In a highly ironic move, chief Palestinian negotiator and critic of Israel, Saeb Erekat, asked to be treated for COVID-19 at a Jerusalem hospital after his condition deteriorated from the virus. But back in March, he accused Israel of intentionally spreading the disease to Palestinians.
Erekat said that settlers were “spitting on Palestinian cars and property in order to transfer the Corona disease to them” among other things because of their “wild desire to get rid of the Palestinian people in any way.”
“Palestine is between two epidemics today: At a time when our entire people is dealing with the Coronavirus and fighting to get rid of this epidemic in order to save lives… it is dealing with the colonialist occupation epidemic with the same determination,” Erekat wrote back in March in Al-Hayat Al-Jadida.
His article was translated from Arabic by Palestinian Media Watch.
Erekat is in serious condition and is believed to be on life support at Hadassah Ein Karem in Jerusalem. Erekat underwent a lung transplant in Virginia earlier this year, so he is considered a high-risk patient. Israel agreed to treat him last weekend when his condition suddenly started to worsen last Saturday.
While some Israelis believe it is an unquestioned obligation of Jews to respect and save any life, many politicians and bereaved families have protested Israel’s treatment of Erekat.
“If the Palestinians had invested more in their healthcare system instead of terrorism,” Erekat could have been treated there, Knesset Member Ariel Kallner tweeted. “The fact that we give him treatment … shows weakness.”
Dozens of Israelis from across the political spectrum protested outside the hospital chanting, “let him die” and held signs calling on the hospital to cease treatment.
“The same terrorist takes up a bed and costs money at the expense of Israeli citizens while he and his boss encourage their murder,” Boaz Kukia, a leader of the Bereaved Families’ Voting Forum, said.
“Funding medical treatment for those who justify murdering Jews and acting against the State of Israel and the Jewish people is a spit in the face of the citizens of Israel,” Devorah Gonen, whose son Danny was killed in an attack, said. “This is how Erekat, the sweetheart of the boycott and BDS organizations accumulated his large fortune. There’s no justification for accepting him with open arms.”
But that is not the sentiment of most Israelis, who prefer save lives than take them—even if he is an enemy. Jerusalem Post News Editor Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman wrote a compelling op-ed arguing just the opposite.
“Should Israel be a state that denies medical treatment? How can it do so if the Jewish state is meant to be a light unto the nations?” she wrote. “The Jewish people are supposed to place pikuach nefesh – saving a life – over all else.”
She said that Erekat’s care should be “a top priority for Israel to help ensure that the nation does not lose its moral compass – and sets a basic standard of ethical action during the coronavirus pandemic.”