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March 2020

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


Schools in West Bank Settlement Defy Closure Order for Israel's Coronavirus

Hot Spots
Haaretz  •  1 September 2020

“Ultra-Orthodox girls’ schools in the West Bank settlement of Betar Ilit opened Tuesday, flouting government orders for schools in communities with high rates of coronavirus infections to remain closed. The coronavirus cabinet issued a directive early Tuesday morning under which schools in “red cities” would not reopen September 1. Betar Ilit’s education system is operated by private associations but it must comply with Israeli government directives…A source in Betar Ilit told Haaretz that the Education Ministry never told the town not to open schools. “You’d have to actively go and check to find that the city was rated red,” said the source. The ministry said in response that it wasn’t its job to inform cities of their virus status.”

Israel Exceeds 3,000 New Coronavirus Cases in 24 Hours
Ynet News  •  3 Sept 2020

Israel saw a record-breaking 3,074 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, the Health Ministry said, with a 9.4% positivity rate out of the 32,700 tests conducted. There are currently 834 people hospitalized for treatment of COVID-19. Of that number, 426 are in serious condition, including 124 patients on ventilators. Since the start of the pandemic, 969 Israelis have succumbed to the virus out of the 122,539 infected. More than 100,000 of those cases have been diagnosed since June. Since February, one in every 75 people in Israel was confirmed to have COVID-19. Coronavirus czar Prof. Ronni Gamzu visited the northern city of Tiberias, which has been designated a "red" zone because of a continued rise in cases. He told local leaders that their city is showing a 14% positivity rate and rebuked them for a lack of adherence to health directives.

Lockdowns on 30 Cities Hard Hit by Coronavirus
Jerusalem Post  •  3 September 2020

The coronavirus cabinet, which leads Israel's response to the pandemic, decided to impose lockdowns on 30 localities with high COVID-19 infection rates. Under these new measures, residents will be prohibited from venturing more than 500 meters away from home except for the supply of food, medicine, and other essential house maintenance needs; all "non-essential" businesses will be shuttered; educational institutions will be closed except for kindergartens and special education; and travel to, within, and from the cities, and even certain neighborhoods will be restricted. The restrictions are set to come into effect on Monday and ministers are expected to finalize the list of localities that will be placed under lockdown by Sunday. Restrictions will be in effect for a week and might be extended upon reassessment.

Gamzu says 'Israel is at war', tough decisions afoot as virus spreads
Ynet News  •  3 Sept 2020

Coronavirus czar sends resolute message to Israelis as COVID-19 cases skyrocket, says there's 'probable chance' Israel will be placed under lockdown during High Holidays later in the month. Prof. Ronni Gamzu said on Thursday that the country is "at war" and that the government is expected to use far-reaching measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 as the country's infection rate continues to soar.

Gaza Strip records 98 new coronavirus cases
YNet  •  3 September 2020

“The Gaza Strip on Thursday recorded 98 new coronavirus cases, raising the number of active infections detected outside quarantine centers to 463, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry.”

Efrat council head: Coronavirus regulations don't automatically apply to us
Arutz Sheva  •  3 September 2020

“Head of the Efrat Regional Council Oded Revivi has revealed that a document issued by the government’s coronavirus cabinet regarding implementation of its decisions does not relate to the communities of Judea and Samaria. ‘The fact that there are no up-to-date statistics on the situation in our communities – that half million people are dealt with via general military order – should be a wake-up call to the government,’ he said. ‘The time has come to make the decision that Israeli law should automatically apply to Judea and Samaria.’”

Ministers appprove lockdowns on 30 cities hard hit by coronavirus

Ynet  •  3 September 2020

“The so-called coronavirus cabinet, which leads Israel’s response to the pandemic, decided on Thursday to impose lockdowns on 30 localities with high COVID-19 infection rates. Under these new measures, residents will be prohibited from venturing more than 500 meters (1600 feet) away from home except for the supply of food, medicine, and other essential house maintenance needs; all “non-essential” businesses will be shuttered; educational institutions will be closed except for kindergartens and special education; and travel to, within, and from the cities, and even certain neighborhoods will be restricted.”

