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Reports: PA Prime Minister Accuses IDF of Intentionally Spreading Coronavirus to Palestinians

[additional-authors]
March 30, 2020
WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 30: U.S. Special Envoy for Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations Martin Indyk (R) walks with Palestinian negotiator Mohammad Shtayyeh (L) and Israeli negotiator Yitzhak Molcho back to their vehicles after a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and President Barack Obama in the West Wing of the White House on July 30, 2013 in Washington, DC. The preliminary talks with Secretary Kerry are expected to continue through tomorrow to establish a procedural plan for negotiations in the coming months. (Photo by T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images)

Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh alleged on March 29 that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) are intentionally spreading coronavirus to Palestinians, according to online reports.

Ynet News reported that Shtayyeh said that there have been “testimonies that some of the [Israeli] soldiers are trying to spread the virus on car handles.” He added: “This is racism and hatred of people who long for the death of the other. We will record this in the list of crimes [against Israel].”

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted, “Shameful that, in the midst of a global crisis, PM Mohammed Shtayyeh is blaming IDF soldiers for spreading #COVID19 in Palestinian territories. This #scapegoating is disgraceful & a modern version of blood libel, an age-old #antisemitic canard.”

He argued in a follow-up tweet that Shtayyeh’s comments are even more infuriating when considering that the Israelis and Palestinians have been collaborating on their responses to the coronavirus; United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Process and Personal Representative of the Secretary-General to the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority Nikolay Mladenov said in a March 28 statement that the partnership was “strong.”

Throughout March, the PA — including Shtayyeh — compared Israel with the coronavirus on several occasions, saying that Palestinians are facing the coronavirus and the “occupation virus,” according to Palestinian Media Watch, a nongovernmental media watchdog group. The PA acknowledged the cooperation between the Israelis and Palestinians against the coronavirus on March 17, announcing that the two sides had established a joint operations room to fight the disease.

On March 25, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) delivered 3,000 test kits and 50,000 masks from the World Health Organization (WHO) to the PA.

“Once more, COGAT is cooperating closely with the World Health Organization to make assistance possible in the Palestinian Authority’s struggle against the coronavirus outbreak,” COGAT Maj. Gen. Kamil Abu Rukun said in a statement at the time. “I commend the teamwork of the international organizations in this important shared endeavor, I wish steady good health to all the residents of the region, and I hope that we will continue to work together in the fight to halt the spread of this dangerous virus.”

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