Just Released: The Double Lock Down: Palestine Under Occupation and Covid-19
Written by the Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb, President
Dar al-Kalima University and the Diyar Consortium
Bethlehem, May 21, 2020
We are delighted to present this booklet with eleven contributions by prominent public figures in Palestine. We hope that these eleven papers will reveal different aspects of life in Palestine under COVID-19. This pandemic is changing both the global and the local scene in Palestine. As the world seeks an effective global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Palestinians hope for an effective international coalition to bring an end to occupation. Just as we continue our struggle to defeat the corona virus, we will continue our work for justice, peace and a life with dignity.
The first section of the booklet focuses on the political aspects with an opening paper by the Palestinian Chief Negotiator, Dr. Saeb Erakat, on the impact of COVID-19 on international relations and its potential impact on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The paper is followed by two case studies: Dr. Bernard Sabella, member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, looks at Jerusalem, a city that Israel declared united under its sovereignty. However, during the pandemic, the city is revealed as divided into two different sets of medical and social infrastructure and services. The second case is presented by Xavier Abu Eid who examines the Israeli annexation plan promoted by President Trump that strangles the city of Bethlehem and confiscates two strategic areas west of the city: the Cremisan Valley and Makhrour.
These papers are followed by a paper by Dr. Dalal Iriqat who examines Israeli politics during COVID-19. The arrival of the virus coincided with a third Israeli election and the forming of a new ‘unity government’ that may have a significant impact on Palestinians.
The fifth paper by Dr. Faisal Awartani looks at the statistics related to COVID-19 and compares Palestine’s data with that of the rest of the world, concluding with relevant recommendations for international agencies and governments. Dr. Maher Deeb, the Medical Director of Saint Joseph Hospital in Jerusalem, gives then a firsthand account of his experience with the pandemic.
The second section of the booklet has five papers: The first is by Hani Abu Dayyeh, a leading figure in the Palestinian tourism industry. It analyses the devastating effects of the pandemic on the Palestinian tourism industry in general, particularly the city of Bethlehem which may need two to three years to recover. The second paper by Ms. Randa Siniora provides a gendered perspective on violence against woman. Palestinian women have been exposed to two different forms of violence, one by the Israeli occupation and a second from a Palestinian Arab patriarchal society, with the pandemic complicating domestic violence.
The third paper in this section by Ambassador Issa Kassissieh examines the performance of churches in Jerusalem in dealing with COVID-19, especially the pandemic measures implemented during the holiest week of Easter, and the dilemma of churches in relation to the civil authorities. A paper by Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb gives a snapshot of new forms of religious practices that have developed in response to the shutdown of churches caused by the corona virus. He explains short and long term impact that these changes might have on how religion is lived and experienced. The final paper by Dr. Varsen Aghabekian is a firsthand testimony reflecting the intersection of politics and health by a Jerusalemite who loses a father during the pandemic and within the larger context of occupation. The fight for life, dignity, identity and peace does not cease with death but remains a struggle carried on by one generation after the other.