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Statement by Sarah Muscroft, Head of OCHA in the occupied Palestinian territory, James Heenan, Head of the UN Human Rights Office in the occupied Palestinian territory, and Lucia Elmi, UNICEF Special Representative in State of Palestine
On 19 May 2020, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced that the Palestinian Authority (PA) considered itself absolved of all agreements and understandings it has signed with Israel and the United States. This decision was in response to Israel’s announcement of its intention to annex parts of the West Bank as early as 1 July, subject to the “full agreement” of the current U.S. administration. The threat of annexation has been widely condemned by the international community and the UN Secretary-General has stated that annexation “would constitute a most serious violation of international law, grievously harm the prospect of a two-State solution and undercut the possibilities of a renewal of negotiations.”
“The dump site here ruined our lives. The air we breathe isn’t clean and the environment we live in isn’t healthy,” said Abu Ahmad, a father of seven, who lives in Beit Lahia in northern Gaza, next to an informal dumpsite. “I love Beit Lahia. It used to be an agricultural area, where we could eat what we plant. The water was good as well. Now, the area is damaged, and the aquifer is polluted. I really hate saying this, but I wish I could leave.”
Ahmed, a 50-year-old father of six from Gaza City, was diagnosed in 2018 with advanced colon cancer. Since then, he has been regularly referred to the August Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem for chemotherapy treatment. The suffering related to his disease has been amplified by the uncertainty of the process required to obtain an Israeli-issued exit permit and the hardships of the travel. “It took me about five hours to reach the hospital. It’s physically and mentally exhausting,” Ahmed explains.
The first fatality from COVID-19 in the oPt recorded in the West Bank on 25 March. Further social and movement restrictions introduced in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) Response Plan for COVID-19 seeks US$34m to prevent further transmission of the virus in the oPt.
On 22 March, the Palestinian Authority imposed a curfew in the West Bank for 14 days, obliging people to stay at home, except for the purchase of food and medicine, or in case of emergency. First two COVID-19 cases detected in Gaza; 1,400 people held in 21 quarantine centers across the Strip in precarious conditions. The COVID-19 Inter-agency Response Plan for the coming three months, is less than 23 per cent funded.