Churches for Middle East Peace
gaza virus shutdown

Crossings Shut, Empty Mosques: Gaza Prepares for the Spread of Coronavirus
A look at the continuing impact of the spreading virus, developments in the Israeli election, and more news in this week’s bulletin.

Image: A man looks through a fence as he waits for Palestinians returning from abroad, Rafa border crossing, Gaza Strip, March 8, 2020. (Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters)

gaza virus shutdown

Crossings shut, empty mosques: Gaza prepares for the spread of Coronavirus

“No cases of the novel coronavirus have been diagnosed yet in the Gaza Strip, but concern is growing over the ramifications of a possible outbreak. Due to the overcrowding in the Strip, the poor state of the healthcare system and the ongoing humanitarian crisis, the Hamas government as well as the public view the prospect of such an outbreak with horror. Hamas and the civil authorities in Gaza have already taken precautions, including closing the Erez crossing to Israel to entry and exit. Palestinians who have entered the Strip since the outbreak of the virus in Israel have been placed in isolation in temporary housing in the area of the crossings. Over the past few days the Gaza Health Ministry has begun putting up a field hospital at the Rafah crossing. According to b, 63 Gazans are now in quarantine in these buildings, and according to the Gaza Health Ministry 2,667 people are in home isolation.” 

Image: A man looks through a fence as he waits for Palestinians returning from abroad, Rafa border crossing, Gaza Strip, March 8, 2020. (Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters)

palestinians virus closure

Coordinating with Abbas, Israel puts virus closure on PA-ruled West Bank area  
Times of Israel

“Israel closed off Palestinian-administered areas of the West Bank on Wednesday to limit the spread of the coronavirus, an official said. ‘From today, a closure has taken place in the West Bank,’ said Yotam Shefer, who heads the international department of COGAT, the Israeli military body responsible for civilian affairs in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. He told journalists the decision had been made in conjunction with the Palestinian Authority government, based in Ramallah. The border crossing with the Gaza Strip has been closed in recent days and will remain so, Shefer added.”

Image: Palestinian laborers enter Israel to work through a checkpoint between the West Bank city of Hebron and Beersheva while carrying blankets and mattresses on March 18, 2020, as for the first time they have to stay for one to two months inside Israel amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Hazem Bader / AFP)

virus surveillance

Removing safeguards and oversight, cabinet okays mass surveillance to halt virus
Times of Israel

“Israel’s caretaker government amended and unanimously approved early on Tuesday a measure allowing security services to deploy advanced digital monitoring tools in an effort track carriers of the coronavirus, removing many of the safeguards and oversights that officials had said would be put into place to address widespread privacy concerns about the initiative. The approval of the emergency measure bypassed the Knesset — a move Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had said would not be done — after a subcommittee on clandestine services on Monday (March 16) stopped short of approving the highly controversial surveillance program, pending additional debate.” 

Image: Two women take a selfie as they wear face masks in Tel Aviv, Israel, Sunday, March 15, 2020. (AP/Oded Balilty)

What's Happening at CMEP

Join Us in June for a 1-day Online Summit!
We have restructured our annual advocacy summit to be digital. Join us June 22nd for a digital summit. We are excited to have incredible speakers joining us and hope you will, too! More info coming soon.

ash wednesday

Lent Devotions:

Each Sunday and Holy Day this Lent our writers are considering what it means to be truly Equal in God’s Eyes.

peace plan webinar

Peace Plan Webinar:

More than a month has passed since President Trump unveiled the “Peace to Prosperity” proposal. Where do things stand now? Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon and other experts discuss.



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House Democrats press Trump administration on US equipment used by Israel to demolish homes

“More than 60 Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives want the Trump administration to press Israel not to use American military equipment to demolish Palestinian homes. In a letter sent Monday to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — spearheaded by Reps. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., Anna Eshoo, D-Calif. and Steve Cohen, D-Tenn. — the House members note recent demolitions in eastern Jerusalem and U.N. reports last year of a 45 percent increase in Israeli home demolitions. They also asked for an examination of Israeli compliance with the U.S. Arms Export Control Act, which restricts recipients of U.S. military equipment to using it for ‘legitimate self-defense.’” 

 Image: Rep Ro Khanna (D-CA) speaks at a rally with MoveOn members and allies gather with leading senators to demand that the Senate vote to reject Mike Pompeo's nomination for Secretary of State at US Capitol in Washington, DC on April 11, 2018. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for

settlements down 2019

New West Bank settlement construction dropped 32% in 2019

“The number of West Bank settler housing starts dropped by a third (32%) and the number of completed homes decreased even more (39%) in 2019, despite a surge in the advancement of building plans and the publication of tenders for such construction. The numbers are based on data published by the Central Bureau of Statistics this week, which show that there was a greater drop in West Bank settler construction in 2019 compared to regions within sovereign Israel. Nationwide, the construction numbers were also down but only slightly, with a 2.2% decrease in the amount of housing starts and a 0.1% drop in the number of finished homes, according to the CBS. In actual numbers there were 1,528 settler housing starts in 2019 and 1,431 finishes."

Image: A view of the Israeli settlement of Ma'ale Adumim February 25, 2020. (Ammar Awad/Reuters)

Palestinians to ICC

Palestinians to ICC: We have sole sovereignty over 'State of Palestine'

“The Palestinians on Monday (March 16) submitted their observations to the International Criminal Court regarding the ICC prosecutor’s request for a determination on the scope of its jurisdiction in the ‘State of Palestine.’ On January 28, the ICC Pretrial Chamber ordered setting the procedure and schedule for submission of observations on the prosecutor’s request, resubmitted on January 22, under article 19(3) of the Rome Statute related to the scope of the court’s territorial jurisdiction in the ‘Situation in the State of Palestine.’”

Image: The entrance of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is seen in The Hague. (Reuters)


CMEP's Bulletin is a weekly round-up of news from the Middle East and represents an array of perspectives on the issues we cover. CMEP does not necessarily agree with all the views expressed in the articles, and they do not speak on CMEP's behalf.

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