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Israel prefers profits to saving Israeli lives from Coronavirus - says PA Government spokesman

Nan Jacques Zilberdik and Itamar Marcus  |

PA libels:

  • Israelis spit at Palestinians and touch their ATMs to spread Coronavirus –  PA Government spokesman
  • Israeli prison guards seek to infect Palestinian prisoners with Coronavirus –  PA Government spokesman
  • Israelis “carry out quality suicide bombing attacks from afar… without explosives or explosive belts… using the Coronavirus as… biological weapon” – op-ed in official PA daily

The Palestinian Authority is continuing to tell its people about a nefarious Israeli plot to infect Palestinians with the Coronavirus, which was first exposed by Palestinian Media Watch last week. The libel is being disseminated even by the PA leadership.

PA Government Spokesman Ibrahim Melhem embellished the libel with classic Antisemitism, stating that Israel prefers profits to saving Israeli lives from Coronavirus, and what matters to Israel and Israeli PM Netanyahu is to keep up the production and financial life because it is all about money:

Official PA Government Spokesman Ibrahim Melhem: “Why is the number of infected [with Coronavirus] high among the Israelis? Because they prioritize money. They don’t want to stop the wheels of production, and so they are sacrificing the infected among their people in order to make more money. The heads of the cartels and the wealthy, and with them [Israeli Prime Minister] Netanyahu, do not want to paralyze the financial life because they are doing the math: Money.”

 [Official PA TV, Palestine This Morning, March 29, 2020]

Melhem reiterated that Israelis are spitting at Palestinians and touch their ATMs to infect them with the Coronavirus:

Official PA Government Spokesman Ibrahim Melhem: “The Israeli settlement racism is expressed in the behavior of the settlers, who contaminate the ATM machines and spit at the [Palestinian] citizens and their cars in order to spread the epidemic… The settlers are natural and exclusive agents for the Coronavirus epidemic. They spread it through their touch and their racist and barbaric behavior that they are exhibiting towards the [Palestinian] citizens.”

 [Official PA TV, Palestine This Morning, March 29, 2020]

An op-ed in the official PA daily accused Israel of carrying out “suicide attacks” against Palestinians with “hidden bombs” by sending Corona infected Palestinian laborers back to the PA to spread the disease:

Headline: “Israeli suicide attacks with hidden bombs”

“The racist settler colonialist occupiers have proven their extraordinary capabilities to carry out quality suicide bombing attacks from afar, in other words, without explosives or explosive belts. This is because they are using the Coronavirus as the most modern biological weapon…

It is enough for them that the disease transfer to a Palestinian laborer or citizen who passes between the cities and villages in historical and natural Palestine (i.e., Israel) in order for this Palestinian to become their mobile suicide bomb, whose direct effects are greater than any weapon, even a nuclear bomb.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, April 2, 2020]

The writer, who is a regular columnist for the paper, further referred to the Coronavirus as “the hidden bomb” and also echoed the words of Government Spokesman Melhem that Israel prioritizes the economy over fighting the Coronavirus and “prefer that the wheel of finance continue turning at the expense of human life.”

Another regular columnist for the PA daily, Bassem Barhoum, repeated the allegation that Israel – who he referred to as “the enemy neighbor” – deliberately is attempting to “export” the virus to the PA:

"Until this moment, Palestine – with its president, government, institutions, and forces – is managing the crisis well, despite the enemy neighbor exporting to us its worsening crisis with the spread of the epidemic there.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, April 1, 2020]

The government spokesman also reiterated the PA libel that Israel is deliberately trying to infect imprisoned Palestinian terrorists with the virus: 

Official PA Government Spokesman Ibrahim Melhem: “Israeli racism is exploiting this [Corona] epidemic as an opportunity to act violently and settle accounts, and to exert more pressure on our prisoners… Regards from me to all of our prisoners in the occupation’s prisons, and take care of yourselves because these prison guards want to spread the [Corona] epidemic among you.”

[Official PA TV, Palestine This Morning, March 29, 2020]

The following are longer excerpts of the reports cited above:

Excerpt of op-ed by Bassem Barhoum, a regular columnist for the PA daily

Headline: "Who will laugh last in the Coronavirus crisis?"

"Until this moment, Palestine – with its president, government, institutions, and forces – is managing the crisis well, despite the enemy neighbor exporting to us its worsening crisis with the spread of the epidemic there. If the successful management and cooperation by the [Palestinian] people continues, we hope that we will be among those who laugh last, and that we will be a role-model of a small state without sovereignty and resources for large states that failed in managing the crisis. If this result is realized, no one will dare to say that we are not fit for independence."

