Palestine Update 348
Corona brings worse news in Gaza – Israel adds to Gaza’s woes
Gaza has had enough bad news even before the Coronoa Virus broke out. But while it struggles to cope with this additional burden, Israel has battered Gaza with more bombs to kill even more innocent people. Those who know that Gaza has paid a price too high offer will certainly send its worst curses to protest Israel’s annoyances. Israel will pay one day for its criminalities many times over. God can’t be ever-forgiving to such a cruel nation of plunderers and murderers. Gaza’s suffering is compounded by its shattered infrastructure, its economic woes, its lack of access to the world outside, and the lock down.
We end this edition with a story of hope. The people of Gaza always shock and surprise the world with their never-say-die spirit. When things went too far, a 30-year-old Palestinian shoemaker from Hebron decided to transform his shoe factory into the only manufacturer of face masks in the occupied West Bank. Read this story and the other horror stories. Pleae read and disseminate.
Israel pummels Gaza Strip as it struggles to battle pandemic
Israeli armed forces claimed that the aerial assault was a response for missiles being fired into the south of the country
ISRAEL pummeled the besieged Gaza Strip on Saturday, its bombs targeting a number of locations in the Palestinian territory, which is struggling to deal with a deadly outbreak of coronavirus. Warplanes fired missiles which struck areas north-west of Gaza City and east of the town of Jabalya. Artillery shells also hit a spot east of the city, causing damage to infrastructure. No injuries were reported. The Israeli armed forces claimed that the aerial assault was a response for missiles being fired into the south of the country, the stock response used to justify such an attack. None of the Palestinian resistance factions claimed responsibility for the alleged rocket attack on Israel.In a further operation, the Israeli navy opened fire on a Palestinian fisherman off the coast of Gaza City. The Palestinian fishing industry has suffered huge losses as fishermen are frequently targeted by Israeli gunboats and are denied access to the sea. Gaza has been subjected to a cruel 12-year blockade by Israel. Half of the Palestinian territory’s population of two million — confined to a space of just 365 square kilometres – live in poverty, 97 per cent of water is undrinkable and its health system is in
crisis. Medics have warned of an impending catastrophe after Covid-19 was reported in the Gaza Strip last week.
Israeli military confiscates Palestinian field clinic for virus victims –
Thursday, 26 March 2020, at around 7:30 am, officials from Israel’s Civil Administration in the West Bank arrived with a military jeep escort, a bulldozer and two flatbed trucks with cranes at the Palestinian community of Khirbet Ibziq in the northern Jordan Valley. They confiscated poles and sheeting that were meant to form eight tents, two for a field clinic, and four for emergency housing for residents evacuated from their homes, and two as makeshift mosques. The force also confiscated a tin shack in place for more than two years, as well as a power generator and sacks of sand and cement. Four pallets of cinder blocks intended for the tent floors were taken away and four others demolished.
As the whole world battles an unprecedented and paralyzing healthcare crisis, Israel’s military is devoting time and resources to harassing the most vulnerable Palestinian communities in the West Bank that Israel has attempted to drive out of the area for decades. Shutting down a first-aid community initiative during a health crisis is an especially cruel example of the regular abuse inflicted on these communities, and it goes against basic human and humanitarian principles during an emergency. Unlike Israel’s policies, this pandemic does not discriminate based on nationality, ethnicity or religion. It is high time the government and military acknowledged that now, of all times, Israel is responsible for the health and wellbeing of the five million Palestinians who live under its control in the Occupied Territories. In addition to the shocking destruction of the clinic under construction, the Civil Administration is continuing its demolition routine. Today, it demolished three seasonal homes of farmers who are residents of Jerusalem, in the village of ‘Ein a-Duyuk a-Tahta west of Jericho.
Read full report
Also see B’tselem report
Palestinian labourers fear loss of income as well as coronavirus
For Palestinians who work in Israel, COVID-19 threatens not only health but their means to provide for their families.
On March 12, Akram Abu Koueik, a 55-year-old father of eight, woke up at 2.30am as he does almost every weekday. He left his home near Ramallah and arrived at the Qalandia checkpoint just after 3am, hoping to beat the morning rush of Palestinians from the occupied West Bank who work in Israel. Akram has all the required paperwork for employment in Israel and has worked as an electrician for the same Israeli company for 30 years. His workday plus commute generally takes 16 hours, but aside from the occasional long queue if he is running late, he rarely runs into issues.Until that morning when, like thousands of other labourers from the occupied Palestinian territories over the age of 50, he learned that he would not be allowed to cross the checkpoint. There were already 100 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus, COVID-19, in Israel and 30 in the West Bank, mostly concentrated in Bethlehem. The city was locked down by Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA), which announced a state of emergency in the West Bank. With older workers most at risk from the newly declared pandemic, Israel was not letting them enter.
Palestinian Groups Cancel Mass Gaza Rallies over Coronavirus
Mass rallies planned for next week along the border with Israel have been cancelled amid concerns about the spread of the coronavirus in the Gaza Strip, organizers said on Saturday. The rallies were called for March 30 to mark the second anniversary of the so-called “Great March of Return” which had prompted weekly protests by Palestinians seeking to regain access to land, now in Israel, from which their ancestors were forced to flee during the country’s creation in 1948. “We call upon our people not to go to the Return encampments on March 30 and to stay home in order to maintain the safety of our people in the face of this lethal pandemic,” said Khaled al-Batsh, a senior member of the Islamic Jihad militant group. Instead, Batsh called upon Gazans to mark the day by raising Palestinian flags on their rooftops and burning Israeli ones. According to Gaza medical officials, 215 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli soldiers firing from the other side of the border during the protests, with another 8,000 suffering gunshot wounds. In the past few months, the weekly protests have been smaller.
Palestinian Shoemaker Starts West Bank’s Mask Factory Overnight
As soon as Amjad Zaghir got word of the COVID-19 outbreak in Bethlehem, the 30-year-old Palestinian shoemaker from Hebron decided to transform his shoe factory into the only manufacturer of face masks in the occupied West Bank, as +972 Magazine reported Monday. “I approached my friend, a pharmacist, and asked him what materials are used to make masks,” recalled Zaghir. “He explained that what we use in shoemaking is unsuitable, and pointed me in the right direction.” The Palestinian businessman bought the correct fabric from a local vendor and began experimenting with his machinery. At first, the transition from shoes to face masks was challenging but Zaghir quickly adapted a new process to produce the delicate and essential protective gear.