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Occupied Palestinian Territory (oPt): COVID-19 Emergency Situation Report 8 (5 – 11 May 2020)

Situation Report
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  • 15 new COVID-19 cases; no new deaths recorded.

  • Palestinian workers in Israel to be covered by health insurance, following a court petition.

  • Revised Inter-Agency Response Plan for COVID-19 crisis is 50 per cent funded.

Situation Overview

As of 11 May, some 547 Palestinians are confirmed to have contracted COVID-19 in oPt, including 172 in East Jerusalem, 355 in the remainder of the West Bank and 20 in the Gaza Strip. This is an increase of 15 compared to last week, with no new deaths recorded. In total, since the start of the epidemic, 382 cases have recovered.

According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health (MoH), since the onset of the pandemic, 42,417 laboratory samples have been tested. Some 14,875 Palestinians are in quarantine at home, or in designated facilities for monitoring purposes. The cumulative number of Palestinian in quarantine since the onset is 62,071.

The Ministry of Health (MoH) and the humanitarian community continues to address the critical gaps in supplies, including testing kits, personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators and essential Intensive Care Unit (ICU) equipment. The State of Emergency across the oPt, originally declared on 5 March, has been extended again until early June. In both the West Bank and Gaza Strip, a decline in public observance of regulations is reported, and WHO continues to encourage people to adhere to the recommended measures, including physical distancing and personal hygiene measures.

In light of the negative impact of the prolonged lockdown on the Palestinian economy, the Government of Israel has agreed to transfer NIS 800 million to the Palestinian Authority (PA), as an advance on the tax revenues which Israel collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority. The money will be transferred in four monthly instalments, starting from the end of May.

On 11 May, the Humanitarian Coordinator for the oPt, along with the UNICEF Special Representative and the Head of the UN Human Rights Office, issued a joint statement expressing serious concern over the Israeli authorities’ continued detention of Palestinian children, who are placed at heightened risk of contracting COVID-19. The statement called for the immediate release of all children in detention, including Palestinian children, and a moratorium on new admissions into detention facilities.

West Bank

The daily curfew from 19.00 until early the following morning imposed by the PA since the beginning of Ramadan, continues.

There are unconfirmed reports that further restrictions may be imposed, in advance of the expected return to the West Bank of the thousands of labourers currently in Israel, for the Eid al Fitr holiday on 23 May. Following a petition by three Israel human rights organizations to the Israeli High Court of Justice, the Israeli State Attorney announced on 6 May that Israeli employers must provide their Palestinian labourers with health insurance for their treatment in clinics or hospitals, if required, as well as adequate accommodation, as specified in newly issued emergency regulations.

Mobile health staff have been able to temporarily resume services to three Palestinian Bedouin communities in the ‘Seam Zone’ in the Qalqiliya governorate, which had been suspended since the beginning of April. In the Qalqiliya area also, Palestinian farmers who own land in the closed area behind the Barrier (the ‘Seam Zone’) have been permitted to regain access to this land. However, in the Jenin and Salfit governorates, access remains restricted, due to the continuing revocation of permits and the non-opening of agricultural gates.

In East Jerusalem, COVID-19 cases continue to be managed by the East Jerusalem Hospital Network (EJHN) and Israeli hospitals. Despite donor pledges, the EJHN hospitals are still in need of medical supplies and equipment to be fully prepared to receive COVID-19 patients. The access of Palestinians holding West Bank IDs to East Jerusalem hospitals remains severely restricted, with only emergency cases and cancer patients granted permits.

Citing the lack of building permits, the Israeli authorities demolished another Palestinian-owned, livelihood-related structure in Area C of the West Bank. An increased incidence in settler violence during the crisis continues to be a principal concern, with ongoing attacks by Israeli settlers, vandalism against Palestinian vehicles and olive trees, and physical attacks on Palestinian farmers during the reporting period.

Gaza Strip

During the reporting period, an additional three new cases were detected in Gaza. This brings the total of COVID-19 cases to 20, of which six are active. Almost 7,100 samples have been taken in Gaza since the start of the pandemic. The number of active quarantine centres has declined from 19 to nine since last week, with the number of people in the facilities dropping from approximately 1,800 to 461. The provision of health care continues to be disrupted by the shutting down 23 out of the 49 primary health care centres, due to the diversion of human resources to respond to COVID-19-related issues.

The Rafah Crossing with Egypt remained closed in both directions. However, the Egyptian authorities have announced that the crossing will open between 12 and 14 May in one direction, to allow for the return to Gaza of up to 1,500 Palestinians, who will be quarantined for 21 days. This will be the first opening of the crossing since mid-April, when about 1,600 people returned to Gaza. In addition, up to 300 Palestinians currently in Jordan are expected to cross via the Allenby Bridge over the next three weeks and return to Gaza through the Erez Crossing. The movement of goods from Israel and Egypt has continued as previously, including the entry of restricted (“dual use”) items via the Israeli-controlled Kerem Shalom Crossing.

Inter-Agency Response Plan – Funding Status

So far, $21.2 million, 50% per cent of the amount requested in the Response Plan has been raised. Including resources outside the Response Plan, almost $38 million have been mobilized to support COVID-19 related response activities in oPt.

A considerable part of the increase in funding for this week consists in an internal loan of $5 million obtained by WFP. The loan aims at providing the required resources to respond to the food security elements of the COVID-19 Response Plan which have not been funded so far. An additional contribution in support of food security, more than $800.000, was provided by France.

NGOs and INGOs managed to mobilize more than $900.000 to fund the requirements of the response plan.

Canada, ECHO and Ireland have further increased their contributions. The oPt Humanitarian Fund also approved some reprogramming in support of the COVID-19 response.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.