Palestine Update 357
Covid 19 and Apartheid double up
In Occupied Palestine, the Covid-19 pandemic has already hit the various fragmented Palestinian communities, each of which displays a fragile health system lacking integration into a national whole. At the same time, it is documented that Palestinian Jerusalemites and 1948 Palestinians, who are served by the Israeli health system, have long been suffering from inequalities in health provision. These inequities have already impacted chronic diseases, life expectancy, and mortality rates. The response of the Israeli health system to Covid-19 has widened the gap between the 80 % Jewish majority and the 20 % Palestinian minority that are served by the same system. In spite of the fact that the Palestinian minority is overrepresented as health workers within the Israeli health system, their communities have been widely underserved during this pandemic. The provision of educational materials in the Arabic language was late in arriving, accessibility to Covid-19 stations in Arab towns has been difficult, there was an absence of Arab representation in the Emergency Health Committee, and there has been a huge gap in testing.
Spitting at someone is a universal insult. In Israel, however, spitting at Palestinians is an entirely different story. Now that we know that the deadly coronavirus can be transmitted through saliva droplets, Israeli soldiers and illegal Jewish settlers are working extra hard to spit at as many Palestinians, their cars, doorknobs, and so on, as possible. If this sounds to you too surreal and repugnant, then you might not be as familiar with the particular breed of Israeli colonialism as you may think you are.
In all fairness, Israelis have been spitting at Palestinians well before the World Health Organization (WHO) lectured us on the elusive nature of the Covid-19 disease and on the critical need to apply ‘social distancing’. Indeed, if you Google the phrase ‘Israeli spitting’, you will be inundated with many interesting search results, the like of “Jerusalem Judge to Jews: Don’t Spit On Christians”, “Christians in Jerusalem want Jews to Stop Spitting on Them”, and the more recent, “Israel Settlers Spitting on Palestinian Cars Raises Concern over Attempt to Spread Coronavirus”.
Interestingly, most of this coverage throughout the years has been carried out by Israel’s own media, while receiving little attention in Western mainstream media. One could easily classify such degrading acts as yet another example of the Israelis’ false sense of superiority over Palestinians. But the deliberate attempt at infecting occupied Palestinians with the coronavirus is beneath contempt, even for a settler-colonial regime.
Two particular elements in this story require a pause: First, that acts of spitting at Palestinians and their properties, by both occupation soldiers and settlers, have been widely reported in many parts of occupied Palestine. This means that, within a matter of days, the Israeli army and settlers’ cultures so swiftly adapted their pre-existing racism to employ a deadly virus as the latest tool in subjugating and harming Palestinians, whether physically or symbolically.
Second, the degree of ignorance and buffoonery that accompany these racist and degrading acts. The power paradigm that has governed the relationship between colonial Israel and colonized Palestinians has, thus far, followed a typical trajectory, where Israel’s bad deeds often go unpunished. Those racist Israelis who are deliberately trying to infect Palestinians with the Covid-19 are not only criminal in their thinking and behavior, but utterly foolish as well.
Read more in The News.com
Triple Jeopardy for Palestinian Prisoners at a time of Pandemic
Excerpts—By Richard Falk
This metaphor for layers of unjust suffering pertains to the abuse of Palestinian prisoners in the context of the health dangers associated with the COVID-19 challenge. Such dangers were present for Palestinians under pre-pandemic conditions, but greatly aggravated by Israeli failures to mitigate the additional and aggravated risks that come from keeping around 5,000 Palestinian prisoners in overcrowded prisons where some of the guards and security personnel had tested positive for the virus yet continue to interact with prisoners without even wearing prescribed personal protective gear (PPE), and where insufficient hospital and medical capabilities existed in the event that the disease started to spread.
This overall sub-par situation was further accentuated by 172 or so child prisoners, many elderly and disabled prisoners, and almost all inmates incarcerated for security offenses that should never have been criminalized as falling within the scope of a right of persons living under an apartheid regime, which is itself criminal, to exercise their right of resistance, at least within the limits of international law regulating violence by reference to the choice of targets. Israel has not accepted WHO guidelines or a variety of humanitarian to release at least ‘low-risk’ prisoners as well as those with ‘underlying conditions,’ children, and the elderly. Taking these considerations into account the ‘triple jeopardy’ framing seems justified underscoring the layers of injustice endured by Palestinian prisoners at this time. As the Palestinian writer Ramzy Baroud writes, “… all of Palestine has been in a state of ‘lockdown’ since the late 1940s when Israel became a state and the Palestinian homeland was erased by Zionist colonialists with the support of Western In effect, all Palestinians are enduring an unjust ‘imprisonment’ that has lasted for more than 71 years with no signs of abatement, and is itself a punishment for the ‘crime’ of existing western benefactors”.
On this basis, the criminalization of resistance, including nonviolent and symbolic forms, extending even to poems (for example, Dareen Tatour, and her crime, the poem “Resist, my people, resist them”, has resulted in harsh confinement in Israeli prisons, including reliance on such legally dubious mechanisms as ‘administrative detention’ (imprisoning without charges or any due process for extended periods) and the unlawful transfer of prisoners from detention in Occupied Palestine to Israeli prisons out of reach of family members). In effect, the imprisoning of Palestinians in Israeli jails is Double Jeopardy because it puts Palestinians already being punished by lockdown, displacement, and dispossession behind bars because they dared to resist.
The allegation of Triple Jeopardy arises from the failure to suspend or mitigate prison condition in light of the Coronavirus Pandemic, and the related failure to take responsible steps to protect those so confined from contracting the potentially lethal disease. A virtual death sentence hangs over every single Palestinian prisoner, and in an especially acute form with respect to particularly vulnerable Palestinians living in crowded unhealthy prisons.
World Bank warns of ten year low in donor funding to PA
Direct donor funding to the Palestinian Authority could drop to as low as $266 million this year, the lowest it has been in a decade, the World Bank warned on Monday. That figure does not include UN funding. It estimated a $1 billion deficit for the PA in 2020. The PA itself has estimated that the number could be as high as $1.4 billion. The Palestinian economy could contract by 2.5% to 7%, depending on the length of time the pandemic lasts, according to the World Bank. It noted in particular that the Palestinians would suffer from the loss of tourist revenues as well as restrictions on freedom of movement and the ability of Palestinians to work in Israel. There are 140,000 Palestinians who work in Israel and they account for a third of the private consumption. Already, private sector representatives have announced plans to cut pay in half.
It explained that the Palestinian economy was already in crisis prior to the outbreak, with only 0.9% growth in 2019. The unemployment rate in the West Bank and Gaza was at 25% with 24% of the Palestinians living on $5.5 a day or less. Out of those, 46% were in Gaza and 9% in the West Bank. The slowdown was driven by a decline in private and public consumption and in investment, the World Bank said.