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PA Libel: Israel causing Corona "holocaust" in prisons - op-ed in official PA daily

Nan Jacques Zilberdik and Itamar Marcus  |
  • PA cartoon: Israel = Coronavirus

The above cartoon is yet another example of the PA’s demonization of Israel by comparing it to the Coronavirus, as Palestinian Media Watch has documented:

Text on cartoon: “The Palestinian prisoners”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, March 23, 2020]

The cartoon shows an Israeli jailor wearing a uniform and helmet covered in protrusions resembling the peplomers on the Coronavirus viral envelope. The jailor is holding an assault rifle and leading a Palestinian prisoner on a rope.

This cartoon follows repeated false accusations by the PA 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.

Headline: "The occupation's Corona is killing the prisoners"

[Facebook page of the PLO Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs, March 25, 2020; 
and Falestinona, website of Fatah’s Information and Culture Commission in Lebanon, March 26, 2020]

An image shows a prison cell surrounded by barbed wire with a Coronavirus particle on it.

Text on image: “As a sign of support for our prisoners in their battle with the occupation and in light of the danger of them being infected with the Coronavirus, the Palestinian young people in occupied Palestine and the diaspora call on you to participate in the internet campaign
#The_prisoners_are_our_strength
On Wednesday, March 25, 2020, 8:00 p.m.
On social media
Their welfare is the homeland’s welfare”

[Official Fatah Facebook page, March 25, 2020]

The PLO Commission also posted images of individual sick or old terrorist prisoners, claiming they are in danger if not released to the PA. The following is one such post: 

The image shows terrorist Yasser Rabai’ah, who murdered 1 together with an accomplice.

Posted text: “#The_prisoners_are_our_strength”
Text on image: “The prisoners against the prison guards and the Coronavirus
Prisoner Yasser Rabai’ah is one of the prisoners who are sick with cancer. How will he deal with the Coronavirus in the occupation’s prison?”

[Facebook page of the PLO Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs, March 25, 2020]

Yasser Rabai'ah – Palestinian terrorist who together with an accomplice murdered Greek Orthodox monk Tsibouktsakis Germanus in an attack on the Jerusalem-Ma'ale Adumim road on June 12, 2001.

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 [PLO] Commission of Prisoners and Released Prisoners' Affairs reported that the occupation's [Israeli] Prison Service has allowed the minor, sick, elderly, and female prisoners who are serving time in a number of Israeli prisons to call their relatives in order to ask how they are doing in light of the unusual situation of the spread of the Corona epidemic…
The commission said that the fears regarding the prisoners’ fate are increasing each day, and particularly regarding the sick and the elderly who have a weak immune system, particularly because they are in wards that do not have even the most minimal health and security conditions, which constitutes a fertile environment for the spread of the virus. The commission added that the [Israeli] Prison Service is exploiting the current situation of the spread of the Coronavirus in order to escalate the steps of harassment against the prisoners as a continuation of the steps of oppression against them, as it denies them means of protection and public security such as disinfectants, cleansers, and sterilizers, and has not provided the prisoners with any instructions that would enable them to assist in limiting infection by the virus."

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, March 27, 2020]

The PA has also criticized Israel for its treatment of Palestinian workers coming from the West Bank 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”:

“Secretary-General of the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions Shaher Sa'ad warned against the dangerous medical consequences for the health of the Palestinian laborers who are working and were allowed to stay in the 1948 territories (i.e., Israel), given the lack of necessary medical aid for them from their employers. Sa’ad said in a press release he published yesterday, Friday [March 20, 2020], that not supplying preventative treatment and a medically secure place to stay for laborers constitutes shirking [responsibility] by employers and the occupation state, which do not relate to our laborers like the Israeli laborers or foreign laborers who are staying in Israel. This indicates that the racist criteria regarding them have remained as is, despite the sudden danger that will affect everyone.
He added that the Israeli racism is endangering the laborers’ lives and their welfare, and exposing them to the danger of being infected with diseases – whether infectious diseases or the Coronavirus that has begun to spread in the Israeli occupation state, and this is an intentional racist step.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, March 21, 2020]