Mayors Reluctantly Agree on Lockdown as Arab Cities Top List of Israel's Hot Spots
Haaretz  •  3 September 2020

“Arab mayors were largely but far from unanimously supportive of the government’s decision on Thursday to impose lockdowns on towns with a high incidence of the coronavirus. Twenty-two of the 30 locales on the government list of these so-called “red cities” are Arab, including the top seven. “No mayor wants a lockdown, given the social and economic implications,” said Arara Mayor Mudar Yunis, who also chairs the council of Arab mayors. “But on the other hand, we can’t accept this level of illness. It’s intolerable, and it’s becoming very dangerous. Consequently, I personally, like many of my colleagues, support the restrictions.””

Coronavirus is turning Gaza’s nights even darker
+972 Magazine  •  3 September 2020

“The wider, popular reaction in Gaza to the ceasefire agreement has been tepid. Although people are glad for a respite from the bombings, they are consumed by fear of the virus outbreak. They are demanding serious solutions that, at the very least, make their lockdown easier, and have grown tired of the political games played by their leadership and Israel.”

Permission to Narrate a Pandemic In Palestine
Middle East Policy Council  •  Summer 2020

“The extension of academic censorship on Palestine to the medical world is, despite its pervasiveness, relatively unknown. In the latest iteration, a letter highlighting the Gaza Strip’s vulnerability to the Covid-19 pandemic was removed from The Lancet’s website after a swift pressure campaign. While the immediate effects were minimal—despite its short shelf-life, the piece is among the top 5% most discussed research publications—the chilling effect of such campaigns on writers and editors is profound and enduring. This commentary outlines the struggle to make space for discussion and academic inquiry into the health impacts of the ongoing suffering inflicted on the Palestinian people.”

Palestine records 806 confirmed coronavirus cases, three fatalities
WAFA  •  4 September 2020

“Palestine today recorded 806 new novel coronavirus cases and three fatalities in the last 24 hours. Health Minister Mai al-Kaileh announced in a press statement that 806 Palestinians contracted the highly contagious virus and three other died of it in the occupied territories in the last 24 hours. Among the 806 cases, 220 cases were recorded in Hebron district, 27 others in Nablus, 48 others in Bethlehem, 38 others in Qalqilia, 92 others in Ramallah and al-Bireh, four others in Jenin, 21 others in Jericho and the Jordan Valley, 18 others in Salfit, nine others in Tubas, 16 others in Tulkarem, 116 others in Gaza and 197 in Jerusalem.”

 Coronavirus Israel Live: Gaza Renews Lockdown as Officials Warn of Virus Spreading Across Strip
Haaretz  •  6 September 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 23,698 active cases; 969 people have died. In the West Bank, there are 9,109 active cases; 175 people have died. In the Gaza Strip, there are 500 active cases and five people have died.”

Despite COVID-19 Travel Ban, Israel Lets in 70 Evangelicals to Volunteer in Settlements
Haaretz  •  8 September 2020

“Although Israel’s borders have been largely closed to non-citizens since the coronavirus outbreak, volunteers from a Christian evangelical organization have obtained special government permission to enter the country in order to help with the grape harvest on West Bank settlements. Roughly 70 volunteers from Hayovel, an organization headquartered in Missouri, have been awarded visas so that they can travel to Israel and pick grapes for settler-owned wineries. The grape harvest season typically runs from August through October.”

Despite Resistance, Nightly Curfew in 40 Israeli Coronavirus Hot Spots

Goes Into Effect
Haaretz  • 8 September 2020

“A nightly curfew on 40 towns and neighborhoods across Israel began Tuesday, in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus in hardest hit localities. The curfew, which will last until September 15, takes effect daily from 7 P.M. until 5 A.M. During curfews, residents will be able to walk up to 500 meters (0.3 miles) from their homes, and all businesses that are not essential will be closed. In addition, the education system in these localities will shift to distance learning, except special education. Gatherings in closed spaces will also be to be limited to up to 10 people, and up to 20 in open areas.”

Coronavirus pummels already crippled Palestinian economy: UN
Al Jazeera  •  8 September 2020

“Socioeconomic conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory are growing more dire, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) warned on Tuesday, as the financial fallout of the coronavirus pandemic compounds an already bleak economic landscape. “

Coronavirus-infected Israel, on brink of anarchy
Al-Monitor  •  8 September 2020

“Israel is clearly on the brink of anarchy. In addition to Liberman’s call for civil disobedience, the head of the opposition Yamina party, Naftali Bennett, has also expressed particularly lethal criticism of Netanyahu in recent days. The prevailing sense is of a loss of government control given the inability to agree on solutions, implement them and mobilize the public’s support.”

