‘Senseless statements’: IDF slams PA’s Coronavirus-related incitement, warns of consequences  

April 19, 2020 by Aryeh Savir - TPS
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The IDF issued a stern condemnation of the Palestinian Authority (PA) over its utilization of the global Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to incite against Israel, despite Israel’s close aid to the PA in its war against the virus and warned of repercussions.

Incoming Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Kamil Abu Rokan at Tomb of Samuel near Jerusalem. May 01, 2018. Photo by Hillel Maeir/TPS

Maj. Gen. Kamil Abu Rukun, head of the IDF’s Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), highlighted the army’s “effort to help the Palestinian arena to cope with the spread of the Coronavirus in the region.”

“Unfortunately, in recent weeks, we have witnessed and exposed a number of baseless allegations from senior Palestinian officials, to the point of hateful statements and slander against the IDF, the defence establishment, the State of Israel and the Israeli public,” he stated Friday.

He listed several such prevalent libels, including one that alleged that soldiers were spitting on car windshields to spread the virus, and “other wild and racist accusations against Israel and the Jewish people falsely claiming that we are responsible for the epidemic’s spread and are even hindering the PA’s efforts to contain it.”

PA Prime Minister Mohammed A-Shtayye earlier this month accused Israel of Corona crimes, saying that “the real weak point in our fight against Corona is the Israeli occupation and Israeli policy that is trying to sabotage our efforts to protect our people.”

A-Shtayye dismissed the Israeli aid as “patronage” and asked Israel to “leave us alone.”

Last month, Arab-Israel Member of Knesset (MK) Ahmed Tibi condemned the phenomenon of “IDF soldiers spitting on every Palestinian vehicle” with the intention of infecting Palestinians with Corona. Tibi based his accusations on a statement supposedly made by Shtayyeh.

TPS has reported on several other such libels and Coronavirus-related defamations.

Abu Rukun slammed the PA’s conduct and warned that “these disgraceful statements are groundless and completely contradict the reality and Israeli willingness to assist, as far as possible, in regional efforts to curb the spread of the virus in Israel and the Palestinian arena.”

For instance, the IDF last week transferred 88 tons of medical supplies through the Kerem Shalom Crossing into the Gaza Strip.

Thousands of COVID-19 test kits have been transferred to Gaza through COGAT’s Coordination and Liaison Unit and to Judea and Samaria through the Civil Administration, as well as thousands of personal protective equipment (PPE) kits for medical staff and disinfectant material.

COGAT has coordinated training sessions for many medical professions from the PA given by Israelis.

In addition, the passage of dozens of lorries carrying medical equipment, medications and cleaning materials, donated by various international bodies, has been coordinated by COGAT.

“We see these statements and these accusations as crossing a red line, and hurting the great efforts being made in Israel for the common challenge and crisis that is affecting the entire region,” he said, calling on the PA leadership to retract “the senseless statements” while warning that the continued incitement “could have implications for different areas.”

In a meeting with UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov on Thursday, Abu Rukun said that “as a national-security body, we have a significant role in assisting the spread of the coronavirus in Judea and Samaria.”

“The State of Israel, through COGAT, will continue to assist in the battle to halt the spread of Coronavirus in the Palestinian territories. We are doing this through giving assistance, coordination and dialogue and cooperation to the best of our abilities with the Palestinian health system and the international community.”

Israel has significantly assisted the PA in its struggle to stem the spread of the virus, and the UN Secretary-General António Guterres has praised the cooperation between Israel and the PA on the issue.

Speaking last month, Guterres stated that “Israelis and Palestinians are a prime example of cooperation in the fight against Corona.”

Civil Administration Health Coordinator Dalia Basa said last month that “bacteria and viruses do not stop at the border, and the spread of the dangerous virus in Judea and Samaria can also jeopardize the health of the residents of Israel.”

Israel will continue to assist the PA “both as an Israeli interest and for humanitarian reasons,” she added.

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