian lives
Responsible Statecraft  •  2 May 2020
Humanitarian assistance should never be politicized, and certainly not when a pandemic threatens millions of lives. If the Trump administration is willing to send aid to North Korea and has offered to bolster Iran’s response to the coronavirus, then why has it failed to deploy sufficient and meaningful assistance already allocated by Congress to Palestine refugees in dire need?

Palestinians in Israeli-controlled West Bank Fall Through Cracks
of Coronavirus Response

Haaretz  •  3 May 2020

“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.”

Dawn of a New Era? Jerusalem and Its Palestinian Residents Joining Forces to Battle Coronavirus
Haaretz  •  3 May 2020

“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.”

Palestinian workers allowed back into Israel as virus restrictions eased
Times of Israel  •  3 May 2020

“Some 14,500 workers entered Israel from the West Bank Sunday morning, out of 39,000 total permits granted by Israeli authorities. The workers are returning to jobs frozen for over a month, after the West Bank and much of Israel’s economy went into lockdown to stem the spread of the coronavirus. The jobs are mainly in construction, agriculture and industrial plants. The move comes after Israeli and Palestinian officials reached an agreement that includes a provision that Israel will supply the workers with protective gear, including face masks and gloves.”

Israel eases coronavirus rules: It’s back to the malls and visits with the grandkids
Jewish Telegraphic Agency  •  4 May 2020

“In a nationally televised address Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a further relaxation of coronavirus restrictions in Israel. The new rules permit visits by first-degree relatives – without hugs — and cancel the restriction on movement beyond the immediate vicinity of one’s home. This means that grandchildren and their grandparents to get together for the first time in weeks.”

Gov't extends Shin Bet coronavirus surveillance, advances Knesset bill
Jerusalem Post  •  4 May 2020

“The government on Monday voted to extend Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) surveillance of citizens infected with coronavirus. It also is trying to move legislation forward to permanently regulate the program in accordance with the High Court of Justice. The current plan is to ask the Knesset Intelligence Subcommittee to extend the program until June 16 or until a new Knesset law is passed to regulate it.”
See also, in Middle East Eye:
Coronavirus: Israel approves extension of Shin Bet surveillance powers

PA extends coronavirus state of emergency in occupied West Bank
Al Jazeera  •  5 May 2020

“The Palestinian Authority (PA) has announced a one-month extension of a state of emergency imposed in the occupied West Bank to try and curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. 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.”

Despite cafes opening, Gazans still reluctant to go out
Al-Monitor  •  5 May 2020

“The Ministry of National Economy in the Gaza Strip allowed on April 27 restaurants and cafes to reopen. This comes as part of the government measures to ease restrictions previously imposed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the enclave. The Gaza Strip is still maintaining a low number of cases, as the Ministry of Health recorded 17 infections since March 21. As of the end of April, 12 individuals had recovered and seven remain under medical observation in Gaza hospitals. No confirmed cases have been registered since April 23.”

Israel's Gatekeepers Have Become Enablers of a Dangerous Coronavirus Policy
Haaretz  •  5 May 2020

“…the end result to which the High Court’s ruling is pushing us is that this tracking will be enshrined in regular legislation – “the high road,” as jurists call it. Instead of focusing on the substance of this tactic, that is, the use of extremely invasive tracking technology against Israeli citizens, the justices have once again chosen to focus on procedure – the process by which the regulations were adopted, without the checks and balances that ostensibly exist in the standard legislative process.”

Palestinians fear outbreak in Jerusalem’s ‘no man’s land’
Associated Press  •  5 May 2020

“As the coronavirus pandemic gathered strength last month, community leaders in a Palestinian neighborhood on the outskirts of Jerusalem tried to impose lockdown and quarantine measures to protect residents. The problem: there were no police to enforce the measures. Kufr Aqab is within the Israeli-drawn municipal boundary of Jerusalem, which Israel views as its unified capital. It is therefore off-limits to the Palestinian Authority, which is headquartered in the nearby city of Ramallah and governs parts of the occupied West Bank. But the neighborhood is on the opposite side of the separation barrier Israel built in the mid-2000s, so the Israeli police don’t go there either.”

