04 September 2020

London - In the context of the outbreak of Coronavirus in the occupied Jerusalem with at least 2,067 Palestinian citizens with the virus, civil society organizations responded to combating against the virus, playing a prominent and rescue role for the city, especially in the light of the policy of marginalization and the neglect pursued by the Israeli occupation forces with regard to the needs of the Palestinians. The international platform "iPalestine" has monitored a series of behaviors carried out by the occupying forces in a systematic and deliberate way in the occupied Jerusalem, with the aim of hindering the ability of Palestinian civil society to fight the Corona virus. The most prominent of these practices are:

  • The Palestinian Authority was prevented from operating inside the occupied city, where in April the Israeli occupation asked Palestinian authority agencies that were working to curb the spread of the virus in some parts of Jerusalem, to leave the city without any explanation or reasons.
  • The Israeli occupation authorities refused to open Coronavirus testing centers for the people living in many areas of Jerusalem. For this reason, a group of civil society organizations of Jerusalem, including Adalah center, submitted a petition to the Supreme Court of Israel requesting the provision of Corona testing centers for residents of Shu’fat and Kafr Aqab refugee camps as a first step to reduce the spread of the epidemic. Following this petition, on 13 April 2020, the occupying forces decided to open three centers for Coronavirus testing.
  • The occupying forces are significantly acting racist while dealing with the Corona crisis in Jerusalem, this was witnessed through their practices accounting the paths of the presence of the Israelis that having coronavirus in Jerusalem in order to identify the might be effected areas and people, however, they do not act the same way in the areas of Palestinians in Jerusalem.

Suppression of Palestinian civil society initiatives aimed at controlling the virus and relief for Jerusalemite families; In this context, on 16 March 2020, two youths from Jerusalem organized a campaign to sterilize the streets of the Old City, but the occupation authorities confronted these initiatives with direct repression and deporting four Jerusalemites from the Old City for two weeks for distributing leaflets about the Corona virus. In a Press Release published in March 2020, the Palestinian Prisoners' Club, a Palestinian civil society organization, announced that Israeli police had arrested eight Palestinian youths from Jerusalem during voluntary activities, including the sterilization of some public facilities.

Montaser Idkidik, Executive Director of ‪Burj Alluqluq Social Center Society, and a member of the Jerusalem Congregation, speaks to the international platform "iPalestine" about the role of his association in combating Coronavirus in the Jerusalem city, saying " Burj Alluqluq Social Center Society carried out during the corona crisis many programs and events aimed to combating the virus and protect the people in Jerusalem from it, where the organization worked to organize many awareness initiatives through the publication of videos and posters to educate the citizens of Jerusalem on how to prevent the virus, and on our initiative we decided that the special ambulance of the association to work on a daily basis in Jerusalem, at the quarantine headquarters for the residents of the city of Jerusalem, which was opened with a Palestinian Jerusalem identity through the Jerusalem campaign to confront Corona. We also organized a special campaign in cooperation with the Foundation for Cooperation and the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development by distributing sterilization materials and guidance to the women of Bab Hutta and Al-Saadia Lane in Jerusalem's Old City through the association's volunteers, distributing internal sterility, hands gloves and masks."

The international platform "iPalestine" monitored a series of awareness campaigns carried out by civil society in the occupied city of Jerusalem to talk about the pandemic and its repercussions, educate and reassure the Jerusalemites and raise their awareness of the health and public safety procedures, provide guidance information to help them to respond to rumors in the light of the crisis, and make them aware of the danger of lack of discipline and recklessness with safety procedures. These campaigns included the implementation of the General Union of Palestinian Trade Unions on August 24, 2020, of an awareness campaign for Palestinian workers in the occupied city of Jerusalem entitled "The Union's Guidance Campaign", where the campaign team carried out an awareness campaign by educating workers about the dangers of laxity in following-up the safety measures against the coronavirus, they also distributed protective masks and medical sanitizers to workers. In another initiative, Al-Saraya Center for Community Service launched the "Jerusalem in the Time of Corona" initiative to raise awareness among Jerusalemites in all categories about the coronavirus and how to prevent it, and to alleviate fear and panic.  The National Christian Assembly also distributed protective masks and disinfectants to Palestinian citizens in various areas of Jerusalem. Also, Al-Quds University, the Regional Network for Social Responsibility and the Jerusalem Endowment Fund have launched a campaign entitled "Jerusalem calls for you to win the Corona"

Jerusalem organizations have also launched several campaigns aimed at sterilizing the areas of the occupied city of Jerusalem. These campaigns continued despite the Israeli occupation forces' persecution of volunteers there and the confiscation of sterile materials. This was implemented along with the campaigns carried out by the Al-Quds gathering to confront Corona with the support and funding of the Palestinian Vision Foundation to sterilize more than 20 institutions in the city, and to sterilize more than 150 classrooms where high school students' exams were held.

Jerusalem civil society organizations have contributed to strengthening social solidarity by helping those in need as a result of the Coronavirus. For example, the Taawon Center has implemented a development initiative within the "Palestine is calling you" campaign, supporting nearly 800 families from Jerusalem governorate by providing emergency humanitarian relief and distributing food and health aid. Organizations that are working in Jerusalem have also provided psychological and legal support services to the Jerusalemites people, especially those who are subjected to traumatic disorders, such as the implementation of an initiative entitled "Daem" for the psychological and social support of the people of Jerusalem to support them in combating Coronavirus. 

Although Jerusalem civil society organizations play their full role in Jerusalem, iPalestine stresses that confronting the virus needs to harness more human, material and medical resources, especially in light of the city's health neglect by the occupation authorities, where the data indicate that there are 350,000 Palestinians living in Jerusalem, and if the coronavirus spreads further in the city, the health system will be unable to treat and follow up on the cases. The death of dozens of Jerusalemites, especially since according to the Network of Hospitals in East Jerusalem, only 22 respirators are available in the city, a very small number for the city's population.

In the event of a spread of the disease, the need will reach hundreds or thousands of organs, and therefore "iPalestine" urges all civil society organizations operating in The City of Jerusalem to act immediately to expose the racist policy of occupation, which is to neglect the health situation in Jerusalem, and to demand that the Israeli occupation be forced to carry out its legal duties in the health care of the city, as stipulated in Article 56 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which requires the occupation state to apply all necessary measures to combat the spread of diseases and epidemics.

Although Jerusalem civil society organizations play their full role in Jerusalem, iPalestine stresses that confronting the virus needs to harness more workforces, material and medical resources, especially in light of the neglect of the city's health by the occupation authorities. In this regard, the data indicate that there are 350,000 Palestinians living in the occupied city of Jerusalem, and if the coronavirus spreads further in the city, the health system will be unable to treat and follow up on the cases. The death of dozens of Jerusalemites, especially according to the Network of Hospitals in East Jerusalem, only 22 respirators are available in the city which is a very small number comparing to the city's population. If the disease happens to spread, the need will reach hundreds or thousands of devices. Accordingly, and with the complete Palestinian rejection of the Israeli occupation of Jerusalem and its harassment of Jerusalemites, "iPalestine" urges all civil society organizations operating in Jerusalem to act immediately to expose the racist policy of occupation, which is to neglect the health situation in Jerusalem, and to demand that the Israeli occupation be forced to carry out its legal duties in the health care of the city, as stipulated in Article 56 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which requires the occupation state to apply all necessary measures to combat the spread of diseases and epidemics.