Sunday, April 05, 2020 Last Update: 10:19 PM GMT

Tulkarm Refugee Camp under Full Lockdown as two Coronavirus Cases are Confirmed (VIDEO)

Palestinian refugee camp of Tulkarm. (Photo: File)

Governor of the northern West Bank district of Tulkarm, Issam Abu Bakr, ordered today a full lockdown on Tulkarm refugee camp after the first two cases of novel coronavirus were confirmed in the camp.

The two patients are two Palestinian men who had just returned to their homes from their workplace in Israel, where over 7,400 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed so far and more than 40 deaths.

Abu Bakr ordered the camp residents to stay home to prevent the spread of the pandemic, saying those who do not abide by the home quarantine will be held to account and placed under mandatory quarantine.

The governor called on residents to encourage their family members who return from Israel to report themselves to the health authorities in order to get tested for Covid19.

Several other villages and towns in the occupied West Bank where corona cases were confirmed have also been locked down as well over the past week.

The Ministry of Health has confirmed 205 cases of the disease in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with one death.

(WAFA, Palestine Chronicle, Social Media)

Rights Groups Call for Immediate Preventive Measures in Israeli Prisons

Israeli is using coronavirus as pretext to crack down on Palestinian prisoners. (Photo: via Twitter)

The Haifa-based Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel –  and the Ramallah-based Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association sent an urgent letter to the interim Israel Prison Service (IPS) Director Asher Va’aknin demanding immediate preventive measures to detect and prevent the spread of coronavirus at Ofer prison.

The Palestinian Commission for Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs reported on April 1 that Palestinian prisoner Nour Eddin Sarsour, released the day before from Israel’s Ofer prison, has tested positive for coronavirus.

The report from the Palestinian detainees’ commission is extremely worrisome and indicates the need for immediate measures to detect and isolate prisoners who had been in contact with the released individual who tested positive for coronavirus, the two rights organizations said in a joint press statement.

Sarsour had been housed in Wing 14 of Ofer prison, which is used for prisoners and detainees in transit to other prisons or detention centers. He had been in custody since March 18, almost two weeks before the virus was detected – and during its incubation period. There is a grave concern that he was infected in the Israeli prison.

Given this concern, Israeli prison authorities must take all measures to determine the source of the infection, and this must include testing all prisoners, guards, and other Israeli prison personnel for coronavirus.

On April 3, ten Palestinian political prisoners at Ofer Detention Centre, near Ramallah, launched an open-ended hunger strike to protest against the ongoing solitary confinement of two detainees, as well as against Israel’s failure to protect them against the coronavirus.

The Prisoners Commission lambasted the Israel Prison Services for not conducting tests on the prisoners before their release, holding it responsible for the life and health of the prisoners who were in contact with Sarsour before his release.

(Palestine Chronicle, WAFA, Social Media)

Economic Losses Due to Siege, Coronavirus Estimated at $200m in Gaza

Gaza on high alert following medical reports of the first coronavirus patients in the besieged Strip. (Photo: Fawzi Mahmoud)

The economic losses of the besieged Gaza Strip are estimated at $200 million due to the Israeli siege and the coronavirus, head of the Popular Committee Against Gaza Siege, MP Jamal Al-Khodari, revealed on Friday.

“These are the direct and indirect losses of the industrial, commercial, construction and tourism sectors,” Al-Khodari announced in a statement

He noted that almost all economic sectors are in recess now because of the coronavirus, adding to this the Israeli occupation siege and the shortage of cash.

“This situation increased the poverty rate,” noting that the Palestinians in Gaza had no savings prior to the outbreak of the pandemic due to the 14-year-long strict Israeli siege.

In order to help solve the problems in Gaza, Al-Khodari asserted that the international community must put pressure on Israel to lift its siege on Gaza and that there must be joint international, Islamic and Arabic relief efforts to meet Gaza’s medical, food and humanitarian needs.

Meanwhile, he called for the UN Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) to increase its food and medical aid.

Gaza, with a population of 2 million, has been under a hermetic Israeli siege since 2006, when the Palestinian group Hamas won the democratic legislative elections in occupied Palestine. Since then, Israel has carried out numerous bombing campaigns and several major wars, that resulted in the death of thousands of people. 

(Palestine Chronicle, MEMO, Social Media)

Israel Arrests Jerusalem Minister, Releases Him after Several Hours (VIDEO)

The Minister of Jerusalem Affairs, Fadi Hidmi. (Photo: File)

Israeli occupation forces on Friday evening released the Minister of Jerusalem Affairs, Fadi Hidmi, after detaining him for several hours at the Moroccan compound in occupied Jerusalem.

