The Palestine Liberation Organisation has warned that Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem have become epicentres of the coronavirus pandemic, threatening nearby Palestinian cities, towns and villages.
The PLO’s National Office for the Defence of Land and Resistance of Settlement added in its weekly report that the Palestinian Authority has called on Palestinian labourers who work in the settlements to stay at home because of the risk. The virus has apparently surfaced in Palestinian residential areas where people who work in the settlements live.
According to PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh, the settlements are both a loophole and a challenge to the Palestinians in the battle to curb the spread of the virus.
In its report, the PLO noted that the settlers have escalated their aggression against the Palestinians, taking advantage of the coronavirus lockdown to damage hundreds of trees across the occupied territory. The Israeli security forces do nothing to stop them or enforce the lockdown.
The PA announced a state of emergency in the Palestinian territories last month to combat the Covid-19 outbreak. Nevertheless, the Israeli authorities have since demolished 40 buildings belonging to Palestinians or forced their owners to demolish them. A further 260 buildings have been damaged.
When demolition orders are served on Palestinians, the Israeli occupation authorities make the owners pay for the destruction of their own homes if they are not prepared to knock the buildings down themselves.