TEL AVIV – Senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi on Wednesday accused Israel of exploiting the coronavirus pandemic to “annex Palestinian occupied territories” and protect “terror against the helpless Palestinians.”
“Israel is taking advantage of the coronavirus outbreak to speed up the process of annexing territories in the West Bank and provide protection for the armed extremist settlers to continue their terror against the helpless Palestinian people,” Ashrawi, who is an executive committee member of the PLO, said in a statement according to the Arutz 7 new site.
Her remarks came in response to Defense Minister Naftali Bennett’s announcement that he plans to build a “road to sovereignty” highway for Palestinians to bypass the controversial E1 area. The area, which stretches some 4 miles between Jerusalem and the suburb of Maaleh Adumim, has been the source of contention since Palestinians claim Jewish construction there will null its viability to be included in a future Palestinian state.
“The actions of the settlers against the Palestinians has escalated following the coronavirus outbreak in Bethlehem, which required large-scale preventive measures,” Ashrawi claimed.
She went on to falsely attribute a list of crimes to Jewish settlers, including “breaking into” Al-Tira neighborhood of Ramallah, attempting to kidnap two minors in the village of Turmus Ayia, and uprooting 1,200 trees in the Bethlehem area.
Ashrawi is known for spreading alleging Israeli terror attacks. In January, U.S. Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib retweeted a post shared by Ashrawi about a 7-year-old Palestinian boy whose drowning was falsely attributed to a “herd of violent settlers.”
The Palestinian Authority last week declared a state of emergency over the coronavirus outbreak, which has mostly been concentrated in Bethlehem. The West Bank city has been on lock down since last week, with all entrances to and from the area shut down in an effort to contain the outbreak.
29 people in the West Bank had now been diagnosed with the virus, 28 of them from Bethlehem, PA government spokesman Ibrahim Milhem said on Tuesday.