Netanyahu Seeks Full Lockdown, After He's Back From UAE Deal Ceremony in D.C.
Haaretz  •  9 September 2020

“Members of the coronavirus cabinet believe Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seeks to impose a nationwide lockdown of limited duration toward the end of this month. A power struggle is shaping up within the cabinet that was formed to handle the pandemic, with members from Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s Kahol Lavan working to reduce the likelihood of having to announce a full closure.”

Health Ministry said to seek immediate, month-long nationwide lockdown
The Times of Israel  •  9 September 2020

“Israel could soon be returning to a full national lockdown for more than a month amid skyrocketing coronavirus infection rates, according to reports citing comments made Tuesday night in a videoconference with top Health Ministry officials and hospital chiefs. Health Ministry Director-General Chezy Levy said in the call that if a lockdown is approved, it will last for at least a month due to the current high morbidity rate, according to leaks from the call carried by Channel 12 and Ynet.”

Gaza’s New Coronavirus Fears
Crisis Group  •  9 September 2020

“A cluster of coronavirus cases indicates that community transmission is occurring in the Gaza Strip. Israel should relax its blockade to permit entry of medical equipment and exit of seriously ill patients. Donors should respond quickly to requests for aid.”
What’s new? After months during which authorities halted COVID-19’s spread with rigorous quarantine measures, the virus appears to have taken root in the Gaza Strip. Dozens of new cases are being diagnosed every day.
Why does it matter? A major outbreak in Gaza would likely be disastrous. Years of conflict and Israeli blockade have left the strip’s health care facilities in a parlous state. Enforcing lockdowns and social distancing is difficult in the densely populated enclave.
What should be done? Israel should take urgent steps to both allow Gaza to acquire the medical supplies it needs to deal with COVID-19 and let the strip’s residents who are seriously ill travel abroad to seek care. Donor countries should heed the calls of local and international organisations for financial and medical assistance.

Virus-battered Israel pays the price of Netanyahu’s endless election campaign
The Times of Israel  •  9 September 2020

“The system is frozen in place. Everyone smells a looming election, and it’s exceedingly hard to get anything done in the Knesset in its shadow. Elections overpower the senses and transform every decision and compromise of the sort required to produce a state budget into an unsanctionable risk. In Israel right now, they are overpowering the elected leadership’s capacity to effectively tackle a pandemic.”

12 Palestinian prisoners infected with coronavirus

Middle East Monitor  •  9 September 2020

“Twelve Palestinian prisoners have been officially diagnosed with the coronavirus in Israel’s Ofer Prison, reported Wafa news agency. According to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS), the infected detainees are in Section 14 of Ofer Israeli prison, with five testing positive yesterday evening and seven this morning. It also stated that a total of 27 detainees in various Israeli prisons have tested positive, in addition to two others who were officially diagnosed after being tested by the Palestinian Health Ministry immediately upon their release.”

Israel's home demolitions in West Bank spiked during pandemic: UN
Al Monitor  •  13 September 2020

“The number of Palestinian homes demolished by Israel in the West Bank has increased sharply in recent months and further exposed displaced residents to the coronavirus pandemic, the United Nations said on Friday. From March to August, 389 Palestinian-owned structures were razed, in what the the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said was the highest average destruction rate in four years. During that period, 442 Palestinians were made homeless, the agency said. In just the month of August, 205 people lost their homes, the highest displacement figure since January 2017.  The UN and human rights organizations say the policy amounts to collective punishment. According to OCHA, building permits are nearly impossible for Palestinains to obtain from Israel, describing the processing as ‘restrictive and discriminatory.’”

Gaza Strip records 100 new cases of coronavirus as health crisis deepens
YNet  •  13 September 2020

“The Gaza Strip on Sunday recorded 100 new cases of coronavirus, bringing the number of infections detected outside quarantine centers to 1,588, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry. The number of people infected with the coronavirus in the Palestinian territory has thus increased fifteen-fold in nearly three weeks, while 15 Gazans have died from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.”

