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(en) Canada, Collectif Emma Goldman - [Palestine] Interview on containment at Halhul during the COVID-19 pandemic (fr, it, pt)[machine translation]

Date Wed, 13 May 2020 09:18:57 +0300


If we have decided today to write about Palestine, it is because it presents a very unique situation compared to other states. On the one hand because its existence is not recognized internationally, but also because the colonization situation which characterizes it, its dependence on international aid and the fragile health in which a part of its population lives. , induce a management and a particular organization of the institutions and the population to stem the effects of the virus. Furthermore, the establishment of containment may also imply increased pressure from the Israeli state on the Palestinian population. We contacted Raed Abou-Youssef, a character known and recognized in pro-Palestinian circles in France,Al-Sanabel . This notably enabled young Palestinians to return to Palestinian agricultural activity in a period when this activity was perceived as unattractive due to the low income it generated and the particular risks faced by farmers in Palestine (regular incursions of soldiers into crops that do not hesitate to damage the plants, harassment). Raed has agreed to tell us about the situation in the Hebron area since the containment was put in place.

Text published on the website of the Association France Palestine Solidarité. Link to the original, here .

Harz-Labor Journal (HL): Can you explain to us from when you started hearing about the coronavirus in the region, and in what context? How was it perceived by people?

Raed Abou-Youssef (RAY): We started hearing about the coronavirus on March 5 when we had the first 4 cases. These were workers who worked in a hotel in Bethlehem and who were in contact with Greek tourists.

HL: In this context, who started to implement health measures to deal with the pandemic? Did the Palestinian Authority play a role in this? Has the Israeli state implemented measures for the Palestinians and if so, how have they been implemented?

RAY: The occupation government said it was not their business if there were Palestinian patients from the coronavirus and that it was up to the Palestinian Authority to manage it. Immediately after, the IDF closed the roadblocks around Bethlehem, and it has been going on since March 5. While it was the Palestinian Authority that implemented measures throughout Palestine, for example it prohibited traffic between cities, closed schools and universities.

HL: How long have you been confined? Are the containment measures the same in the different zones (A, B and C)? How does this translate into your daily life, that of children and the elderly? What are you allowed to do, not do? Have you had any feedback on the way the situation was lived in the Hebron region? Are the confinement measures experienced as something imposed from the outside or ultimately is it experienced as a time of opposition to the occupation, insofar as the space you Have you allowed yourself to reorganize your lives?

RAY:The majority of Palestinians have understood the importance of staying at home, because they are aware of the precariousness of the health system since we are still under occupation and our means are weak. Our hospitals cannot accommodate more than 100 patients with coronavirus. Enforcement of the confinement rules is ensured by the Palestinian security services in zones A and B, but in zone C, the population has ensured alone that it has implemented containment measures. The Palestinian people have known the curfew for a long time, during the years 70-80 and even in the early 2000s, we are used to it. People have prepared not to go shopping all the time, farmers can go to work. The only ones who don't understand why we don't go out and go to school anymore,

We are still allowed to go out 4 hours a day but we cannot be more than 5 people in the same place. It is forbidden to go from one city to another, all exits are closed, either by concrete blocks, or by a roadblock controlled by the Palestinian police. It is also prohibited to work in the settlements because there are many sick Israeli settlers. As for the Palestinian workers who work in Israel, they have two choices, either they return home or they stay there, but then they can not return until two months later, you should know that there is now 70,000 Palestinian workers working in Israel, and at the same time there are more than 10,000 patients in Israel.

The question which arises is how these workers can assure their means of living if they do not work any more! The unemployment insurance system does not exist here, this story is very complicated.

HL: By talking to people living in Bethlehem, in the Dheisheh refugee camp, I learned that solidarity networks have been set up. How are people dealing with containment around you? Does your grape cooperative play a special role? If so, can you elaborate a bit on this and explain to us how you organize yourself, the goals you are looking for? How does this translate into everyday life? Can you develop on a concrete example?

RAY: Solidarity between people has started since the beginning of April, farmers in the Jordan Valley send a lot of vegetables to poor villages, the cooperative also donated 70 boxes each containing 4 bottles of grape juice and 2 bottles of debs, a kind of "grape jam".

