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Israel hurts Palestinian efforts to tackle Covid-19 by confiscating medical tents

THE Israeli government has been accused of hindering Palestinian efforts to combat the Covid-19 crisis after officials confiscated medical tents in the West Bank. 

Early on Thursday, officials from the Israeli occupation administration stole eight tent structures from the town of Ibziq in the Jordan Valley, two of which were to be used as emergency clinics, according to Israeli human-rights group B’Tselem.

The group described the action as “shocking” and “especially cruel” during this time of global crisis. 

“As the whole world battles an unprecedented and paralysing 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,” B’Tselem said in a statement. 

“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.”

The tents were confiscated despite the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) warning earlier this week that the Palestinian health system was severely ill-equipped to cope with an expected rise in Covid-19 cases. 

As of Monday, a total of 59 cases had been detected in the Palestinian territories — 57 in the West Bank and two in the Gaza Strip — while Israel had 3,035 cases as of today.

The Israeli government has made clear that the continued repression of the Palestinian people remains a key priority.

Since the outbreak, East Jerusalem neighbourhoods have faced increased police presence and raids, while house demolitions have continued across the West Bank.

On the same day as the Jordan Valley incident, Israeli bulldozers demolished three homes in a village near the West Bank city of Jericho.

The Good Shepherd Collective, a grassroots network of Palestinian villagers affected by demolitions, told the Morning Star that the continuation of these policies demonstrates “how Israel prioritises the process of Palestinian displacement.”

“Since the first case of recorded Covid-19 on February 21, the Israeli military has demolished 37 structures, displacing over 60 people,” said Good Shepherd campaigner Cody O’Rourke. 

“When people are supposed to be social-distancing, the demolition of homes is the exact antithesis of what [the World Health Organisation] is recommending to contain the virus.” 

Thousands of Palestinians travel from the West Bank to work in Israel every day. 

Mr O’Rourke suggested that by hurting Palestinian efforts to self-isolate and tackle Covid-19, the Israel authorities are “willing to risk the spread of the coronavirus [and] the lives of their citizens for the sake of exploitation and colonialism.”

The UN has repeatedly called on Israel to halt house demolitions, branding them war crimes. 

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