Gaza records 2 deaths, 100 infections from coronavirus
Middle East Monitor  •  13 September 2020

Palestinian health authorities registered two fatalities and 100 infections from the coronavirus outbreak in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, Anadolu Agency reports.
In a statement, the Health Ministry said the territory’s tally rose to 1,819 confirmed cases, including 15 deaths, and 216 recoveries.
“The number of active cases in Gaza rose to 1,588,” the ministry said.
Reeling under a crippling Israeli blockade since 2007, the Gaza Strip suffers a severe shortage of medicines and medical supplies, in addition to daily electric outages.
The Hamas-led government imposed a lockdown in Gaza on Aug. 24 to help curb the outbreak in the blockaded enclave, although the authorities have recently eased the restrictions in some neighborhoods in the territory.

Palestine could return to full lockdown due to a surge in COVID-19 cases
WAFA  •  13 September 2020

“Ghassan Nemer, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, said today that the country could return to a full lockdown due to a surge in the daily coronavirus infections, resulting from the failure of the public to adhere to the safety protocols. He told official Voice of Palestine radio that Palestine was facing “horrifying figures” and that the High Emergency Committee is dealing with all possible scenarios, but said for the time being the Committee will only recommend stricter implementation and control of the safety protocols.”

Second wave of virus ravages Israel's Arab population
Al-Monitor  •  14 September 2020

In a conversation with Al-Monitor, the Ministry of Health’s spokesman for the Arab sector, Dr. Zahi Said, explained, “Unlike during the first wave, the current situation in the Arab population does not bode well. Some 40% of coronavirus patients who are hospitalized and 30% of newly infected patients come from the Arab community. After investigating the matter, we discovered that the main cause of infection is weddings, while in mosques and other houses of worship, we found that the people in charge have been following the rules and guidelines. The problem with weddings is that there is no one to take charge or assume responsibility, as they have been taking place in the yards of private homes instead of event halls. During the first wave, people obeyed the instructions to the letter. And it should be remembered that wedding season in Arab society lasts mainly from June to October, explaining the outbreak in the second wave.”

Daily infection rate surges to nearly 5,000 ahead of lockdown
The Times of Israel  •  15 September 2020

“The Health Ministry said Tuesday morning that the daily coronavirus infection rate had rocketed to nearly 5,000 a day earlier as the country prepared for the nationwide lockdown set to begin on Friday. According to the figures there were 4,973 positive tests for coronavirus the previous day, taking the number of confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic to 162,273.”

Gaza's 'quarantine within a quarantine' must end
Al Jazeera  •  15 September  2020

“Gaza is now in the grip of the coronavirus. The blockade preventing aid reaching the Strip must be dismantled.”
In late August, the coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, found a foothold in the Gaza Strip, one of the most densely populated territories in the World.
Since then, infections have spiked significantly, with nearly 1,000 new positive cases reported in the last two weeks alone.
Now, Gaza faces a health catastrophe that will be difficult to contain and mitigate without swift and significant aid.
The detection of community transmission in the Strip marked a grim turn in what had been a relatively successful prevention strategy. From the onset of the pandemic through much of August, fewer than 100 cases had been reported – all among travellers returning from Israel and Egypt and all of whom were systematically quarantined.
Gaza is particularly vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19. Its weak healthcare system barely serves the daily needs of the area’s nearly 2 million people and is not equipped to handle a pandemic that has overwhelmed even the most advanced healthcare systems in the world.

U.S. evangelicals get Israeli visas; Catholics want equal treatment
Catholic Herald  •  15 September 2020

“Catholic leaders in the Holy Land expressed astonishment that a large group of evangelical Christians from the U.S. received visas to come to Israel to help with the grape harvest in West Bank settlements, while Catholic institutions have not been able to obtain Israeli visas for their volunteers and staff members because of the COVID-19 pandemic. ‘The refusal to grant visas is jeopardizing the work of the Christian communities, especially the institutions that serve the neediest,’ they said in a Sept. 10 statement."

