HAIFA, Tuesday, April 14, 2020 (WAFA) - In response to the urgent Israeli Supreme Court petition that Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel submitted last week, Israel committed yesterday to open health clinics and coronavirus testing centers for some 150,000 Palestinians living in East Jerusalem neighborhoods beyond Israel’s separation wall.
Israeli health authorities have committed to opening clinics and testing centers via the health fund clinics in Shufat refugee camp and Kufr Aqab neighborhood starting today, said Adalah in a press release.
Adalah attorneys Suhad Bishara and Myssana Morany filed the Supreme Court petition on 8 April, in coordination with the Civic Coalition for Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem, on behalf of Adalah, Munir Zaghier, the Chairman of the Northern Neighborhoods Committee (Kufr Aqab), four residents of Kufr Aqab, and four NGOs in the Shufat refugee camp: the Palestinian Child Center, the Feminist Center, the Al Quds Association for Training and Special Education, and the Youth Center.
The organizations demanded testing centers or mobile testing centers for the neighborhoods’ residents; training for local clinics in these neighborhoods to conduct the tests; and other remedies that would make virus detection tests accessible.
Shufat refugee camp and Kufr Aqab fall under the jurisdiction of Israel’s Jerusalem Municipality but they are located beyond Israel’s separation wall and receive no municipal services – including no access to coronavirus testing. These areas are among the city’s most overcrowded and densely-populated, and this puts the 150,000 residents – who hold Israeli-issued identity cards – at grave risk for contracting and spreading coronavirus. The Israeli Health Ministry is responsible for ensuring the health and well-being of residents, as the Palestinian Health Ministry is banned from providing services there.
Israeli authorities, in their response to Adalah’s petition, themselves included data from Israel’s Magen David Adom national emergency ambulance service indicating that of the 2,600 Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem neighborhoods examined at a coronavirus testing site in Jabal al-Mukabber only 20 were residents of Kufr Aqab and just five were residents of the Shufat refugee camp.
“Despite the delay and the possibility that these measures to open health clinics and coronavirus testing centers come too late, Israel’s commitment to fulfilling some of our demands is an important step,” Adalah commented on the state’s response. “However, it is not enough. We will certainly monitor the implementation of these commitments, and we look forward to the rest of our demands being met in order to ensure the health of the Palestinian population in these areas of East Jerusalem.”
Adalah remains extremely concerned that Israel’s actions are coming too late, especially given that Israeli authorities had not examined the extent of the spread of the virus until today in Kufr Aqab, Shufat refugee camp, and the adjacent neighborhoods, said the press release.
The health network which takes samples in each region to determine the extent of the virus’ spread had not conducted tests in these neighborhoods and there was no confirmed information published by Israel’s Health Ministry as of today, added Adalah.
“In the absence of coronavirus testing over the past month and a half, Israel does not have the slightest idea about the extent of the virus’ spread in these Palestinian neighborhoods of Jerusalem behind the separation wall. There is an urgent need for additional measures,” said Adalah attorneys Suhad Bishara and Myssana Morany.