Hidmi was detained for allegedly violating an Israeli ban on Palestinian political activities in east Jerusalem.

Hidmi told reporters, following his release, that Israeli police and intelligence officers raided his home in the middle of the night and thoroughly searched it before detaining him.

Hidmi said that during his brief detention, interrogators questioned him about the Palestinian government’s aid provided to the Palestinian citizens of occupied East Jerusalem as part of the ongoing campaign against the coronavirus outbreak.

The minister added that the Palestinian government will continue to fulfill its responsibilities towards the indigenous Palestinian population of Jerusalem despite the ongoing Israeli crackdown on its work in the city.

It was the fourth time al-Hidmi has been arrested since assuming office in April 2019.

(WAFA, PC, Social Media)

Ten Palestinian Prisoners Launch Hunger Strike over Lack of Protective Measures

Ten Palestinian prisoners launched an hunger strike in protest against the lack of protective measures. (Photo: File)

Ten Palestinian political prisoners at Ofer Detention Centre, near Ramallah, launched an open-ended hunger strike to protest against the ongoing solitary confinement of two detainees, as well as against Israel’s failure to protect them against the coronavirus, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) announced yesterday.

More prisoners have vowed to join the hunger strike if the demands of Palestinian detainees remain unmet, PPS said.

Nineteen-year-old Palestinian, Nour Sarsour, from Beitunia near Ramallah, tested positive for coronavirus after his release from prison on Tuesday. The Israel Prison Service failed to test him for the virus and he may have infected other detainees.

On Tuesday, PPS raised its concerns for the wellbeing of the 5,000 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails saying they are not being protected against the spread of COVID-19.

On March 31, a 19-year-old Palestinian, who was released from Israeli detention, had tested positive for coronavirus.

The Prisoners Commission lambasted the Israel Prison Services for not conducting tests on the prisoners before their release, holding it responsible for the life and health of the prisoners who were in contact with Sarsour before his release.

(Palestine Chronicle, WAFA, Social Media)

Palestinian Shot by Israeli Forces near Nablus Succumbs to Wounds

Islam Dweikat (22) died of his wounds, three weeks after Israeli occupation forces shot him in the head with a rubber-coated metal bullet during a protest by Palestinians near Nablus. (Photo: via Twitter)

A young Palestinian has died from wounds sustained three weeks ago when Israeli military forces opened fire on hundreds of people protesting against encroaching illegal Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank.

The 22-year-old, identified on Wednesday as Islam Dweikat, was shot on March 11 along the outskirts of Nablus, according to the Palestinian health ministry. Wafa, the official Palestinian news agency, quoted a local official as saying he was shot by a rubber-coated bullet.

“Following his injury, Dweikat was moved to a couple of local hospitals, where he underwent several operations and stayed in a coma until he was pronounced dead this evening,” Wafa said.

Mohammed Hamayel, 15, was also killed after being shot in the face by Israeli live fire on March 11, the ministry said at the time. At least 18 other Palestinians were wounded.

On March 11, scores of Israeli military vehicles stormed the area of Mount Al-‘Arma, also known in Arabic as Jabal al-‘Arma, on the outskirts of Beita town, near Nablus, and assaulted Palestinians who gathered atop the mountain to fend off an Israeli settlers’ attempt to seize it.

The confrontation left 93 people injured by Israeli live fire and rubber bullets.

Jabal al-‘Arma, which spreads over 250 dunums, is one of the most archeological sites in Nablus, and the highest peak in Beita.

According to historians, it has been inhabited since the early Bronze Age, about 3,200 years ago.

Such features make the mountain a prime target for Jewish settlers as colonial settlements are often positioned above water reserves, effectively stealing water as well as land.

(Palestine Chronicle, AJE, Social Media)

US Petition Calls on Trump Administration to Support Palestinian Health Sector

Using humble means, a refugee worker sterilizes the streets in Al-Shati refugee camp. (Photo: Fawzi Mahmoud, The Palestine Chronicle)

Thousands of Americans have signed a petition through the US Congress official website to call on the administration of President Donald Trump to support the Palestinian health sector in its fight against the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Pro-Palestinian activists and Palestinian organizations in the United States have launched a campaign a few days ago.

Their aim is to collect 10,000 signatures to release previously approved $75 million in medical aid that was allocated by Congress for the fiscal year 2020 and which the US administration refuses to release.