HL: You work in the field of agriculture, in particular in the production of grapes, how the confinement affected the activity of the farmers in the region of Hebron and the distribution of foodstuffs? Is the situation of agriculture here similar to what is happening in the rest of Palestine?

RAY: Food distribution continues for the moment, but if this story lasts a long time we think that a real problem will happen everywhere in Palestine. Note that 70% of the wheat purchased here comes from the United States ...

HL: Regularly, articles come out to talk about the significant risks that the coronavirus generates on the whole of Palestinian territory, especially on tensions with the Israelis. How is the situation around you? Did the containment and arrival of the virus generate additional tensions with the Israeli settlers and soldiers?

RAY:We have learned from history that if there is a disaster that strikes several peoples, they become united in order to survive, but this is not the case with Israel, "like all capitalist regimes". The arrest of Palestinian activists continues, the demolition of houses is daily and the most dangerous is that the Israeli government takes advantage of the international situation imposed by the coronavirus to gradually annex zone C. The good news is that we do not see not many settlers these days, except yesterday[interview was conducted on April 13]where a small group of settlers tried to uproot olive trees east of Hebron, but the peasants managed to expel them of the place. Palestinian workers who fall ill in Israel, instead of being treated in Israeli hospitals,

HL: In France, there is a lot of questioning about the way in which confinement is organized in prisons, in particular because prisoners are now prohibited from receiving visitors, as in Italy, and that there risks they all get infected. Lawyers have requested that prisoners be released and that they be able to be confined to their homes to limit the risk of spread. For the moment, this has not succeeded and riots have taken place in several prisons. Did you have any information on how confinement translates for Palestinian prisoners? Does confinement change anything in their daily lives, in the movements of solidarity towards prisoners?

RAY: Israel blackouts the media on the situation of Palestinian political prisoners, families no longer visit them, we heard 10 days ago[at the beginning of April]that 4 prisoners were sick. The PA (Palestinian Authority) has appealed to the international community to intervene with the State of Israel asking it to release at least children, women and elderly prisoners, but Israel has not released only a few criminals.

HL: I had another question which dealt with the management by hospitals and health services of the virus. A little over a year ago, Donald Trump stopped American aid to the Palestinian Authority which financed infrastructures such as hospitals and schools, the salaries of caregivers, etc. How do health services manage the arrival of this virus? What does it change compared to usual in the daily life of caregivers? What are the risks of coronavirus for hospitals and sick people?

RAY: The PA has chosen to have a specific hospital in each region for coronavirus patients, this has made it possible to continue treating other patients in other hospitals, but if by chance there are several thousand patients of coronavirus I think we will have a big problem. I think that is why the PA quickly declared a state of emergency.

HL: Finally, do you know how things are going at the moment in Gaza? There were first cases there, very few, insofar as the region is isolated and under blockade, but the population density is very high and access to care is complicated.

At the moment, in Gaza, there are 4 confined sick people. We have managed to limit this number until now because we know that Gaza has been under blockade for years, it is very rare that we leave or enter it. An Israeli journalist said the other day that "Gazans are lucky, they don't travel and no one comes to see them, we have to do like them". As if it was their choice ...

We are very concerned that this disease will attack Gaza because there will be catastrophic consequences. In this band surrounded by Israel and Egypt, they do not even have the means to treat certain classic diseases.

In conclusion, the Palestinian Authority operates thanks to international aid and as many economic experts believe that the coronavirus will cause economic crises on a world level, then the worst has not yet happened.

HL: Would you like to come back to certain things as a conclusion? Would you like to talk about how it goes with your family who is in Jerusalem? Knowing if you have the opportunity, for example, to see your children or how confinement takes place in Jerusalem, is it different or similar to what you live in Halhul?

RAY: Yes, to finish I will tell you what it is to be confined under the occupation. My wife, daughter and son who have just returned from Ukraine are forced to stay in Jerusalem, so my second son who studies in Nablus and I stay in Halhul. We have no right to even visit the other half of the family and it has been like this since February 25.

Listed 18 hours ago by Collectif Emma Goldman

http://ucl-saguenay.blogspot.com/2020/05/palestine-situation-du-confinement.html
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