UNRWA operating month to month under COVID-19, as funding crisis persists
Jerusalem Post  •  5 May 2020

“The United Nations Relief and Works Agency has only enough funds to operate month by month as it struggles to service 5.6 million Palestinian refugees in the Middle East during the COVID-19 pandemic. ‘Right now we have funding to pay our 30,000 health care workers until the end of this month,’ Elizabeth Campbell, UNRWA’s Washington-based director told reporters during a Zoom call on Tuesday.”

Arab mayors in Israel strike against unfair distribution of pandemic funding
Al-Monitor  •  5 May 2020

“Arab Israeli local councils began a one-day strike this morning against the government’s failure to allocate enough funds to compensate for their losses due to the novel coronavirus crisis. A committee of Arab Israeli council heads condemned the government’s distribution of compensation to local governance for the loss of property tax payments from business owners who were forced to their close doors by coronavirus restrictions. They say that the compensation was distributed disproportionately, discriminating against the Arab localities.”

Gaza farmers destroyed flowers amid lockdown
Al-Monitor  •  5 May 2020

“Ghazi Hijazi’s farm in Rafah, in the northern Gaza Strip, is the last standing rose farm in the besieged enclave. The farm is struggling to survive since local sales have dried up. The Hamas-ruled government in Gaza has imposed a lockdown as part of precautionary measures announced March 22 to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.  Flower businesses and other enterprises in Gaza have struggled under Israel’s yearslong blockade.”

Coronavirus crisis highlights Druze discrimination in Israel
Al-Monitor  •  6 May 2020

“While Israel is completely absorbed by the coronavirus outbreak, the Druze and Circassian communities have reached a new pressure point. On May 3, the Druze community responded by launching what they call a ‘month of rage’ to protest their dire circumstances. The protest includes a strike until further notice in all Druze villages, including in schools and other educational institutions. On May 5, dozens of activists blocked a highway in the north of the country, as a sign of protest. Leading this general strike is the ‘Forum of Mayors of Druze and Circassian Local Authorities.’ On May 3, they gathered in Jerusalem, in front of the prime minister’s office, carrying signs with slogans like, ‘Did you betray me, brother?’ and ‘We will not be the next Southern Lebanon Army.'”

Israelis Protest Femicide After Uptick in Violence Against Women During Coronavirus Lockdown
Haaretz  •  6 May 2020

“Protesters gathered in cities around Israel to rally against femicide and domestic violence after the Social Services Ministry announced that five women had been killed in domestic violence related incidents during the coronavirus lockdown…Feminist organizer Anat Nir said: ‘We are taking to the streets over the murder of five women in seven weeks, but that’s just the tip of the phenomenon. We are the invisible victims of the coronavirus. The exit from the coronavirus crisis is being managed on the backs and over the heads of women. We constitute most of those who have been laid off. We bear the burden of taking care of children and the sick. We are the social workers and teachers, and staff most of the nursing and [medical] treatment positions.'”

Despite State of Emergency, PA Seeks Return to Normal
The Media Line  •  6 May 2020

“On Wednesday, several watchdog groups in Israel – Kav LaOved−Worker’s Hotline, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) and Physicians for Human Rights – announced that the country had agreed to provide insurance and accommodations for Palestinian construction workers staying in Israel due to the COVID-19 epidemic rather than going home nightly. There will also be government oversight of their living conditions. The announcement came a day after the three groups filed a petition with Israel’s High Court of Justice. Under the new directives, Palestinian workers will be treated in Israeli clinics or hospitals when needed. The court also obligated Israeli employers to provide certain living conditions, as specified in emergency regulations. Additionally, the practice of taking personal documents from employees to restrict their movement was canceled. Abir Joubran Dakwar, a lawyer and head of the Occupied Palestinian Territories unit at ACRI, told The Media Line that the Israeli government accepted almost all of the petitioners’ demands regarding accommodations, insurance and work conditions. ‘It’s a huge success, where the decision took effect yesterday [May 5],’ she said. ‘Employers are now obligated to secure the workers and equip them with needed preventive measures [against coronavirus], just like any other foreign workers in Israel.’”