COVID-19 in Palestine: A Pandemic in the Face of "Settler Colonial Erasure"
Istituto Affari Internazionali  •  September 2020

“The pandemic is clearly not serving as a great equaliser around the world; rather, it is shining a spotlight on structures of power and oppression that privilege the health of some over others. This is certainly the case for Palestinians, whereby Israel’s settler colonial regime has directly impacted their health and access to healthcare. This treatment of Palestinians exemplifies the relationship between the settler and the indigenous population, whereby the former’s life is prioritised over the latter. The systemisation of this prioritisation over many decades has rendered Palestinians vulnerable and more susceptible to the virus. Indeed, the pandemic adds yet another layer of precarity to their already insecure lives as a result of the continuous violence by the Israeli regime. It can therefore be concluded that Israel is not only exacerbating the conditions that make Palestinians more susceptible to infection but is also directly responsible for them, rendering the Israeli regime one of comorbidity…”

Islamic Waqf appears to reverse Temple Mount closure during lockdown
i24 News  •  16 September 2020

“The Islamic Waqf – the Jordanian religious authority that oversees the Temple Mount – on Wednesday ordered the site closed from Friday, in line with Israel’s renewed lockdown to attempt to arrest an alarming uptick in coronavirus cases. However, despite the spike in cases in both Israel and Palestinian controlled areas, the Waqf seemed to roll back its decision amid apparent controversy over whether Jews would be permitted to visit even during lockdown. The Waqf made its original decision after an emergency meeting with health officials, in which it decided to suspend entry to worshipers to the compound that houses the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque. ‘We hope that citizens will understand this procedure, in order to preserve their health and well-being,’ Waqf member Hatem Abdel Qader told AFP early in the afternoon. However, within a few hours, unnamed Waqf officials told Palestinian Authority outlet WAFA news agency, ‘after we realized that the occupation authorities intended to open the Mughrabi Gate during the lockdown so that settlers could storm the mosque, we decided to keep the doors of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque open.’”

Israel’s 2nd sweeping virus lockdown begins, hours before Jewish New Year
Times of Israel  •  18 September 2020

“Israel’s new national coronavirus lockdown, the country’s second this year, entered into effect Friday at 2 p.m., marking the first time in the world an advanced country has imposed a repeat closure to curb the pandemic. The three-week shutdown, requiring the closure of many businesses and setting strict limits on movement and public gatherings, starts just hours before Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, and will extend through other key religious holidays, including Yom Kippur and Sukkot. Some 7,000 policemen and soldiers, backed up by local municipality personnel, were to deploy throughout the country to enforce the closure using roadblocks and patrols, amid concerns that an exhausted and exasperated Israeli public will be far less cooperative with the new sweeping restrictions than during the initial wave of the pandemic.”

How Politics Are Compounding Israel’s COVID-19 Crisis
Foreign Policy  •  18 September 2020

“The story of an embattled political leader facing deep social divisions in his country and allowing political interests to steer his handling of the coronavirus crisis sounds like a uniquely American one. But these days it’s also the story of Israel, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has imposed a second nationwide lockdown to halt a spiraling infection rate, even as he rejected the opinions of experts and succumbed to assorted pressures from ultra-Orthodox groups that give him his governing majority in parliament.”

The United Nations Was Right – Gaza Is Unlivable

Haaretz  •  20 September 2020

“Everyone knows the numbers and figures. The unemployment rate is known, as is the poverty rate. And it’s no secret that we’re losing hope. Unless the blockade is lifted, until people are permitted to freely enter and leave Gaza to trade, study and be with their families, until the infrastructure is repaired and people can live normally, life here will keep deteriorating. The latest escalation subsided after Qatar’s intervention, but it’s obviously only a lull until the next round of violence. Nothing has changed. And now there is a worldwide health and economic crisis that even affluent countries are staggering under. While other countries are struggling to thrive, in Gaza the best we can hope for is to survive. We again recall the UN report that aimed to enlist the world’s assistance – the report that predicted that Gaza would be unlivable by 2020. That prediction has come true.”

In Israel’s First Hospital to Turn Away Coronavirus Patients,
a Stark Warning of Collapse

Haaretz  •  20 September 2020

“On Monday, the hospital’s director, Prof. Masad Barhoum, announced that he had ordered the institution to stop accepting any more coronavirus patients. The main reason he cited was overcrowding in the hospital’s three coronavirus wards, but there’s another issue that has to do with the number of trained staff members who can treat patients in serious condition.”

