Palestine imposes curfew, bans travel as COVID-19 cases soar

Palestine imposes curfew, bans travel as COVID-19 cases soar
Palestinians wearing protective face masks sit in the Old City of the West Bank town of Hebron amid the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic crisis, on July 10, 2020. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 12 July 2020

Palestine imposes curfew, bans travel as COVID-19 cases soar

Palestine imposes curfew, bans travel as COVID-19 cases soar
  • Palestinian Authority imposes night-time, weekend curfew for 14 days
  • Travel will be prohibited daily from 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 am in all governorates

RIYADH: The Palestinian Authority on Sunday introduced a curfew across the occupied West Bank and heavily restricted travel as COVID-19 cases continued to rise.
Hebron, Bethlehem, Ramallah, and Nablus have been “fully closed” for four days and travel between all governorates banned for two weeks.
The curfew will be imposed from 8:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for two weeks “to complete the virus incubation cycle,” Ibrahim Melhem, a government spokesman, said. 
Under the measures, all cities, villages and refugee camps where COVID-19 cases are reported will be locked down.
More than 7,000 people have had the disease diagnosed and 37 have died from it in the Palestinian territories. The health ministry announced on Sunday 349 new cases, almost half of which were in the Hebron area.
“We face a real health threat that requires solidarity and synergy between the national whole, individuals and groups, to reduce the spread of the epidemic, which is on an upward path with the number of injured and deaths,” Melhem said.
Bakeries and pharmacies will be allowed to stay open but “it is strictly forbidden to hold weddings, funerals gatherings, festivals or any other gatherings,” he added. 
The government also ordered the closure of all hairdressers, beauty salons and sports clubs and said that summer camps are strictly prohibited this year.


Egypt, Arab League condemn Israel’s role in Al-Aqsa Mosque clashes

Stun grenades burst in the air amid clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli security forces at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem. (AFP)
Stun grenades burst in the air amid clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli security forces at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem. (AFP)
Updated 33 min 36 sec ago

Egypt, Arab League condemn Israel’s role in Al-Aqsa Mosque clashes

Stun grenades burst in the air amid clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli security forces at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem. (AFP)
  • More than 160 Palestinians and at least six Israeli police officers were injured in a series of confrontations at the mosque

CAIRO: Egypt’s Foreign Ministry and the Arab League have condemned Israeli forces’ involvement in violent clashes outside Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

More than 160 Palestinians and at least six Israeli police officers were injured in a series of confrontations at the mosque late on Friday.

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry said that it condemned Israeli forces’ “storming of the mosque and assault on worshippers there.”

A ministry statement called on Israeli authorities to “shoulder their responsibility in accordance with international law in providing the required protection for the Palestinian civilians and their right to perform their religious rituals.”

The ministry also highlighted the need to “halt any activities that violate the sanctity of the mosque, the holy month of Ramadan, and the Islamic and Christian Arab identity of Jerusalem city.”

Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Hafez reiterated Egypt’s rejection of any illegal activities that seek to undermine the rights of the Palestinian people, particularly the construction or expansion of settlements on Palestinian territory, as well as confiscation of lands and displacement of Palestinians. 

This “represents a violation of international law, undermines the chances of achieving the two-state solution, and represents a threat to the pillars of security and stability in the region,” said Hafez.

He denounced Israeli attempts to evict Palestinian families in the Sheikh Jarrah district in east Jerusalem, saying that this “represents a violation of international humanitarian law and a continuation of the policy of forced displacement.”

Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit also condemned the violence at the mosque, and the targeting of unarmed Palestinians with sound and gas bombs as well as rubber bullets. 

Warning of the consequences of escalation, Aboul Gheit said that the assault “provokes the feelings of Muslims around the world and reflects the intended Israeli policy of escalation.”

The violence follows recent “provocations and irresponsible actions against the Palestinian people,” he said.

Aboul Gheit called for immediate international action to halt the assaults, warning of an irreversible escalation in the occupied territories. 

An official source in the Arab League Secretariat quoted Aboul Gheit as saying that the timing of the Israeli assault reveals “a premeditated intention to provoke the Palestinians.”

It “also demonstrates recklessness with the feelings of Muslims and their right to perform their rituals in Al-Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan,” he said.

The Arab League chief held the Israeli government accountable for what he described as “dangerous, irresponsible escalation.”


