The coronavirus may be keeping people apart as cities around the world enact quarantines and stay at home measures, but it’s also bringing the Palestinians and Israelis together—at least in responding to the virus. Israel has delivered hundreds of coronavirus testing kits to the Palestinians in recent weeks and engaged in joint medical workshops with the Palestinians, according to a post last Thursday from Israel’s Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT). The post included a video from Maj. Yotam Shefer, head of the Foreign Relations Department for the Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria, who noted that various Israeli agencies “have been working to aid the [Palestinian Authority (PA)] in dealing with the outbreak of the coronavirus.”
Furthermore, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin spoke with PA President Mahmoud Abbas last week by phone to discuss the pandemic. “The world is dealing with a crisis that does not distinguish between people or where they live,” an Israeli press release quoted Rivlin as saying. Rivlin added, “The cooperation between us is vital to ensure the health of both Israelis and Palestinians.”
The press release noted that Rivlin has also spoken with Israel’s Ministry of Finance and security forces regarding “coordination in the fields of health, medical training and transfer of equipment.” Rivlin told Abbas he is ready to assist as needed. “Our ability to work together in times of crisis is also testament to our ability to work together in the future for the good of us all,” said Rivlin.
The coronavirus is respiratory disease that has been described as having symptoms similar to the flu, with the World Health Organization stating on their website that around 80% who get the coronavirus recover “without needing special treatment.” The WHO said that older persons and those with underlying health conditions seem to be more vulnerable. The coronavirus has infected over 294,000 people worldwide since the outbreak started, with 12,944 dying from the disease, according to WHO numbers on Sunday.
However, the death rates have varied significantly from country to country. In Israel, while over 1,000 have been infected, just one person has died, according to numbers published by Haaretz on Sunday.
The Palestinians, meanwhile, have their own cases. The WAFA Palestinian news agency reported on Sunday that their figure had increased to 59 cases, including the husband of a man whose wife was being treated for coronavirus. The wife was receiving medical care in an Israeli hospital.
Hospital care is just one more way Israel is working with the Palestinians on this issue. Israel’s coordination with the Palestinians has reached Gaza as well. The COGAT Twitter feed reported that hundreds of testing kits were transferred into Gaza on Sunday. In addition, 1,000 protective suits and 100 liters of sanitizer gel was delivered in coordination with COGAT to Judea and Samaria, which the Palestinians call the West Bank.
“The health of all citizens in the region stands above all, and is in our top priority,” said Maj. Shefer in the video posted to Twitter. “We will continue in collaboration with the PA in a joint effort to eradicate the continuous spread of the virus. I am full of hope that we will succeed for the sake of the health of us all.”
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, March 22, 2020)