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Palestinian Authority compares Israel to coronavirus

Despite Israel’s cooperation with the Palestinian Authority in fighting the coronavirus, the PA has made numerous statements comparing Israel to the deadly virus itself and for weeks didn’t mention Israel’s help at all.

Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) has discovered that just last week, official PA daily Al Hayat Al Jadida published an editorial comparing Israel to “all of nature’s viruses,” stating it is “more dangerous”. The editorial read: “Just as we will overcome the coronavirus, we will certainly overcome the occupation’s viruses that are more dangerous than all of nature’s viruses.”

Furthermore, two days ago, the same paper published a cartoon showing an Israeli tank with spikes protruding from its turret shaped like the peplomer spikes on the coronavirus viral envelope. The tank’s main cannon, also in the shape of a peplomer, is pointed at a Muslim holding a baby and walking away from the tank.

Two weeks ago, PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh posted a video on his official Facebook page in which he said that the PA was dealing with both “the coronavirus and the occupation virus”.

Corona virus “is one of Almighty Allah’s soldiers,” says preacher on PA TV:

Similarly, in a video on her official Facebook page Ramallah Governess Laila Ghannam compared life with Israel to life with coronavirus, stating that as “Palestinians” managed to live through the intifadas, so it will “live through the coronavirus”. She said: “Coronavirus is not more difficult than the occupation, not more difficult than the siege.”

PMW senior analyst Nan Jacques Zilberdik said: “For weeks, PA media has been immersed in the coronavirus story, including occasional demonization of Israel – without mentioning Israel’s efforts in helping the PA. Finally yesterday, the PA Government Spokesman informed Palestinians of the vast cooperation between Israel and the PA in fighting coronavirus, including having established a joint situation room to deal with this pandemic.”

Despite this announcement, in an article published yesterday in Al Hayat Al Jadida, Fatah accused Israel of “helping the coronavirus” and showing “indifference regarding the spread of the virus among the Palestinians” when Israel arrested some young PA subjects on suspicion of illegal activity, including graffiti. Fatah claimed they were “disinfecting public institutions”.

Earlier this month, a host on official PA TV accused Israel of demonization of the PA, alleging that Israel has stated that it caught coronavirus from PA-occupied Bethlehem. In an episode of Israel Parenthetically, the host demonized Israel, accusing Israel of “exporting” coronavirus to the PA.

These allegations follow a sermon broadcast two days earlier by official PA TV in which the preacher taught that the coronavirus is “one of Almighty Allah’s soldiers.”

Furthermore, the PA has proclaimed itself a master of combating the coronavirus. Both an editorial and an op-ed in official PA daily Al Hayat Al Jadida claimed the PA is so good at dealing with the crisis that it has been suggested in Israel that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu learn from the PA in Ramallah how to fight the virus.

Meanwhile, among other things, the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) has published information about coronavirus and guidelines on prevention and protection from the virus in Arabic, available to the entire PA population.

Israel also provided the PA with 20 tons of disinfectant material and coronavirus testing kits, and has arranged joint training sessions for Israeli and PA medical personnel.

Note: A peplomer is a glycoprotein spike on a viral capsid or viral envelope. These protrusions will only bind to certain receptors on the host cell; they are essential for both host specificity and viral infectivity. The term “peplomer” is typically used to refer to a grouping of heterologous proteins on the virus surface that function together.

Header: The peplomers (red and orange) of a coronavirus.