Two Netanyahu Aides Violate post-D.C. Trip Quarantine

Haaretz  •  21 September 2020

“The Health Ministry announced on Thursday that all members of the Washington delegation, without exception, were required to quarantine until Monday, a five-day quarantine rather than the typical 14-day span….Following the Haaretz reports of quarantine violations by Netanyahu aides, Meretz Chairman Nitzan Horowitz sent an urgent query to Public Security Minister Amir Ohana, of Likud, regarding the lack of enforcement for quarantine orders among Netanyahu’s Washington delegation, who he said “knowingly endangered the public’s health, but nothing has been done about it.”

Virus czar orders hospitals to open new COVID wards,

warns of 600 deaths monthly
The Times of Israel  •  20 September 2020

“Israel’s coronavirus czar warned Sunday that virus numbers were reaching “emergency” levels that could see the country face 600 deaths a month, and ordered hospitals to add new virus wards. Prof. Ronni Gamzu said in an interview with Channel 12 news that he fears the number of COVID-19 patients in serious condition could reach 800 by the end of the week, a number that has been frequently cited as the maximum Israeli hospitals can cope with.”

A glimpse into the chaos’: How Israel’s COVID-19 policy neglects

Palestinian citizens
+972 Magazine  •  21 September 2020

“In mere weeks of the second wave gripping the country, Palestinian citizens went from constituting 10 percent of patients who tested positive to the virus, to 30 percent — and the curve is rising sharply. The English Hospital in Nazareth, which has traditionally treated mostly Palestinian citizens, has had to open another coronavirus clinic. The map of the outbreak is increasingly falling along ethnic, national, and geographic lines — just as poverty and crime have long been. Will we, Palestinian citizens, become Israel’s backyard for the coronavirus as well, such that the hardships we endure will barely matter to the country?”

Coronavirus Cabinet fails to reach an agreement on further restrictions

Ynet  •  22 September 2020

“The so-called Coronavirus Cabinet, which leads the government’s response to the pandemic, failed on Tuesday to reach a decision on further restrictions on Israeli society and economy in a bid to rein in the spread of the pathogen. The Cabinet concluded the meeting after nine-hours-long deliberations that centered chiefly on whether to impose restrictions on protests against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that have been taking place outside of his Jerusalem residence while disregarding coronavirus regulations.”

Israeli Coronavirus Patients Wait Hours in Ambulances as Hospitals Fill Up

Haaretz  •  22 September 2020

“Although a system had been devised to divide patients among hospitals in order to spread the burden more evenly, that system has been failing in the wake of the sharp increase in patients. “The idea of distributing patients has become almost irrelevant,” said Dr. Rafael Strugo, medical director of Magen David Adom emergency service. “Recently we’re seeing more and more cases in which we are referred to a particular hospital, and on the way there we get a message: ‘No, don’t come to us, we have no room.’ They’re in distress,” said Strugo. “It has reached the situation that in some hospitals, security guards have been deployed to prevent the entry of ambulances with patients suspected of having COVID,” said a Magen David Adom official.”

Palestinians face constant COVID-19 testing shortage

Mondoweiss  •  22 September 2020

“As the coronavirus continues to spread across the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), local news this week was inundated with warnings of testing kit shortages in the West Bank and Gaza, the latter of which has seen a worrying spike in cases recently. The Palestinian Minister of Health Mai al-Kalia told the Voice of Palestine radio on Tuesday that Israel “obstructed” the entry of 100,000 COVID-19 testing swabs that were destined for the West Bank in coordination with the United Nations (UN).  As a result, she said, the MOH will only have enough swabs to last them for three days, after which time the West Bank would run out of the testing kits. “

Israel reports highest ever daily spike in coronavirus infections

Al Jazeera  •  23 September 2020

“Several days after the start of a second nationwide lockdown in Israel, the number of coronavirus infections has reached a new record high with nearly 7,000 cases. According to the health ministry’s statement on Wednesday, 6,923 new patients were recorded the day before. The previous record was reached last week, when 5,533 new cases were confirmed on a single day. Israel, a country of some nine million people, now has one of the world’s highest rates of coronavirus on a per capita basis, and health officials say hospitals are quickly approaching capacity. There were 61,165 tests conducted on Tuesday, meaning that 11.7 percent of the tests were positive, slightly higher than the previous day. The health ministry has instructed hospitals to delay non-essential surgeries and to open additional coronavirus wards as the number of serious cases continues to rise. The government last week imposed a nationwide lockdown that closed schools, shopping centres, hotels and restaurants. The cabinet is set to meet later on Wednesday to discuss further tightening restrictions.”

