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Israel closes coronavirus testing centre in occupied East Jerusalem

April 16, 2020 at 3:56 pm

Health officials set up a test unit for drivers as a precaution against coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic in Jerusalem on 30 March 2020 [Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency]

Israeli occupation soldiers raided and shut down a coronavirus testing clinic in occupied East Jerusalem last night and arrested four people, the Daily Sabah reported.

No explanation was provided by the Israeli soldiers for the closure, however the Haaretz daily newspaper wrote that the clinic was closed due to its collaboration with the Palestinian Authority (PA).

The makeshift clinic was set up on Tuesday in the Palestinian neighbourhood of Silwan and operated with help from the PA, who provided it with coronavirus test kits.

“There is a shortage of coronavirus tests in Silwan, where doctors say there are 40 confirmed cases and where overcrowded living conditions could lead to a rapid spread of the virus,” the clinic’s director told Haaretz.

READ: Gaza resumes coronavirus testing amid shortages

Farhi Ebu Diab, a resident of Silwan who also spoke to Haaretz said: “The Israeli administration does not help us. And it does not allow us to receive aid from others.”

In response to the forced closure, Joint List MK Ofer Cassif condemned the invasion, saying it was to everyone’s benefit that virus tests be carried out.

Coronavirus spreading in the Middle East - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Coronavirus spreading in the Middle East – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

“The police raid on the coronavirus testing center in Silwan is inhumane,” he said. “Preventing the virus spread is a joint interest and if Israel doesn’t do the checks it must at least enable testing by others.”

Cassif added he had asked Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan to allow the clinic to continue to operate or to alternatively set up an alternative testing unit instead.

The doctors who volunteer in Silwan have recently warned of a possible outbreak of the disease in the neighbourhood, as Palestinians are combating the coronavirus epidemic with very scarce resources.

READ: How a pro-Israel ‘Spiritual Diplomacy’ event became a COVID-19 super spreader in South Africa