Fighting Anti-Israeli Bias

Item 7



Claim 20: Israel hinders the Palestinian fight against COVID-19


the Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC), 43rd Session

“Israel should take all necessary protective measures in order to combat the COVID pandemic in line with international law with regards to the right of access to health care for Palestinians who live under occupation…”

Indonesia, 43rd Session

“Israel has used COVID-19 quarantine measures as a smokescreen to expand illegal settlements through nefarious means.”

Mauritania, 45th Session

“Mauritania condemns the acts of the occupying power Israel that undermines the efforts to fight COVID-19 in the Palestinian territories. It arrested doctors and confiscated hospitals…”

Our Response

UN Watch

Israel has been severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The coronavirus does not respect borders and given the proximity of Palestinians to Israeli population centers, it is in Israel’s interest to assist the Palestinian Authority in fighting COVID-19.

Contrary to the statements by Mauritania, Indonesia and the GCC quoted above, “since the start of the crisis,” reported the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in March 2020, “the Palestinian and Israeli authorities have maintained a close, unprecedented cooperation on efforts aimed at containing the epidemic.”[1] According to the UN, “representatives from both ministries of health, as well as from Israel’s Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), have been meeting on a regular basis to agree on matters of mutual concern, such as the understandings concerning Palestinian workers employed in Israel.” The OCHA report noted that as part of these efforts, Israel’s COGAT “is facilitating four trainings for Palestinian medical teams, while the Israeli Ministry of Health donated over 1,000 testing kits and thousands of PPEs to the West Bank and Gaza.”

Likewise, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process praised the Israeli-Palestinian coordination, describing it as “excellent,” in comments made before other members of the Middle East Quartet.[2]

Since then, the level of coordination has declined, as a result of Palestinian intransigence as well as Israel’s difficulties in effectively handling its own coronavirus outbreak. In May, the Palestinian Authority cut ties with Israel, in response to its then-declared annexation plans which were subsequently suspended.[3] The PA’s cutting of ties with Israel further impacted Palestinians seeking medical care in Israeli hospitals for treatments not available in PA areas, who already had been harmed by the PA’s March 2019 decision to cease medical referrals to Israeli hospitals.

According to OCHA, the PA’s suspension of coordination with Israel “has already affected humanitarian operations across the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), including preparedness and response to the COVID-19 pandemic.” [4] Since the beginning of June, the UN agency reported, “the import of essential supplies by humanitarian agencies has been disrupted, affecting some of the major operational organizations, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the UN Development Programme (UNDP), in addition to some NGOs.”

Moreover, the Palestinian Authority on two occasions refused to accept airborne deliveries of medical supplies from the United Arab Emirates “because it was coordinated directly between Israel and them [the UAE],” according to Palestinian civil affairs minister Hussein al-Sheikh.[5] This was in reaction to warming Israel-UAE relations which eventually resulted in normalization.

The PA also falsely claimed that Israel was spreading coronavirus to the Palestinians.[6] If that were true, senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat would not have sought and obtained treatment for coronavirus and related complications in an Israeli hospital, where he received high-level care.[7]

[1] COVID-19 Emergency Situation Report 1, OCHA (March 24, 2020),

[2] COVID-19: UN envoy hails strong Israel-Palestine cooperation, UN News (March 28, 2020),

[3] Steve Hendrix and Sufian Taha, Palestinian leader cuts ties with Israel over annexation plans. His own people feel the pinch., Washington Post (May 30, 2020),

[4] End of Palestinian Authority coordination with Israel in response to annexation threat: decision already impacting medical referrals, The OCHA Humanitarian Bulletin (July 20, 2020),

[5] Palestinians again refuse planeload of virus aid from UAE, Times of Israel (June 11, 2020),

[6] Israel said fuming at PA accusations it’s spreading virus in West Bank, Times of Israel (April 13, 2020),

[7] Intubated and on life support, PA’s Saeb Erekat undergoes bronchostomy, Times of Israel (October 22, 2020),

UN Watch