Israel Set to Approve $230m Loan to the Palestinian Authority
for Its Coronavirus Response

Haaretz  •  10 May 2020

“Israel will approve an 800 million shekel (about $230 million) payment to the Palestinian Authority Sunday evening to help it cope with the coronavirus, Finance Ministry officials confirmed Sunday.
Government sources say the payment is an advance on the tax revenue Israel collects on the PA’s behalf. Under the agreement that is slated to be signed with the PA Sunday evening, the money will be transferred in four monthly installments. The first installment will be delivered at the end of this month.

Coronavirus imposes different reality for Palestinians during Ramadan
Al-Monitor  •  11 May 2020

“Despite some easing of the restrictions imposed to contain the novel coronavirus outbreak in Gaza and the West Bank, mosques will remain closed and public gatherings banned during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which lasts from April 24 to May 23. The Palestinian Authority (PA) announced the closure of all West Bank mosques on March 17, and Hamas followed suit in Gaza on March 24, and the two governments had previously announced the closure of all halls and public markets earlier in March.”

Coronavirus: UN calls for release of Palestinian children detained by Israel
Middle East Eye  •  11 May 2020

“The UN agency for children has called on Israel to release imprisoned Palestinian children amid the spread of the coronavirus, warning that children in detention ‘face heightened risk of contracting Covid-19’. In a joint statement released on Monday, three UN officials based in the region, including the Unicef special representative for Palestine, Genevieve Boutin, said 194 Palestinian minors were in Israeli detention by the end of March, an increase from the monthly average last year. ‘The rights of children to protection, safety and wellbeing must be upheld at all times,’ the statement said.”

For Medicinal Purposes: The Israeli Military Sector and the Coronavirus Crisis
Who Profits  •  May 2020

“In this flash report, Who Profits will investigate the coronavirus-related activities of the Israeli military establishment and private enterprises, focusing on new initiatives reportedly launched by the three largest and most lucrative Israeli military corporations: the state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and the publicly traded Elbit Systems.”

How Palestinian citizens are putting Israel’s coronavirus powers in check
+972 Magazine  •  12 May 2020

“Among those at the forefront of the legal battle against these far-reaching measures is the legal center Adalah. A small, Haifa-based NGO that focuses on issues relating to Palestinian citizens of Israel as well as Palestinians in the occupied territories, Adalah has filed a number of interventions to the Supreme Court against the new regulations.”

Farmers, shepherds face loss of livelihoods in occupied West Bank
Al Jazeera  •  13 May 2020

“In the occupied West Bank, farmers and shepherds are being hit by the coronavirus pandemic. A lockdown across the territory has slowed an economy that was already in crisis. They have been left without any markets to sell their produce and it could threaten their way of life.”

Israel Tells Court Would Stop Forcing Palestinian Laborers to Give Access
to Phone Data

Haaretz  •  15 May 2020

“More than 50,000 Palestinians downloaded an app that gives Israel access to files and data from their cell phones. Contrary to what Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activity in the Territories says, employers were required to have Palestinian laborers use the app. The Civil Administration said it would change the terms of use for the Al Munasiq (Arabic for “The Coordinator”) app that was criticized for being invasive, but so far it has not happened. The decision came in response to an inquiry by Hamoked: Center for the Defense of the Individual. The Al Munasiq app was first launched by COGAT in February 2019, as a way to offer digital access to services for Palestinians, such as checking on the status of permit applications. But in downloading the app, the user is required to give very broad permission to access information on geographical location, access to the phone’s camera and to messages and files stored on the phone.”

Hundreds of international artists call for end to Gaza blockade

Jerusalem Post  •  18 May 2020
“More than 250 artists and writers from around the world called on Israel to end its blockade of Gaza in an online letter late last week, which has been enforced by Israel and Egypt since 2007 following Hamas’s take over the Strip, according to a report by AlJazeera. Some of the prominent names pressuring for an end to the blockade include Peter Gabriel, British filmmaker Ken Loach, and Hollywood actor Viggo Mortensen, who called on Israel to end its ‘siege’ of the Gaza Strip, while also saying that the coronavirus pandemic will have disastrous results in ‘the world’s largest open-air prison’. Other famous signatories include poet Taha Adnan, Jewish-Canadian writer Naomi Klein, and the British Trip-hop group Massive Attack.”