Netanyahu pushing for immediate imposition of tighter lockdown

Arutz Sheva  •  23 September 2020

“Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has called for the immediate imposition of greater restrictions on the Israeli economy and on public activity, and will press the Coronavirus Cabinet to approve a plan significantly tightening Israel’s ongoing lockdown. Netanyahu said Wednesday that Israel is facing a national health emergency, and that he intends to push the government to back a string of new rules clamping down on public activity during the lockdown.”

Israeli-Arab town operates its own anti-corona plan

Al-Monitor  •  24 September 2020

“But while Israel’s prime minister is busy stopping protests against him even at the economic price of a full lockdown and stopping all commercial activity, some cities have taken their own measures and decided to fight the virus that causes COVID-19 within the city bounds instead of waiting for the state. One of the cities that has excelled at this task is Kafr Qasim. Shortly after his nomination, coronavirus tzar Ronni Gamzu decided on a “traffic light plan,” categorizing Israeli towns and villages into red, orange, yellow and green, according to the rate of infection. Kafr Qasim was declared last month a “red city,” but today it is already designated a yellow city, and the mayor hopes that it will turn green in a week. This success story even won praise and a visit from former Minister of Defense and current Yamina party leader Naftali Bennett, for whom the fight against COVID-19 in Israel has become a goal on the way to the next election, as today he has 21 mandates according to a Channel 12 poll.”

Israel Army Joins Coronavirus Fight, but It's an Uphill Battle

Haaretz  •  24 September 2020

“A senior General Staff officer told Haaretz that the army intends to have 2,500 investigators, most of them civilians, from the beginning of November, when the unit will be in full operation. Recently, the army has started to set up, within this framework, a unit of 600 regular soldiers who will serve as investigators. These are soldiers with relatively high personal profiles who will come from various sections of the army and be assigned to epidemiological investigations for a year. The unit is headed by a female officer with the rank of lieutenant colonel. The General Staff admits that at the present morbidity rate, of between 5,000 and 7,000 new carriers a day, it is impossible to maintain an effective investigative system, because there is no way to complete all the investigations in time. The goal is to reduce the number to about 1,000 a day by the end of the lockdown, a level seen as controllable. In practice, that number appears to be a very difficult, almost unrealistic, goal to achieve. The coronavirus is spreading extensively, and the high number of tests – close to 60,000 a day – will lead to the confirmation of a large number of carriers for a lengthy period. On the other hand, the longer the lockdown lasts, the greater the economic damage will be and the more pressure the public will exert on the government to free up the economy."

Stricter lockdowns in Israel met by anti-Netanyahu protests

Mondoweiss  •  25 September 2020

The Latest:
    •    217,899 tested positive for COVID-19 in Israel; 1,412 deaths
    •    48,282 Palestinians tested positive for COVID-19; 327 Palestinian deaths
    •    Breakdown of Palestinian cases: 35,305 in the West Bank; 10,319 in East Jerusalem; 2,658 in Gaza
    •    86% increase in the new cases per day over the last month in Gaza this month
    •    Israel’s hospitals are overwhelmed, patients wait hours in ambulances for beds

In last week’s newsletter we focused on Israel’s return to lockdown, a three-week closure ordered by health officials and backed by the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office. This week those measures are tightening and will go into effect today.
The new regulations shut down all non-essential businesses and limit prayer groups just before the Yom Kippur holiday that begins Sunday night. Depending on the severity of the virus in the city, Israelis will be limited to praying in “capsules” of up to 20 people outdoors, with space between each group of people who do not live together. Indoor prayers are allowed, and the number of people allowed is determined by a complex system of space, local infection rates, and the number of doors on the synagogue. Under the most restrictive circumstances, only ten will be allowed inside a synagogue.

Netanyahu Seeks Emergency Powers to Quash Protests Under
Coronavirus Regulations

Haaretz  •  25 September 2020

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seeking emergency powers Friday in order to enact restrictions that would prevent Saturday’s protests against the prime minister in Jerusalem under the coronavirus regulations.”

