After freezing ties with Israel, Palestinians fear facing COVID-19 alone

Fifty new cases of coronavirus were recorded in the PA in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number to 3,095.

By Baruch Yedid and Aryeh Savir, TPS

The Palestinian Authority (PA) is deeply anxious regarding the number of coronavirus patients in the areas under its control that continue to spike, and as it is forced to contend with the situation on its own after cutting all ties with Israel.

The PA’s Ministry of Health updated Wednesday night that 50 new cases of Coronavirus were recorded in the PA in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number to 3,095.

Some 2,450 cases are still active, and 634 patients have recovered.

Following the sharp rise in the number of cases in the PA, which reached hundreds in the last few days, the PA announced the return to a total lockdown throughout the areas under its control where the movement of people will be curtailed for five days, starting Friday.

A senior PA official told TPS that the situation is getting worse, and now the PA will be forced to deal with the pandemic alone, without coordination with Israel, which will be a real test.

The Palestinian Civil Affairs Committee (PCAC), the body in charge of coordination civil affairs with Israel on behalf of the PA, suspended all coordination with Israel following the PA’s declaration in April that it was freezing coordination with Israel in response to its plan to declare sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria, as stipulated by the US-formulated Deal of the Century peace plan.

In the previous wave of infection, the PA relied on the Israeli health system, and the security coordination mechanism ensured the transfer of medical teams between the PA’s regions. This coordination is now frozen.

The PA announced Wednesday that Fatah’s emergency committees, whose role is to operate where the PA’s security forces cannot, will return to action.

Previously, Israel has delivered medical equipment to the Gaza Strip through the Palestinian Authority and Gazans passed tests to laboratories in Ramallah through Israel. None of this is now active.

The most crutial element is the PA’s refusal to receive an NIS 800 million loan from Israel, without which the PA will not be able to cope with the pandemic.

Israel has significantly assisted the PA in its struggle to stem the spread of the virus, and UN Secretary-General António Guterres has praised the cooperation between Israel and the PA on this issue.

The IDF has transferred tens of tons of medical supplies through the Kerem Shalom Crossing into the Gaza Strip.

Thousands of COVID-19 test kits have been transferred to Gaza through the IDF’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) and to Judea and Samaria through the Civil Administration, as well as thousands of personal protective equipment (PPE) kits for medical staff and disinfectant material.

COGAT has coordinated training sessions for many medical professions from the PA given by Israelis, and has published the Israeli health ministry guidelines on prevention and protection from the virus spread and ways to deal with contagion and outbreak in Arabic.