Palestinian leaders smear Israel, accuse it of attacking with coronavirus

Expert on Palestinian Authority incitement says PA leaders accusing Israel of infecting Palestinians is a continuation of their standard anti-Israel narrative.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

The Palestinian leadership is purposefully using anti-Israel propaganda to deflect public attention from their lack of preparedness to deal with the coronavirus medical crisis, a media watchdog group said Monday.

Accusing Israel of being responsible for the spread of the epidemic in the Palestinian territories is simply part of the standard daily incitement against Israel, said Maurice Hirsch, Director of Legal Strategies at Palestinian Media Watch, a non-profit that monitors Palestinian media and society.

“They blame Israel for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it supports their general narrative that Israel is responsible for all the ills of the world. Jew hatred par excellence,” Hirsch told World Israel News.

Along with the blame, the PA’s official newspaper, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, regularly publishes anti-Israel articles, including cartoons showing Israel attacking Palestinians with the coronavirus. A cartoon published April 9 showed an Israeli soldier in a settlement firing corona “bullets” at Palestinians with a caption saying that “the settlements have become hotbeds of infection.”

“The PA has systematically failed to create any medical infrastructure. It is completely unprepared to deal with a potentially huge medical crisis. In order to deflect the blame that will undoubtedly come, the PA leadership automatically blames Israel.”

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In an April 4 Al-Hayat Al-Jadida article, a Fatah official accused Israel of trying to “thwart the Palestinian government’s efforts to fight the coronavirus,” and on March 27 the independent paper Ma’an quoted PA Health Minister Mai Al-Kaila accusing Israel of “a blatant violation of human rights and international conventions” for “abandoning” Palestinian workers suspected of being infected.

Hirsch, a former senior prosecutor in the IDF’s legal department who has seen Palestinian incitement firsthand for decades, said one of the biggest problems is that the Palestinian leadership incites with impunity because they know they can get away with it.

“In the same way as Israel ignores the constant incitement in the PA schools and media, the PA knows that Israel will also ignore this threat,” Hirsch said, referring to a Channel 11 news report in which Israel threatened to stop the movement of PA officials but not stop its coordination with the PA, training of PA staff or stopping the PA from operating in areas in which it shouldn’t be.

Hirsch said the Palestinian officials are causing long-term damage with their rhetoric that will have an impact on a population frightened by the crisis.

“Corona will long have passed, but the libels they are spreading are going to have long-term effects. They are completely poisoning whatever small part of the well there was that remained somewhat clean.”