‘Medical annexation’ of PA areas may be necessary in coronavirus battle, Israel health official says

The Ministry of Health is worried that coronavirus cases in PA-areas under-reported. The PA claims that the IDF is intentionally spreading the virus.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

As the overall rate of coronavirus infection in Israel declines, an official from the Israeli Ministry of Health has stated that a “medical annexation” of the PA areas may be necessary to win the battle against the pandemic.

Speaking to Channel 12 news, the official said that the Palestinian Authority is an “epidemiological black hole” where the true extent of the pandemic is unknown. The PA has reported 107 cases in its jurisdiction, but the unnamed official suspects that the real number is significantly higher.

The official says that he saw a huge potential for the virus to spread in Judea and Samaria, despite the PA imposing two-week lockdowns on some villages and cities.

He said he believed that in order to fight the pandemic effectively, Israel should consolidate forces and tools with the PA and take over the testing and treatment of all coronavirus patients in PA-controlled areas.

Former Director of the Ministry of Health Dr. Gabi Barabash said, “The PA is an inseparable part of what happens within Israel. I’m speaking specifically about eastern Jerusalem, where people are coming and going freely. What’s happening there will affect what happens in the rest of Israel.”

He continued, “The PA is making huge efforts, and we are not doing enough to help them. We need to help them do surveys so they can keep track of what is actually going on. Whatever is happening there will eventually reach us, and we need to help them control what’s going on in their areas.”

On Tuesday, Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon asked the UN to condemn statements made by PA Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh that implied Israel was intentionally spreading the coronavirus throughout Judea and Samaria via IDF soldiers.

“At this time, despite Israel’s aid to the Palestinian Authority, we hear inciting comments coming from the Palestinian prime minister, who accuses IDF soldiers of spreading coronavirus to the PA,” he said. “There is no place for such senseless statements by the leadership of the PA. The UN must condemn these remarks.”

Earlier in the week, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nikolai Mladenov praised Israeli-Palestinian collaboration in managing the pandemic.

“The coordination that has been put in place and the joint commitment to tackle the threat to both populations are exemplary,” he said.

“The UN Country Team, led by the Deputy Special Coordinator and the World Health Organization, is working closely with all partners and the authorities to ensure coordinated assistance to the health networks dealing with the spread of the virus in the West Bank and to support preparedness in Gaza,” Mladenov said.