Jerusalem mayor accuses Israel of neglecting Palestinian hospitals

Health officials set up a test unit for drivers as a precaution against coronavirus pandemic in Jerusalem (Mostafa Alkharouf - Anadolu Agency)

Middle East Monitor  /  April 8, 2020

Israel is failing to fulfil its responsibilities toward Palestinians living in occupied East Jerusalem as the highly contagious coronavirus continues to spread, warned Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Leon.

Leon has accused Israel’s Ministry of Health of neglecting Palestinian hospitals in the occupied eastern section of the city, after it failed to deliver essential equipment it promised to provide, reported Haaretz.

In a letter to Health Ministry Director General Moshe Bar Siman Tov, he stated: “I would like to warn you regarding the serious shortage of medical equipment at the hospitals in East Jerusalem, particularly protective equipment and equipment to conduct coronavirus testing. This is despite repeated promises on the part of your (ministry).”

The health care system in Jerusalem as a whole could collapse “in light of the inability of the hospitals in the east of the city to sustain the concerted efforts by all hospitals during this period,” Leon warned.

Abdel Qader Husseini, the president of the East Jerusalem Hospitals Network, told Al-Monitor only two hospitals in Jerusalem are equipped to deal with coronavirus patients. “The Makassed Hospital, which has 22 beds isolated for coronavirus cases, and the Saint Joseph Hospital, which closed its surgery department and converted 28 beds for coronavirus cases,” he explained.

Husseini said that Israel, as an occupying power, is responsible for the health of Palestinians yet its health officials have done little to help.

He also added that Jerusalem hospitals would be in better shape if the United States had not cut aid for Palestinian patients treated at their hospitals. In 2018, the Donald Trump administration cut the United States’ annual $25 million in aid to Jerusalem hospitals in an attempt to pressure the Palestinian leadership to accept its one-sided “peace plan”.

Leon said that the hospitals had considerable financial problems before the coronavirus pandemic hit “and now have to make major and immediate expenditures to prepare for treating coronavirus patients.”