It is an bizarre morning: I’m on my manner from Jerusalem, the place I stay, to the centre of Ramallah within the West Financial institution. Outlets are nonetheless closed at this early hour. 5 Israeli autos are rolling in the wrong way, heading to their navy base in Qalandia after all-night raids aiming to arrest somebody in Ramallah. A number of passersby carrying masks, overlaying their chins somewhat than their mouths and noses, are nonetheless trying sleepy; automobiles are slowly rising.
On my manner from Jerusalem to Ramallah, I handed by Qalandia checkpoint. In regular circumstances, with out occupation or checkpoints, the journey ought to take lower than quarter-hour. But it takes me not less than an hour and quarter-hour each day. After I attain Ramallah, I’ll go on to Nablus, additional north, to conduct a workshop with a bunch of ladies discussing their every day wants throughout the Covid-19 disaster. The pandemic has been raging for a yr; plainly it could by no means finish on the Palestinian aspect.
Tons of of Palestinian staff are travelling in the wrong way, from Ramallah to Jerusalem, by the identical checkpoint. They go each day to work in Israeli factories holding non permanent permits. Regardless of the frequent restrictions imposed on motion and life in Israel throughout the pandemic, these permits are all the time granted, because the factories want low-cost Palestinian labour.
Though the lockdown remains to be in place in Palestinian Territories and gatherings are formally banned, plainly these restrictions go comparatively unenforced.
Residing in Jerusalem, married to a Jerusalemite, I’ve already had my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine and am awaiting the second. This offers me with benefits and a few sense of safety, in contrast to the ladies I meet in Nablus, who’re nonetheless at nice danger of catching the virus.
Statistics present that from the beginning of the pandemic to September, the second-highest supply of an infection instances right here have been amongst Palestinian staff in Israeli settlements, or individuals who had been involved with them. They saved working throughout the pandemic no matter lockdowns. They’re unable to cease working voluntarily as a result of the Palestinian financial system, which is already paralysed, has additional deteriorated for the reason that outbreak. Palestinians don’t have any management over their imports and exports, monetary and human assets, or borders. We’re on the mercy of what occurs round us.
Israel has paved the way in which for Ramallah to be Palestine’s potential capital. It has allowed the constructing of state establishments whereas exhibiting on a number of events that it will probably destroy them at any time when it needs, or steal their recordsdata or arrest their workers. It has additionally allowed the formation of a Palestinian Authority with ministries that present every day companies for his or her residents. Nevertheless, the lowest-ranking Israeli soldier on a checkpoint can cease the convoy of the authority’s prime minister and forestall him from travelling overseas.
Israel permits an toddler from Gaza to journey for a surgical procedure at Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem, the place medical assets can be found – on the identical time, it prevents their members of the family from accompanying them on this journey. It additionally has the ability to forestall Palestinians from coming into Palestinian Territories, though they have been born there. Israel absolutely controls the salaries of Palestinian workers by withholding tax funds to the authority. Israel controls the kind of meals Palestinians placed on their tables, the laptops they use, their electrical energy, water, underwear, razor blades – even the lasers they use at magnificence salons.
Nevertheless, regardless of the profitable rollout of the vaccine to date in Israel, the nation isn’t offering the vaccine for those in Palestinian Territories. Of their minds, it’s the authority’s accountability to take action for its residents. And it waits for different international locations to supply the vaccine for Palestinians, completely happy to keep away from its obligations as an occupying energy. It has all the time managed to flee these obligations in different sectors, be it healthcare or schooling and safety. In the identical breath, it traps Palestinians, together with these within the authority itself, inside large partitions, screens them and carries out raids to arrest anybody it desires, any time it needs.
After a yr of this pandemic, we Palestinians have began to expire of choices. No relevant preventive measures appear to be in place to constrain the virus, whereas an financial disaster rages and our companies are being destroyed. Our well being sector continues to undergo from a scarcity of assets.
Because the day wears on I depart my assembly with the ladies within the Previous Metropolis in Nablus with an awesome feeling of despair that trumps even short-term fears in regards to the virus. Many households right here have misplaced their sources of revenue and there’s little signal of an answer – there’s solely hope and creativeness left.
Translated by Majd Abu Shawish
Maya Abu Al-Hayat is editor of The Book of Ramallah (revealed by Comma Press, 4 March), and director of the Palestine Writing Workshop