Arab councils in Israel on strike over pandemic, economic crisis
Al-Monitor  •  18 May 2020

“This was not how Israel’s 1.9 million Arab citizens had hoped to spend Ramadan. Local governments in Israel’s Arab towns and villages have been on strike since May 5, closing down schools, suspending welfare and other municipal services as well as garbage collection, policing and the local coronavirus centers tasked with curtailing the spread of the disease….The Committee of Local Arab Councils claims it had no choice but to go on strike because no one in the government was listening to them, even though their communities had been harder hit by the pandemic and its repercussions than Jewish ones.”

Multiple Demolitions in Al-Walajeh Area Marked
for a National Park “Touristic Settlement”

Ir Amim  •  18 May 2020

“On May 18, Israeli forces demolished at least three homes and three agricultural structures in Al-Walajeh on the southern edge of East Jerusalem. All of the demolitions took place on the Israeli side of the Separation Barrier in an area of roughly 1,200 dunams of Al-Walajeh land declared by Israel as the Nahal Rephaim National Park and touted as being ‘for the welfare of Jerusalem residents’. The demolitions were carried out despite the fact that currently no demolitions are taking place in East Jerusalem in accordance with the Ministry of Justice’s declaration from March 18 that demolitions of residential structures  will not take place during the COVID19 emergency situation. Furthermore, the home owners were not aware that any demolition orders were issued for their buildings. It is likely that the demolitions were carried out as part of the preparations taking place for the opening of the Nahal Rephaim National Park to Israeli visitors, seeing as the Israeli Nature and Parks Authority (INPA) has been conducting extensive work on the site over the last couple of months.”

[Press Release] Order the army to stop the use of violent measures
against Gaza fishermen

Al Mezan, Gisha, Adalah  •  20 May 2020

“In recent weeks, the Israeli navy has increasingly used violent enforcement measures at sea, with incidents of fire on fishermen off the coast of Gaza rising by 70 percent in April compared to January-March 2020. The use of live fire threatens fishermen’s lives and causes severe damage to boats and equipment. All this against the backdrop of great economic uncertainty and increased concern for the well-being and food security of Gaza’s civilian population given the measures taken to curb the spread of COVID-19. Human rights organizations Gisha, Adalah and Gaza-based Al Mezan sent an urgent letter to Israel’s Attorney General and Military Advocate General, demanding they order the army to put an immediate end to the harassment of fishermen and investigate past incidents…In the letter sent on behalf of the three organizations, Gisha lawyer Muna Haddad stated that ‘the policy of using potentially lethal force against fishermen and causing severe, irreversible harm to their property is illegal and disproportionate.’ According to fishermen’s testimonies, the navy uses violent measures even when fishing vessels are located within the permitted fishing zone. Adv. Haddad emphasized that ‘in any case, sailing outside of the fishing zone does not, in itself, pose a security threat that justifies use of force ostensibly intended to enforce security restrictions.'”

Jerusalem Day march to be replaced with 700-person chain around Old City
Times of Israel  •  20 May 2020

“Police and organizers came to an agreement Wednesday on holding a smaller, more coronavirus-friendly Jerusalem Day march on Thursday, to mark the anniversary of Israel taking control of the Temple Mount compound and the eastern parts of the city during the 1967 Six Day War. The day is usually marked by a right-wing march through the Old City’s Muslim Quarter ending at the Western Wall, and has in the past been blamed for increased tensions between Jews and Arabs. According to the agreement reached with the Israel Police, instead of a march through the Old City’s narrow warren of streets, 700 people will be allowed to form a human chain, with two meters between links, around many of the Old City gates, organizers said in a statement.”

Could the Pandemic Jump-Start National Reconciliation in Palestine?
Carnegie Endowment  •  20 May 2020

While most eyes have been focused on dramatic steps at the national and international level—Israeli moves toward annexation; support from the United States for Israel’s unilateral action; European consternation; and Palestinian threats to abandon past agreements—potentially portentous developments have been taking place far from the headlines. 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. Two months after a cash-strapped PA declared a state of emergency and called on Palestinian civil society and the diaspora for support, those constituencies are beginning to make demands. And these changes, when coupled with the drama at the international level—have the potential to reshape the conflict.

