An Epidemic in a Settler Colony: Coronavirus in Palestine/Israel

Israeli forces at Al Walaja checkpoint, West Bank, March 2020.

Ahmad Al-Bazz writes in Mondoweiss on March 30, 2020:

As a West Bank resident, ruled by a weak authority-less Palestinian Authority and indirect Israeli military control at the same time, I am very concerned how we will survive the widespread novel coronavirus if the number of cases keeps rising.

We are all facing a tough fate. We have no choice but to rely on the PA’s weak health system. I have never supported the idea of an autonomously-ruled region within a settler colony (because it does nothing to challenge the colony itself), however the PA is now the only escape for any person infected with the coronavirus, including myself.

How dark such a destiny could be. There is no doubt that the colonized population should be the responsibility of the colonizer. But that has never been the case in Palestine/Israel. In fact, the Palestinian Authority has always been functioned as an escape for the colonizer to avoid many of the exhausting responsibilities for the colonized population, including healthcare.

The entire experience of the coronavirus in the West Bank serves as a perfect example of how Israel rules over Palestinians. While the coronavirus doesn’t differentiate between Israelis and Palestinians, Israel sure does. This is not an attempt to politicize the virus, but to state the obvious — everything in this country is politicized and affected by the colonial structure. The epidemic is just another perspective to understand it from.

Exclusion has always been an essential rule of the Zionist ideology that aimed to create a national Jewish homeland in a country where other people were living. The obsession of being a demographic majority has resulted in the two geopolitical entities we know today as the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Their “borders”, known as the Green Line, were drawn right around the expelled and the unwanted population from the newly-created Jewish state. In 1967, the “occupation” of these two parts produced a double-layered exclusion from the colonial rulers of the Israeli state.

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