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.


Hundreds of Syrians exit Lebanese town over tensions: UN

Updated 27 November 2020

Hundreds of Syrians exit Lebanese town over tensions: UN

  • UNHCR spokesperson: ‘Collective punishment... for a whole community for an incident involving one individual is unacceptable’
  • Those who fled, said they were chased out of Bsharre, a Christian-majority town, after a Syrian was accused of shooting dead a Lebanese resident

TRIPOLI, Lebanon: At least 270 Syrian families have left a north Lebanon town, as hostility toward them mounted over a murder allegedly committed by a Syrian national, the UN refugee agency said Friday.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees condemned “collective reprisals against Syrians in the town,” of Bsharre, saying many of the families fled in fear without taking their belongings.
“Collective punishment... for a whole community for an incident involving one individual is unacceptable,” a UNHCR spokesperson said in a statement.
Many of those who fled the Christian-majority town said they were chased out by Bsharre residents after a Syrian on Monday was accused of shooting dead a Lebanese resident, sparking widespread tension and hostility.
Lebanon’s official National News Agency reported forced evictions of Syrians in the wake of the murder, but Bsharre’s mayor denied that the Syrians had left out of fear.
An AFP correspondent in Tripoli saw dozens of Syrian families gathering outside a UNHCR building in the northern city.
A group of young men in Bsharre “assaulted us, threatened us and started a fire” in the house, Umm Khaled, a 31-year-old Syrian mother of five told AFP.
“We picked up our children and ran away to Tripoli,” located more than 40 kilometers (25 miles) east, she said.
Yassin Hassan, a 30-year-old Syrian who had lived in Bsharre for years, said he was beaten by a group of men.
“We ran away... without taking anything from our homes,” he told AFP.
Tripoli is among the most welcoming destinations in Lebanon for refugees.
Lebanon, which is grappling with an economic crisis, says it hosts some 1.5 million Syrians, including around one million registered as refugees with the United Nations.
UNHCR said it received “a large number of refugees from Bsharre” in its Tripoli reception center.
They were encouraged to find alternative housing but those with nowhere to stay were moved to shelters, a spokesperson told AFP.
The reasons behind the murder that fueled anti-Syrian sentiments in Bsharre remains shrouded in mystery.
The Syrian suspect in question has handed himself over to authorities, the army said.
A judicial source said investigations were still underway.
The mayor of Bsharre says the town is home to nearly a thousand Syrians.
Authorities have called on refugees to return to Syria even though rights groups warn that the war-torn country is not yet safe.