Another cartoon gave Palestinian doctors the highest praise – portraying them as today’s “Fedayeen” = “self-sacrificing fighters” – a term normally used to refer to terrorists fighting and attacking Israel. Sadly, the high praise the PA daily can give for doctors is to say they are like terrorists:

Text on cartoon: "The self-sacrificing fighters (Fedayeen) of this period"

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, March 25, 2020]

PMW exposed in 2017 a Fatah guide for kids how to throw rocks,which featured this photo of a boy using a sling with a rock in the same way portrayed in the cartoon of the doctor:

Posted text: "In order to hit the target, there are three conditions:
1. Stand stably and balance your legs, arms, and body well
2. Focus your gaze on the center of the target, and do not look at anything else
3. Keep the desired balance between your body and your weapon; you are the one that controls the weapon, and not the other way around
If you did not understand this, read it again, and if you still have not understood, here is an example picture for you"

[Official Fatah Twitter account, Dec. 16, 2017]

Always ready to deny Israel's existence and right to exist, Fatah posted this image of the PA’s map of “Palestine” – which includes the entire State of Israel – being attacked by the Coronavirus:

Text in upper left of image: “Allah willing, we are stronger
Stay at home”
Posted text: “Allah willing, we are stronger
#Palestine_will_triumph
#Stay_at_home”

[Official Fatah Facebook page, March 26, 2020]

Note the Coronavirus particles descending from the sky over Jerusalem viewed from the east, with the Dome of the Rock visible at the bottom left.

The following are additional PA reactions to the spread of the Coronavirus vis-à-vis Israel:

Headline: “Rafat: We call on the World Health Organization to intervene with the occupation in order to release the prisoners”
“[PLO Executive Committee member and] Secretary-General of the Palestinian Democratic Union FIDA Saleh Rafat said that the occupation authorities’ refusal to release the prisoners is a criminal act. He said: ‘The statement of the [PA-funded] Prisoners’ Club regarding Coronavirus patients among some prisoners in the Israeli prisons – and particularly the Megiddo Prison – puts the international community face-to-face with its legal and moral obligations.’
He added: ‘Given the increasing danger in the Israeli prisons as a result of the chance that the disease will be transmitted to the prisoners, we call on the Red Cross, the World Health Organization, and the relevant institutions for prisoners’ rights and human rights to intervene with the occupation state in order to immediately release the male and female prisoners, and particularly those who are sick, the elderly, and the children.’”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, March 20, 2020]

Saleh Rafat also holds the position of head of the PLO Military and Security Department.

Headline: “There are no Coronavirus patients among the prisoners”
“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.
The Commission of Prisoners’ [Affairs] also… held the occupation fully responsible for the lives and health of the male and female prisoners who are in their prisons, because [the occupation authorities] are progressing slowly in supplying health and safety measures for the prisoners in all of the prisons and detention centers.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, March 20, 2020]

Headline: “Fatah: The occupation’s invasion of Bethlehem under these conditions proves its inhumane mentality”
“The Fatah Movement, through its Spokesman Hussein Hamayel, condemned the occupation forces’ entry into the Bethlehem district yesterday [March 19, 2020], particularly because this behavior comes after the [PA] Security Forces in the district declared that it is dangerous to walk around outside in order to protect the citizens’ welfare against the spread of the Coronavirus.
Hamayel said that the integrative action between sectors of our Palestinian people did not find favor in the occupation’s eyes given the extensive popular satisfaction with the performance of the [PA] government and the Security Forces, and particularly because the Israeli street has begun to compare the Palestinians’ excellent performance with the Israeli performance, particularly in light of the gaps in capability between the two sides, which has led the occupation army to the usual fascist thought of harming the Security Forces’ performance in Bethlehem.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, March 20, 2020]