Iran prisoner ‘forgotten’ by UK govt: Family

One of at least four UK nationals detained by Iran, Anoosheh Ashoori was imprisoned for “spying” and “acquiring illegal wealth.” (Amnesty International)
One of at least four UK nationals detained by Iran, Anoosheh Ashoori was imprisoned for “spying” and “acquiring illegal wealth.” (Amnesty International)
Updated 08 May 2021

Iran prisoner ‘forgotten’ by UK govt: Family

One of at least four UK nationals detained by Iran, Anoosheh Ashoori was imprisoned for “spying” and “acquiring illegal wealth.” (Amnesty International)
  • ‘Boris Johnson has never mentioned us or been in contact with us privately’
  • British-Iranian dual national Anoosheh Ashoori was arrested in Tehran in 2017

LONDON: The family of a British-Iranian dual national detained in Iran fear that he will “be forgotten” as the UK government negotiates the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

Elika Ashoori, daughter of retired engineer Anoosheh Ashoori, said UK government officials and ministers have “refused to name” her father when discussing the hostage situation.

Elika told The Times: “(UK Prime Minister) Boris Johnson has never mentioned us or been in contact with us privately. None of us have been mentioned at all.”

She warned that the government might be choosing to focus on the release of Zaghari-Ratcliffe, whose case has been given more media attention, even if it means her father is left behind.

Elika said: “This is by no means the fault of Richard Ratcliffe or Nazanin — the blame is on the government.”

Anoosheh’s family previously accepted UK Foreign Office requests to “stay silent” following his 2017 arrest in Tehran.

They were warned by officials that publicizing the case would undermine his bid for freedom.

One of at least four UK nationals detained by Iran, Anoosheh was imprisoned for “spying” and “acquiring illegal wealth.”

His family say both charges were trumped up to provide Tehran with greater bargaining power in negotiations.

The UK Foreign Office has said Anoosheh’s case was “raised regularly” with Iranian authorities at the highest levels, including by Johnson.

“We strongly urge Iran to reunite Mr. Ashoori with his family,” an official said. “Our embassy in Tehran continues to request consular access. We are in close contact with his family and continue to support them.

“We remain committed to securing the immediate and permanent release of arbitrarily detained dual British nationals in Iran.”


Egypt to produce 60m doses of Sinovac vaccine from next month

Egypt is set to begin the production of 60 million doses of the Chinese Sinovac coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine next month. (Reuters/File Photo)
Egypt is set to begin the production of 60 million doses of the Chinese Sinovac coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine next month. (Reuters/File Photo)
Updated 50 min 40 sec ago

Egypt to produce 60m doses of Sinovac vaccine from next month

Egypt is set to begin the production of 60 million doses of the Chinese Sinovac coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine next month. (Reuters/File Photo)
  • Egypt is able to procure a variety of vaccines, including the Chinese Sinovac and AstraZeneca vaccines

CAIRO: Egypt is set to begin the production of 60 million doses of the Chinese Sinovac coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine next month.

The announcement was made by Mohammed Abdel Fattah, head of the central administration for preventive affairs at Egypt’s Ministry of Health. The health official stressed that the goal was to ensure vaccination for as large a number of citizens as possible.

In televised statements, Fattah said that the elderly and those working in the medical sector would be among the prioritized categories of people to receive the vaccine, followed by those working in the tourism and banking sector.

He indicated that large doses of vaccines would become available in the coming days and confirmed that Egypt was able to procure a variety of vaccines, including the Chinese Sinovac and AstraZeneca vaccines. It has also contracted to receive the Russian Sputnik V vaccine.

Fattah said although there has been a significant increase in COVID-19 cases recently, medicines and oxygen tanks were available, and hospitals were ready to receive critical patients.

He said that a number of vaccination centers in the country had been opened that would allow a large number of citizens to be inoculated at the same time.

The vaccine center in the area of the Cairo International Fair accepts citizens from the governorates of Cairo, Giza and Al-Qalioubiya. Its daily capacity reaches 10,000 people, and it includes 96 clinics and a medical team. 

Fattah called on citizens to sign up for the vaccine, noting that the demand among Egyptians to become vaccinated has increased, especially after the outbreak of the Indian variant.


Egypt to test visitors from countries with COVID-19 variants on arrival

Egypt to test visitors from countries with COVID-19 variants on arrival
Updated 08 May 2021

Egypt to test visitors from countries with COVID-19 variants on arrival

Egypt to test visitors from countries with COVID-19 variants on arrival

CAIRO: Egypt will require all visitors arriving from “countries where variants of the virus have appeared” to take a rapid COVID-19 test upon arrival, its health ministry said in a statement on Saturday.
The statement did not specify the countries from which passengers would take the 15-minute DNA test, called ID NOW.
Egypt’s new coronavirus cases have been steadily rising in recent weeks. On Saturday it reported 1,125 new cases and 65 deaths, although experts say that reflects only a fraction of total cases.
In a statement on Saturday, Egypt’s tourism ministry clarified that restaurants and coffee shops attached to hotels were exempt from a recent decree that such outlets as well as malls and stores would close at 9 p.m. local time (GMT +2) in order to not affect tourism.