The petition calls on the American administration to reconsider its policies related to stopping all aid to the Palestinians as well as its contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).

“The campaign aims to collect 10,000 signatures on the petition in order to move to the second phase, which has already started by working with members of Congress who support the Palestinian rights to get a legislative position,” Sinan Shaqdeh, one of the campaigners, told WAFA.

Shaqdeh added there are contacts with US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders to lead this effort in Congress.

On March 30, a group of Democratic senators led by Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to ensure the Gaza Strip and the West Bank receive any necessary aid to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

(Palestine Chronicle, WAFA, Social Media)

Irish Lawmaker Denounces Israeli Siege, Occupation with Coronavirus Pandemic

Gaza on high alert following medical reports of the first two coronavirus patients in the besieged Strip. (Photo: Fawzi Mahmoud)

Irish Sinn Fein Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA), Declan Kearney, denounced the ongoing Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip and its occupation of the West Bank as the Palestinian Authority battles the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, Covid19.

“It is an international scandal that the Palestinian people must simultaneously struggle against the unjust Israeli blockade of Gaza and occupation of the West Bank while also battling against the spread of Covid19,” he told the Palestinian ambassador in Ireland, Jilan Wahba.

Kearney said that the ambassador briefed him on the situation in the Palestinian territories as a result of the spread of Covid19, expressing particular concern for the health and wellbeing of over 5,000 political prisoners being held in Israeli prisons due to an outbreak of Covid19 among prison staff and the removal of cleaning products from prison canteens.

The ambassador asked for “the international community to intensify pressure upon the Israeli government to meet its international obligations and protect the health of the prisoners which it detains,” he said.

“I am now calling on the Irish government to use its influence to address this humanitarian priority,” said the Irish MLA.

In a statement released on Tuesday, The Geneva-based Euro-Med Monitor urged the international community in an earlier statement to protect Palestinians and force Israeli forces to stop incursions of cities and towns that threaten preventive measures taken by the Palestinian Authority to control the outbreak of coronavirus.

It also called for investigating the suspicious behavior of a number of soldiers and Jewish settlers, which appeared to be an attempt to spread the infection and hold those responsible to account.

Twenty-one new coronavirus cases were confirmed in the West Bank today, the highest in a single day since the outbreak of the disease, bringing the total in Palestine to 155, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

(Palestine Chronicle, WAFA, Social Media)

Israeli Forces Demolish Three Palestinian Buildings near Apartheid Wall

Israeli soldiers demolish Palestinian buildings in the Northern West Bank village of Rummaneh. (Photo: via Twitter)

The Israeli army demolished this morning three buildings that were under construction in the northern West Bank village of Rummaneh, west of the city of Jenin, according to the Palestinian news agency WAFA.

A large Israeli force raided the village and proceeded to demolish the three buildings owned by three residents of Rummaneh that were being built near the Israeli apartheid wall.

Clashes erupted between the soldiers and local youths during the army operation causing several suffocation cases among protesters, who inhaled teargas fired by the soldiers.

The Israeli army had previously informed Rummaneh residents of a decision to demolish their buildings near the barrier under the pretext they were being built without a permit.

According to the human rights group B’tselem, “over the years, Israel has demolished hundreds of houses as part of this policy, leaving thousands of Palestinians homeless”.

This policy was widely condemned by human rights groups as “a collective punishment”, which is prohibited and violates binding provisions of international law.

(Palestine Chronicle, WAFA, Social Media)

Palestinian Released from Israeli Detention Tested Positive to Coronavirus

Palestinians hold in Gaza demanding protection for Palestinian prisoners against coronavirus. (Photo: via Twitter)

A 19-year-old Palestinian, who was released yesterday from Israeli detention, has tested positive for coronavirus and was included in the 15 corona cases announced today by the Palestinian government.

Nour Eddin Sarsour, from Beitunia town, was arrested on March 18 and released on Tuesday evening after spending his detention period in Ofer Prison and in the Benjamin Investigation Center, according to a statement released by the Prisoners Commission.

The statement said that Sarsour was released yesterday and that before leaving the prison, his inmates celebrated with him his release, expressing concern about the prisoners contracting the virus.

The Commission lambasted the Israel Prison Services for not conducting tests on the prisoners before their release, holding it responsible for the life and health of the prisoners who were in contact with Sarsour before his release.

(Palestine Chronicle, WAFA, Social Media)