Headline: “Sa’ad warned against the consequences of the lack of medical aid for laborers who were allowed to work and stay within the 1948 territories”
“Secretary-General of the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions Shaher Sa'ad warned against the dangerous medical consequences for the health of the Palestinian laborers who are working and were allowed to stay in the 1948 territories (i.e., Israel), given the lack of necessary medical aid for them from their employers. Sa’ad said in a press release he published yesterday, Friday [March 20, 2020], that not supplying preventative treatment and a medically secure place to stay for laborers constitutes shirking by employers and the occupation state, which do not relate to our laborers like the Israeli laborers or foreign laborers who are staying in Israel. This indicates that the racist criteria regarding them have remained as is, despite the sudden danger that will affect everyone.
He added that the Israeli racism is endangering the laborers’ lives and their welfare, and exposing them to the danger of being infected with diseases – whether infectious diseases or the Coronavirus that has begun to spread in the Israeli occupation state, and this is an intentional racist step that contradicts all of the international regulations concerning the health and welfare of the laborers…
Sa’ad warned against the possibility that the occupation state will treat the laborers as it has treated those of them who became ill even before the Coronavirus epidemic – in other words, that it will keep those who it suspects are sick at the military checkpoints, as it kept the injured laborers [there] in the past and left them to bleed to death without providing them with the necessary medical aid
. He mentioned the shocking report published by the Israeli Channel 11 [news station] on the residential and living conditions of the laborers who are allowed to live and stay in the 1948 territories, after they received promises from their employers that they will provide them with accessorized residential apartments.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, March 21, 2020]

Excerpt of an op-ed by Muwaffaq Matar, Fatah Revolutionary Council member and regular columnist for the official PA daily

Headline: “A racist Israeli holocaust through the Coronavirus!”
“The Israeli settlers and the occupation system’s soldiers are wreaking havoc in our land, like the Coronavirus is wreaking havoc in people’s lungs. The Israeli occupation army’s soldiers are killing our defenseless young people with their bullets and arresting them, like the Coronavirus is killing adults and people with weak immune systems, and not giving them a chance to survive…
The Coronavirus will traverse the world’s countries and reach its end, like previous epidemics that spread everywhere and afterwards disappeared. People will remember it as a murderous and temporary settler – aside from our land of Palestine, upon which the global colonialist system has brought suffering through the permanent, criminal, and lethal virus of settlement
In the news it was reported that 1,656 people have been infected with the virus [in Israel], of which 31 cases have been defined as serious, and this is in addition to tens of thousands of carriers who have not been diagnosed, including soldiers and police officers…
This 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!
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.
Through the occupation, settlements, war crimes, and racism, they are more dangerous to humanity than a pandemic in a period of justice, equality, freedom, and rights.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, March 25, 2020]

Headline: "The [PLO] Commission of Prisoners' [Affairs]: The [Israeli] Prison Service has allowed prisoners to call their relatives"
"The [PLO] Commission of Prisoners and Released Prisoners' Affairs reported that the occupation's [Israeli] Prison Service has allowed the minor, sick, elderly, and female prisoners who are serving time in a number of Israeli prisons to call their relatives in order to ask how they are doing in light of the unusual situation of the spread of the Corona epidemic.
The commission explained in a report that it published yesterday [March 26, 2020] that this step comes after intensive efforts that were invested by the Commission of Prisoners' [Affairs], the Red Cross organization, and additional international parties in order to pressure the occupation's Prison Service to allow the aforementioned groups to call their relatives.
The commission said that the fears regarding the prisoners’ fate are increasing each day, and particularly regarding the sick and the elderly who have a weak immune system, particularly because they are in wards that do not have even the most minimal health and security conditions, which constitutes a fertile environment for the spread of the virus. The commission added that the [Israeli] Prison Service is exploiting the current situation of the spread of the Coronavirus in order to escalate the steps of harassment against the prisoners as a continuation of the steps of oppression against them, as it denies them means of protection and public security such as disinfectants, cleansers, and sterilizers, and has not provided the prisoners with any instructions that would enable them to assist in limiting infection by the virus."

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, March 27, 2020]
 

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