PA refuses UAE aid sent via Israel, won’t be ‘tool for normalization’
Times of Israel  •  21 May 2020

“The Palestinian Authority government has refused to accept medical aid from the United Arab Emirates after it arrived on the first known direct commercial flight between Israel and the UAE, PA sources told multiple Arab media outlets. The UAE-based airline made history Tuesday, as the plane loaded with 16 tons of coronavirus aid for Palestinians flew directly from Abu Dhabi to Tel Aviv. Palestinian media, as well as Russia Today Arabic, quoted a government source Thursday saying the aid had been rejected, explaining Ramallah was refusing to be used as a ‘tool for normalization’ between Israel and the UAE.”

GAZA: Crossings update: Number of verified coronavirus cases jumps to 49,
all of them having entered Gaza via Rafah Crossing

Gisha  •  21 May 2020

“The cases announced today are from three separate government-run quarantine centers throughout the Strip. There is concern that some of the individuals may have come into contact with others in the quarantine centers and possibly also individuals outside the centers. According to media reports, the local authorities are considering intensifying the lockdown in the Strip in response. This weeks’ cases bring the total number of individuals with confirmed cases in the Strip to 49, 16 of which have recovered from the virus.”

Palestinians vexed over prayer restrictions at Cave of the Patriarchs
Jewish News Syndicate  •  27 May 2020

“The Palestinian Authority accused Israel on Tuesday of infringing on freedom of worship following restrictive measures imposed on services at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. Israel has imposed restrictions on the religious services of all faiths, as part of the limitations placed on public gatherings due to COVID-19. The P.A.’s Wafa news agency claimed that the ‘Israeli occupation forces’ prevented Palestinians from attending morning prayers at the Ibrahimi Mosque, the Arabic name for the Cave of the Patriarchs. According to the report, the Israel Defense Forces has set up checkpoints, tightened its inspections along the roads leading to the site and prevented groups of more than 50 people from entering the mosque or gathering outside the compound.”

I am under a lockdown, but not because of the coronavirus
Al Jazeera  •  27 May 2020

“In the last few months, due to the coronavirus pandemic, millions of people around the world experienced for the first time the difficulties and frustrations of living under state-imposed rules and regulations that restrict their freedom of movement.  For me, however, the lockdown was nothing new. I am used to living under shifting sets of rules which define where I can go and what I can do. Why? Because I am a Palestinian living under Israeli occupation. I grew up in the occupied West Bank, so checkpoints and curfews have always been a part of my daily life. Last year, Israel made my prison even smaller by barring me from leaving the West Bank for any reason. The Israeli authorities refused to give any justification for the ban beyond ‘security reasons’, and denied that the move has anything to do with my job as Amnesty International’s Israel/Palestine Campaigner. I learned about the ban in the worst possible way, when I was denied a permit to accompany my mother to her chemotherapy appointments in occupied East Jerusalem last September. While I was frantically reapplying for permits, my mother was getting sicker. I was only a 15-minute drive away from the hospital, but my desperation to be with my mother was no match for Israel’s rigid enforcement of the permit system. My mother passed away on Christmas Eve before I could ever see her again.”

Palestinians worry for livelihoods as COVID-19 cripples blockaded Gaza
+972 Magazine  •  28 May 2020

“For Palestinians in Gaza like Mousa, the coronavirus crisis has led to a steep deterioration in an already-low quality of life. And unfortunately, it is only expected to get worse…According to a Palestinian Federation of Industries (PFI) report on the pandemic’s impact on industry in Gaza, 641 out of 1,865 factories have closed down, and 12,555 workers have lost their jobs since March. Six of the 11 sectors mentioned in the report are suffering great losses, including in construction, aluminum, metal and engineering, solar energy, lumber, and leather.”

Largest Evangelical pro-Israel Summit to Be Held Virtually Days Before Netanyahu's Annexation Target Date
Haaretz  •  30 May 2020

“The largest annual gathering of evangelical Christian supporters of Israel will take place virtually in June, days before the July 1 date set by the Israeli to begin annexing parts of the West Bank. The annual conference of Christians United for Israel, which is usually held in Washington, will be a “virtual summit” this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. The organization, which represents millions of evangelical supporters of Israel, released a video on Saturday promoting its virtual gathering, scheduled for late June. The most senior Trump administration official currently listed as a speaker at the summit is David Friedman, Trump’s ambassador to Israel. Other senior administration officials are also expected to speak.”


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