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, April 1, 2020]

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

Headline: “Israeli suicide attacks with hidden bombs”

“We will not agree to Israeli custody over our steps; Israel must leave us to [lead] our lives’ – [let us] analyze the important words of [PA] Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh, which were said in response to the Israeli occupation authorities’ trend of approving a situation of health-based annexation of the West Bank on the pretext of fighting the spread of the Coronavirus, according to our evaluations and viewpoint. The danger is terrible. It threatens our existence and our independent decision making, and weakens our capabilities – which were proven to be efficient – to fight the most modern weapon of mass destruction and death.

We will start with how the racist settler colonialist occupiers have proven their extraordinary capabilities to carry out quality suicide bombing attacks from afar, in other words, without explosives or explosive belts. This is because they are using the Coronavirus as the most modern biological weapon, to which as of now there is no known effective vaccine, and the only possibility of eliminating it is to stop the wheels of daily life in the afflicted society.

It is enough for them that the disease transfer to a Palestinian laborer or citizen who passes between the cities and villages in historical and natural Palestine (i.e., Israel) in order for this Palestinian to become their mobile suicide bomb, whose direct effects are greater than any weapon, even a nuclear bomb. We must remember that the atomic bomb that the American army dropped on Hiroshima, and also Nagasaki, did not destroy Japan. The destruction and death prevailed only in the two cities… but in these moments we are witness to the collapse of super powers, to defeats, to victims, and to infected people throughout the state…

The settlements control the entrances to every village and city and their strategic areas, and here lies the greatest danger, which Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh spoke about when he said: ‘The real weak point in the Palestinians’ campaign against the spread of the Coronavirus is the occupation, its settlers, its checkpoints, and all of its steps that are meant to thwart our efforts to defend our people and stop the epidemic’s spread.’

The Palestinian [PA] government has mobilized all of its human and material resources in order to stop the advance of ‘the hidden bomb,’ the Coronavirus… but the occupation authorities – which were impressed by the Palestinian government’s ability to stop the number of infected while they failed in stopping the shocking and frightening rise in the number of infected and dead among them, and given the fact that they prefer that the wheel of finance continue turning at the expense of human life – hurried to tempt the Palestinian laborers with easements such as staying at the workplaces for an entire month. This encouraged a large part of the laborers to respond in the affirmative, and this is what Shtayyeh referred to when he said: ‘The fact that the laborers are continuing to pass with Israeli easements among their cities and villages and their workplaces, both within the Green Line (i.e., Palestinian term for Israel; the Green Line is the ceasefire line between Israel and the neighboring Arab countries, 1949-1967) and in the settlements, constitutes a calamity for all the efforts we made at an early stage to stop the spread of the disease.’ In the end, some of them (the Palestinian laborers) [parentheses in source] discovered that the occupation authorities and the Israeli employers – and the worst of them are in the settlements – do not care about the lives of the Palestinian laborers, but rather [care] first of all about their material and financial profits.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, April 2, 2020]

Green Line - 1949-1967 ceasefire line between Israel and the neighboring Arab countries (Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria) following Israel's War of Independence (1948-1949). Land within the Green Line is all part of the State of Israel since 1949. Land outside the Green Line includes East Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and the Golan Heights.

Headline: "Premier: Real weakness in our battle against COVID-19 is the Israeli occupation"

"Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said today that the real weakness in the Palestinian battle against the spread of coronavirus is the Israeli occupation, settlements, checkpoints, 'and all its policies that attempt to thwart our efforts to protect our people.'

He stressed in a statement after 15 new cases of coronavirus were confirmed today among Palestinians working in Israeli factories that 'the Palestinian workers' continued movement, with Israeli facilitation, between their cities, villages, and workplaces, whether inside the green line or in the settlements, is a blow to our early efforts to stop the spread of this pandemic.'

He said that 'Israel's decision to allow the entry of workers is an attempt to protect the Israeli economy at the expense of the lives of our workers. Israel's economy is not as precious as the lives of our children.'

Shtayyeh said that the Palestinian Authority worked from day one of the coronavirus disease 'with high professional standards and swift measures. We first managed to control the COVID-19 outbreak in Bethlehem completely. We also succeeded in controlling the spread possibilities among travelers, through close coordination with Jordan and Egypt, by closing the border crossings, and screening and quarantining all the travelers with and without symptoms. This made us keep a slow pace in the number of cases.'

'The credit goes to our national efforts. The harmony between the leadership's decisions and popular response, also the dedication of the State of Palestine employees, is the reason why we have been able to control this situation,' he said, adding that Palestine is coordinating with different international parties, including the World Health Organization that follows up daily with the Ministry of Health and, in turn, has praised the preventive actions of the State of Palestine.

'We don't accept Israeli guardianship over our measures. What is required is for Israel to leave us alone,' he insisted."

[WAFA, official PA news agency, April 1, 2020]

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