Palestinians seek cooperation against Covid-19; Israel responds with more collective punishment
RAMALLAH, April 14, 2020 (WAFA) — Saeb Erekat, Secretary-General of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), said Israel has responded to Palestinian request to cooperate in fighting the coronavirus pandemic with incursions, killings and demolitions.
Speaking on Palestine TV, Erekat said “despite our limited capabilities, we tried to cooperate with Israel to combat the epidemic, but Israel has responded with incursions and carried out 187 incursions in the past days, three martyrs fell and 47 wounded, 53 structures were demolished and carried out 188 arrest campaigns, as well as throwing workers at checkpoints without providing them with the slightest health assistance.”
He said that “President Mahmoud Abbas took the initiative (to combat coronavirus pandemic) and was the first in the world to declare a state of emergency, preceding the US president by six weeks and (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu by four weeks. The Palestinian government made great efforts in combating the spread of this pandemic, which has paralyzed all aspects of life in the world.”
He said that Israel arrested Palestinian leaders in Jerusalem for carrying out work to implement health and awareness measures to stop the spread of the epidemic in the occupied city, and these leaders were prevented from carrying out their duties and responsibilities in protecting the residents of Jerusalem.
“What do you expect from a prime minister who arrests a minister, a governor and a member of the Executive Committee or a security officer for distributing food parcels in Jerusalem,” he said. “Even aid to the Palestinian people from abroad, either Israel takes half of it or confiscates it.”
He said that Israel did not respond or heed demands for the release of the Palestinian prisoners as stated in international conventions at a time of an outbreak of disease.
The PLO official said that after elections ended in Israel, talks started about forming a government focusing on annexation of occupied Palestinian territory. “This authority and this government are only thinking about annexation even during a pandemic while the world is busy fighting it,” he said. “Netanyahu sees the pandemic as an opportunity to implement his Zionist decisions, plans, and (US President Donald) Trump plans for annexation. President Abbas contacted all leaders around the world calling for the formation of an international coalition to prevent Netanyahu from implementing the annexation.”
At the same time, added Erekat, “Netanyahu is working hard to annul all agreements and terms of reference, and if he implements the annexation, he will destroy all the pillars and foundations of the peace process.”
He stressed that Israel must be held accountable for all its actions, “and this is why it is important to pressure Israel to prevent annexation and to combat coronavirus.”