Refugee Council deplores Israel for not protecting Palestinians during coronavirus crisis

Refugee Council deplores Israel for not protecting Palestinians during coronavirus crisis
The Norwegian Refugee Council has deplored Israel for continuing its brutal occupation in the West Bank which leaves Palestinians vulnerable to coronavirus.
3 min read
15 April, 2020
Israel has occupied the West Bank since 1967 [Getty]

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) has urged Israel to end its destruction of Palestinian homes, which it says contributes to the spread of the novel coronavirus disease.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the NRC deplored Israel for continuing its ongoing occupation against Palestinians, which is putting them at risk of contracting coronavirus on top of the usual violations of their human rights.

"Israel's recent targeting of homes and even water, sanitation and hygiene facilities in the occupied West Bank violates international law and undermines efforts to curb the coronavirus pandemic," NRC said in a statement.

"Since Israel confirmed its first case of Covid-19 on 21 February, the UN reported that the Israeli Civil Administration (ICA) demolished 69 structures in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem." 

Read also: Israeli settlers 'take advantage of Covid-19 lockdown' to vandalise West Bank cemetery

"This forcibly displaced 63 people and affected 417 others. The structures included 28 residential properties and seven water, sanitation and hygiene facilities. Donor states had provided a third of the destroyed or seized structures as humanitarian relief," the statement added. 

Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967 in a move that was never recognised by the international community.

Israeli forces and settlers routinely harass Palestinians in the occupied territories by harming and killing civilians, demolishing homes, poisoning livestock, vandalising property and other forms of violence. 

The NRC said that it is Israel's responsibility as an occupying force to ensure Palestinians are being protected during the coronavirus epidemic.

"It is Israel's legal obligation to protect the health and life of Palestinians under occupation," said Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the NRC said.

"We urge Israeli authorities to immediately cease the unlawful destruction and seizure of property in the West Bank, including humanitarian relief items. This is not the time to undermine global efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus."

Israel has been accused of deliberately spreading coronavirus among Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

Israeli soldiers were caught spitting on the doors of Palestinian homes in the West Bank city of Hebron, in an alleged attempt to spread coronavirus.

According to CCTV camera footage on the streets of the Hebron obtained by Anadolu News Agency on Wednesday, Palestinian residents recorded Israeli soldiers spitting on the doors and close to shops and cars.

Suzan Owawi, a member of the Hebron Municipality Council, accused Israeli settlers and troops of deliberately trying to infect members of the Palestinian community.

"Residents of Beit Ummar town north of Hebron had found boxes thrown into the main street of the town by Israeli Defense Forces. When we checked, the box was filled with used medical devices such as masks and injections," Owawi said.

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