Palestinian official Saeb Erekat taken to Israeli hospital after COVID-19 condition worsens

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat underwent a lung transplant in the United States in 2017. (Reuters/File)
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Updated 18 October 2020

Palestinian official Saeb Erekat taken to Israeli hospital after COVID-19 condition worsens

  • Erekat, 65, was taken on a stretcher from his home in Jericho into an Israeli ambulance

AMMAN: Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat was rushed by ambulance to a hospital in West Jerusalem on Sunday after his COVID-19 infection suddenly worsened. 

Erekat, 65, secretary of the PLO’s executive committee, is being treated in the coronavirus intensive care unit at Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital, where his condition was described as serious but stable.
“He arrived in serious condition and needed support and high doses of oxygen,” the hospital said.
Earlier, Erekat had been carried to the Israeli ambulance on a stretcher from his home in the Khadiwey neighborhood of Jericho in the occupied West Bank. He was accompanied to the hospital by his son Ali and daughters Dalal and Salam, who is a doctor.

“Thank God, my father’s health is stable. He needs special medical care for lung transplanted patients, thank you for your prayers, may God protect us all,” Dalal said later on Twitter.

Erekat had a lung transplant in a US hospital in 2017. Family and friends were worried about his low-level immunity because of the surgery. He tested positive for the coronavirus 10 days ago.

Arsen Ostrovsky, a lawyer and political analyst in Israel, accused Erekat of hypocrisy for being treated in an Israeli hospital while the Palestinian Authority prevented ordinary Palestinians from doing so.

Palestinian officials dismissed the criticism as offensive and unjustified. “International law including the Hague and Geneva conventions requires an occupying power to provide medical support to the population under its control,” one said.

Erekat has been one of the most high-profile faces of the Palestinian leadership for decades, especially to international audiences. He is one of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s most senior advisers, and also held top positions under Yasser Arafat.


Security forces keep radical protesters away from French Embassy in Beirut

Updated 43 min 8 sec ago

Security forces keep radical protesters away from French Embassy in Beirut

  • Calls for a demonstration by radical Islamic groups spread on social media platforms
  • Security forces had anticipated Friday’s protest and tightened security in the heart of Beirut

BEIRUT: Lebanese security forces prevented the arrival of hundreds of protesters at the French ambassador’s residence and the French Embassy in Lebanon on Friday.

They feared the recurrence of riots similar to the ones that erupted in front of the Danish Embassy in Ashrafieh, Beirut, in 2006, and led to 28 people being injured, damage to storefronts, and the burning of the consulate building and terrorizing of people.

A few hundred worshippers left mosques after Friday prayers and marched to defend the Prophet Muhammad.

Calls for a demonstration by radical Islamic groups spread on social media platforms.

Khaldoun Qawwas, Dar Al-Fatwa’s media spokesperson, told Arab News: “These groups have nothing to do with Dar Al-Fatwa, which has already announced its position regarding what happened in France in two separate statements.”

Sheikh Abdul Latif Deryan, the grand mufti of Lebanon, in a statement issued a week earlier, said that “freedom of opinion and expression does not entail insulting the beliefs and symbols of others, and this requires a reconsideration of the concept of absolute freedom.”

He stressed the “renunciation of violence and confrontation of radicalism and terrorism that has no religion or race.”

Security forces had anticipated Friday’s protest and tightened security in the heart of Beirut, since the embassy and the French ambassador’s residence are located where roads leading to the city’s western and eastern neighborhoods intersect. This led to a huge traffic jam in the capital.

The protest’s starting point was the Gamal Abdel Nasser Mosque in Al-Mazraa, situated only a few kilometers from the Residence des Pins (Pine Residence).

Three major security checkpoints — one set up by the riot police — separated the Residence des Pins and protesters, some of whom were transported by buses from the north of Lebanon to Beirut.

Protesters held Islamic signs and chanted slogans denouncing France, its President Emmanuel Macron and its former colonization of the country. Some protesters tried to remove barbed wire and threw stones, water bottles and batons at the security forces. Another group burned the French flag. Security forces responded by throwing tear gas canisters, leading to the retreat of the protesters.

In a statement, Lebanon’s Supreme Council of the Roman Catholic condemned “the terrorist attack in the French city of Nice.”

The council considered that “this terrorist crime has nothing to do with Islam and Muslims. It is an individual act carried out by terrorists haunted by radicalism, obscurantism and the rejection of the French people’s historical civilizational values. Through their acts, they abuse the spirit of tolerance, coexistence, acceptance of the other and the freedom of thought and belief which all religions call for.”

The council called for “staying away from defaming religions and beliefs and inciting hate and resentment among people, raising the voice of moderation, wisdom and reason, working together in the spirit of the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together announced by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb from the UAE last year.”

During the Friday sermon, Grand Jaafari Mufti Sheikh Ahmad Kabalan condemned “any criminal act against any people, including the French people.” He added: “We categorically reject what happened in Nice yesterday, strongly condemn it and consider it a blatant and insolent attack on Muslims before others.”

He simultaneously condemned “the official French position that affronted the Prophet, took lightly and made light of the feelings of millions of Muslims.”