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Coronavirus under occupation: Israeli forces demolish emergency health clinic for Palestinians

Israeli officials confiscate tents designated for COVID-19 clinic in the northern West Bank [Twitter]

Date of publication: 27 March, 2020

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The confiscation of materials to build a community clinic in a West Bank village demonstrates how the occupation will not let up, even in times of crisis.
Israeli authorities on Thursday entered a Palestinian village in the northern West Bank to confiscate materials designated to build a clinic to deal with the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Officials from the Israeli Civil Administration came to the village of Khirbet Ibziq with a military escort, bulldozer and two trucks equipped with cranes on Thursday morning to demolish community clinic and emergency housing, according to Israeli human rights monitor Btselem.

According to the group, the officials seized poles and sheeting designated to form eight tents, two for a field clinic, two for a mosque, and four for emergency housing for people evacuated from their homes. A power generator, as well as supplies of sand, cement and cinder blocks to be used for the floor of the tents were also confiscated.

Btselem said the villagers were building a first-aid community initiative to deal with the Covid-19 crisis which has paralysed large parts of the southern West Bank. There are 91 confirmed cases so far in the Palestinian terrotories, with one death reported on Wednesday.

Such demolitions go against basic humanitarian principles in the time of crisis, the group said.

Read More: Trapped between Israel's occupation and coronavirus: How are Palestinians coping with the pandemic? 

"As the whole world battles an unprecedented and paralyzing healthcare crisis, Israel's military is devoting time and resources to harassing the most vulnerable Palestinian communities in the West Bank, that Israel has attempted to drive out of the area for decades," said Btselem in a press release.

Israeli arrests continue, in full Hazmat suits

The news comes as videos circulated on social media on Friday purporting to show Palestinians disinfecting cars in Hebron after they were spat on by Israeli soldiers who raided the area in the morning.

Palestinian academic Yara Hawari told The New Arab that these practices are not expected to cease during the health crisis.

Observers have pointed out that the Israeli government is exploiting the health crisis to tighten controls over Palestinians, while continuing and even expediting seizure of Palestinian land and expansion of settlements, as well as keeping many Palestinians in unsanitary detention conditions.

She added that Palestinian medical facilities have been severely underresourced because of decades of military occupation of the West Bank and the siege of the Gaza Strip.

“Whilst this pandemic is hitting all over the world and the virus doesn't necessarily choose its victims, the socio-economic conditions and political realities that people live in has a great impact on how well they’re able to fight or to survive this virus," she said.

In Gaza, "the health sector has been completely obliterated, and even at the best of times they can't deal with even the most basic of health needs for Gazans", she said.

Hawari also pointed out that not only is Israel continuing with demolitions, it has also continued daily raids of Palestinian refugee camps while clad in full Hazmat suits to protect themselves from infection.

“Israel knows that Palestinians are particularly vulnerable these days,” she added. “They haven’t shown any consideration for their human rights and wellbeing in the past and I don’t think we should expect them to consider Palestinian wellbeing in the future or present.”

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