Rome Newsroom, Jul 15, 2020 / 12:25 pm
Facing the global coronavirus pandemic, Palestine has “the special and unique challenges of being under colonialism and a touristic country,” a Palestinian Catholic from the Bethlehem area told CNA.
Rula Shomali, communications officer at the Latin Catholic Patriarchate of Jerusalem, told CNA that Palestinians, and especially Palestinians Christians, face unusual challenges while fighting the coronavirus pandemic.
“With a state of low income and poor resources, and a country that has fought colonialism for years, it is difficult to fight two colonizations at once; the Israeli occupation and COVID-19,” she said.
In recent weeks, coronavirus infections skyrocketed in the West Bank. As of July 9, there were 4,673 infected people and 22 deaths from COVID 19 in the West Bank. At the end of May, there had been only 400 infections and two fatalities. The renewed spread of the infection is jeopardizing the Palestinian Authority's efforts to counter the epidemic.
Shomali said that “we are already living in a large open prison, having the checkpoints and the wall surrounding our area. Having to deal with its consequences everyday leaves us in the same situation that the lockdown and quarantine measures have imposed.”
She added that “as a Palestinian working in Jerusalem, I have to cross the checkpoint every day to pass from Bethlehem to Jerusalem. To be able to do so, I should have a specific and valid permit.”
“During the outbreak” – Shomali recounted - “all the permits stopped, and the checkpoint was closed. My colleagues and I weren't able to reach our offices, and it took some time for the Patriarchate to arrange our coming to work.”
Working from home was also hard, because “our internet connection is very slow, and our laptops do not have access to everything we need. I had a three months old baby girl! (now she is six months!) which makes working from home harder than I thought. My other colleges have sisters and brothers who had exams and online classes with only one laptop at home, which made the progress of work slower.”