Medics: 200 Palestinians hurt in Al-Aqsa clashes with police

Medics: 200 Palestinians hurt in Al-Aqsa clashes with police
Updated 08 May 2021

Medics: 200 Palestinians hurt in Al-Aqsa clashes with police

Medics: 200 Palestinians hurt in Al-Aqsa clashes with police
  • Clashes erupted when Israeli police deployed heavily as Muslims were performing evening prayers at Al-Aqsa

JERUSALEM: A night of heavy clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound and elsewhere in Jerusalem left more than 200 Palestinians wounded, medics said Saturday, as the city braced for even more violence after weeks of unrest.
Nightly protests broke out at the start of the holy month of Ramadan over police restrictions at a popular gathering place and have reignited in recent days over threatened eviction of dozens of Palestinians from their homes in east Jerusalem, which is claimed by both sides in the decades-old conflict.
It was unclear what set off the violence at Al-Aqsa, which erupted when Israeli police in riot gear deployed in large numbers as thousands of Muslim worshippers were holding evening prayers at the sprawling hilltop esplanade.
Throughout the night large groups of protesters could be seen hurling rocks as Israeli police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades. At one point, the police entered one of the buildings in the complex, which includes the Al-Aqsa mosque and the iconic golden Dome of the Rock.
The Palestinian Red Crescent emergency service said 88 of the wounded were hospitalized. The Palestinian Health Ministry said 83 people were wounded by rubber-coated bullets, including three who were shot in the eye, two with serious head injuries and two with broken jaws.
The Israeli police said protesters hurled stones, fireworks and other objects at them, wounding six officers who required medical treatment. “We will respond with a heavy hand to all violent disturbances, riots and attacks on our forces,” it said in a statement late Friday.
The Al-Aqsa mosque compound is the third holiest site in Islam. It is also the holiest site for Jews, who refer to it as the Temple Mount because it was the location of the biblical temples. It has long been a flashpoint in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and was the epicenter of the 2000 Palestinian intifada, or uprising.
Some 70,000 worshippers had attended the final midday Friday prayers of Ramadan at Al-Aqsa, the Islamic endowment that oversees the site said. Thousands protested afterwards, waving the green flags of the Islamic militant group Hamas and chanting pro-Hamas slogans.
At the beginning of Ramadan in mid-April, Israel blocked off a popular gathering spot where Palestinians traditionally socialize at the end of their daylong fast. The move set off two weeks of clashes before Israel lifted the restrictions.
But in recent days, protests have grown over Israel's threatened eviction in Sheikh Jarrah in east Jerusalem of dozens of Palestinians embroiled in a long legal battle with Israeli settlers trying to acquire property in the neighborhood.
The United States said it was “deeply concerned” about both the violence and the threatened evictions, and was in contact with leaders on both sides to try and de-escalate tensions.
“It is critical to avoid steps that exacerbate tensions or take us farther away from peace,” the US State Department said in a statement. “This includes evictions in East Jerusalem, settlement activity, home demolitions, and acts of terrorism.”
The European Union also urged calm. It said the potential evictions were of “serious concern," adding that such actions are "illegal under international humanitarian law and only serve to fuel tensions on the ground.
Neighboring Jordan, which made peace with Israel in 1994 and is the custodian of Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem, has also condemned Israel's actions, as has the Gulf kingdom of Bahrain, which normalized relations with Israel last year in a US-brokered deal.
Israelis and Palestinians are bracing for more unrest in the coming days.
Sunday night is “Laylat al-Qadr” or the “Night of Destiny,” the most sacred in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Worshippers will gather for intense nighttime prayers at Al-Aqsa.
Sunday night is also the start of Jerusalem Day, a national holiday in which Israel celebrates its annexation of east Jerusalem and religious nationalists hold parades and other celebrations in the city. On Monday, an Israeli court is expected to issue a verdict on the evictions.
Israel captured east Jerusalem, along with the West Bank and Gaza — territories the Palestinians want for their future state — in the 1967 Mideast war. Israel annexed east Jerusalem in a move not recognized internationally and views the entire city as its capital.