Middle East Monitor / April 23, 2020
While Israel and the Palestinian Authority were cooperating to curb the spread of the coronavirus Covid-19, occupation state and settler violence continued unhindered. The latest bi-weekly report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the occupied Palestinian territories (OCHA) reveals a decline, but not a complete ending, of Israeli human rights violations.
Settler attacks against Palestinians and their property, however, have increased by 80 per cent since the beginning of March. Over 670 trees were vandalised in Hebron, Ramallah and Bethlehem. In Area C of the occupied West Bank, Israeli forces uprooted 1,200 trees, claiming that they were planted on state land. The report also notes the deliberate damage to water-related infrastructure, despite the importance of access to such a basic human right, especially during the pandemic.
Despite the decision by the Israeli government to halt demolitions unless the structures were deemed a security threat, 18 Palestinian dwellings were demolished recently, due to “the lack of building permits.” Demolitions are a political choice, not a security necessity.
As expected, the PA’s references to such violations have been almost negligible, unless made in an attempt to score points for citing international law violations to a world which refuses to listen. While the pandemic took precedence, Israel was still raiding Palestinian houses and detaining civilians. In terms of Israeli violations, the PA’s virus cooperation achieved nothing, not even a safe period to prevent Palestinian displacement.
Now that annexation is back on the agenda and the US is lending its support to Israel by stating that the decision lies solely with the settler-colonial state and any opinions will be divulged to the new coalition government privately, the international community will most likely embark on another round of clamouring for negotiations based upon the two-state compromise. To diminish Palestinian rights further, the pandemic cooperation at a political and security level might be referenced, despite the fact that it ultimately failed to protect vulnerable Palestinian civilians from possible exposure to the virus due to Israeli violations, as the OCHA report revealed.
After a brief stint in the spotlight for pandemic cooperation, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas is now threatening, once again, to cancel all agreements with Israel if the annexation plans are acted upon. It’s an empty threat. The PA is several steps behind, as usual. It fails to take into consideration all the Israeli violations, such as those outlined by OCHA, as part of the process leading to the current annexation threat. By affirming the international community’s tactic to differentiate between violations committed by Israel, the PA has helped to facilitate US-Israeli plans to steal more land from the people of Palestine.
OCHA’s reports have been neglected for far too long, even by the UN which affirms its bias by refusing to act upon the data gathered by its own officials and stop the colonial project in Palestine. For decades, the Palestinian cause has been depleted by an international agenda that promotes awareness without meaningful political action. Far from being beneficial to the Palestinians in the long term, the coronavirus cooperation has proved to be another Israeli exercise in political exploitation.
Ramona Wadi is an independent researcher, freelance journalist, book reviewer and blogger; her writing covers a range of themes in relation to Palestine, Chile and Latin America