While Israel has taken measures to prevent the virus from reaching all Israeli prisons, the Palestinian Authority is spreading a nasty blood libel to the contrary.
By Nan Jacques Zilberdik and Itamar Marcus, Palestinian Media Watch
The Palestinian Authority (PA) falsely claimed that Israel is putting prisoners at risk of being infected by the Coronavirus. Therefore, the PA has demanded Israel free all Palestinian terrorists.
In fact, Israel has been taking measures to prevent the virus from reaching all Israeli prisons and to date there are no known Coronavirus infections there.
Ignoring the facts, an op-ed in the official PA daily went as far as accusing Israel of putting the prisoners at risk so that they are “on the brink of a holocaust,” alleging that the prisons have not taken the necessary steps to stop the virus from spreading within the prisons:
“[The spread of coronavirus in Israel] has caused the Palestinian prisoners in the occupation’s detention camps to protest and return the food portions, because the occupation authorities have not taken the necessary steps to prevent the spread of the virus, and added insult to injury when they withheld disinfectant and cleaning materials from the prisoners – as if we are on the brink of a holocaust against the Palestinian prisoners, but not through ovens but rather through an invisible virus that still has no cure!” [Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, March 25, 2020]
The writer, who is a regular columnist for the paper, further demonized Israel: “The colonialist and settlement occupation system in the era of [Israeli Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu is proving for the millionth time that it is the most dangerous ‘human virus’ known to man.”
Another cartoon also portrayed a Palestinian fighting both Israel and the Coronavirus, picturing them as equal threats: The cartoon shows a Palestinian trying to hold down “Israeli settlement” with one hand – depicted by a molecular-shaped orb covered with small private homes and hands aiming handguns at him, including one poking right into his chest – and a Coronavirus molecule with the other hand. [Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, March 28, 2020]
Rumors were circulated in the PA that four prisoners fell ill with the virus, but the PA itself dismissed the rumors:
“Director of [PLO] Commission of Prisoners and Released Prisoners’ Affairs Qadri Abu Bakr, [PA] Minister of Health Mai Al-Kaila, and representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross confirmed that there are no Coronavirus patients among the members of the prisoners’ movement in the occupation’s prisons.
“The senior officials emphasized during a meeting that was held yesterday [March 19, 2020]… that the news items that were disseminated yesterday regarding four prisoners who are sick with the Coronavirus at the Megiddo Prison are not true, and that these prisoners in wing 4 were quarantined as a preventative step for investigation purposes.” [Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, March 20, 2020]
However, Abbas’ Fatah Movement and the PLO Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs added to the rumors of the terrorist prisoners being in danger and launched a campaign to support them. The following are some examples: “A cartoon shows a prisoner sitting in a prison cell, with an Israeli jailor – with a stereotypically large nose – reaching towards him from a window on the left and the Coronavirus – a monster resembling a viral envelope covered in peplomers – reaching towards him from a window on the right.
The headline reads: “The occupation’s Corona is killing the prisoners”
Adding to the rumors, the PLO Commission for Prisoners’ Affairs also published a report in which it reiterated the unsubstantiated claim that Israel’s Prison Service is negligent towards the imprisoned Palestinian terrorists, and even accused Israel of “exploiting the spread of the Coronavirus” to “escalate the steps of harassment against the prisoners.” The PLO Commission made this accusation despite the fact that Israel has taken the extraordinary step of letting some prisoners call their relatives due to the crisis.
The PA has also criticized Israel for its treatment of Palestinian workers coming from Judea and Samaria to work within Israel during the Coronavirus crisis. Despite the fact that Israel allowed Palestinian workers to continue to stay and work, and gave such workers several days to arrange with their Israeli employers to stay in Israel overnight before Israel closed the crossings from the West Bank into Israel, the PA has criticized Israel for not taking care of medical aid for the Palestinian workers. Secretary-General of the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions Shaher Sa’ad accused Israel of “racism.”
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