COVID-19 In Palestine: Economy Under Pressure
Mondoweiss  •  28 September 2020

This is the fourth episode in a five-part series produced by Mondoweiss on COVID-19 in Palestine. The series explores how the virus is affecting the social, economic, and political situation in the occupied territory, where Palestinians are living under both a global pandemic, and the Israeli occupation. You can view the entire series here –
If you were to walk right now into the Church of Nativity in the city of Bethlehem, you would find it completely empty: a rare sight for one of the most religiously significant and historical places in the world.
So why is the birthplace of Jesus completely empty? In short, the answer is COVID-19.
Like the rest of the world, Palestine has been hit hard with the coronavirus pandemic, and is still struggling to flatten the curve.
But the city of Bethlehem in particular has perhaps been impacted the most by the pandemic.

As Israel’s COVID-19 crisis swells, Palestine reports 80% recovery rate

Mondoweiss  •  29 September 2020

While the rate of COVID-19 infections in Israel has skyrocketed in the last week, Palestinian health officials are reporting more promising numbers, with the Ministry of Health reporting an 80% recovery rate among COVID-19 patients in Gaza, the occupied West Bank, and East Jerusalem.
According to Israeli health officials, Israel currently has over 65,000 active cases of the virus, while numbers collected from the Palestinian Ministry of Health indicated that there were 9,542 active cases in the oPt.
Israel reinstated a full coronavirus lockdown on Friday, one of the few countries in the world to do so following initial lockdowns in the spring of this year.
Last week, Israel reported over 8,000 new cases of the virus in a single day, a record for the country, whose COVID-19 mortality rate per capita surpassed that of the United States on Tuesday.

Israel Passes Law Limiting Protests Under Lockdown

Ha'aretz  •  29 September 2020

The Knesset passed an amendment to the government’s coronavirus law early Wednesday morning that would bar protesters from traveling more than a kilometer (0.6 miles) from their homes to attend a demonstration…Along with the law, a “special state of emergency” was declared, which the ministerial cabinet will need to ratify three times each week. The declaration and its extension will be brought to the constitution committee, which will be able to overturn the state of emergency retroactively…A special state of emergency does not allow the government to completely ban prayer, protests or religious ceremonies, but will be able to limit the number of participants in such gatherings. In addition, it will allow the government to limit protesters from demonstrating beyond the designated radius from their home, at the moment set to one kilometer (0.6 miles).

A Body Blow to Democracy

Ha'aretz  •  29 September 2020

The Knesset debated Tuesday an amendment to the law defining the government’s authorities in handling the coronavirus pandemic, a change that would render impotent the two main factors determining the force of a protest in a democracy: the number of people taking part and the location. This is a measure that is unprecedented in the history of Israel…It’s important to be precise: In practice, this legislation does not limit demonstrations, it bans them. The proposed restrictions are so draconian that they amount to a prohibition. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is attempting, in the most cynical fashion, to exploit the coronavirus and the restrictions needed to fight its spread in order to undermine fundamental democratic rights and to suppress the dissent against him and his incorrigible government.

Erosion of Democratic Norms
Israel Passes Law Limiting Protests Under Lockdown
Ha'aretz  •  29 September 2020

The Knesset passed an amendment to the government’s coronavirus law early Wednesday morning that would bar protesters from traveling more than a kilometer (0.6 miles) from their homes to attend a demonstration…Along with the law, a “special state of emergency” was declared, which the ministerial cabinet will need to ratify three times each week. The declaration and its extension will be brought to the constitution committee, which will be able to overturn the state of emergency retroactively…A special state of emergency does not allow the government to completely ban prayer, protests or religious ceremonies, but will be able to limit the number of participants in such gatherings. In addition, it will allow the government to limit protesters from demonstrating beyond the designated radius from their home, at the moment set to one kilometer (0.6 miles).

The disease Netanyahu fears isn’t covid-19. It’s dissent.

Washington Post  •  30 September 2020

Two factors have driven Netanyahu’s policy prescriptions since the pandemic began. One factor has been suppressing covid-19. The stronger motivation appears to be suppressing threats to Netanyahu’s hold on power.


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