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.”



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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:






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know that whatever you are able to give

will be greatly appreciated.

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United Methodists are responding to the urgent call from Palestinian Christians in
Kairos Palestine:  A Moment of Truth,  to end the Israeli occupation and achieve a just peace in the Holy Land.. UMKR seeks – through nonviolent action and in partnership with Christians in Palestine – freedom, justice, and equality for all Palestinians and Israelis.

UMKR needs your support for our work to continue

General Conference has been post-poned, but our justice legislation

is still vital and needs your support.

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​​​​​​News & Commentary
Israel/Palestine

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MAY 2020