Palestinian Authority government spokesman Ibrahim Milhem accused Israel on Tuesday of “dumping” an ill Palestinian worker — who he said had been suspected of carrying coronavirus — at a checkpoint in the central West Bank on Monday.
“They dumped him in the middle of the road while he was experiencing pain,” Milhem told Palestine TV, the official PA channel. “They welcome us as healthy people and then throw us in the middle of the road as sick people. This is in contravention of human rights.”
Malak Ghannam, 29, who was working at a construction site in Tel Aviv without a permit, was taken by ambulance to Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv on Monday after he fell ill with a fever and diarrhea, according to Arafat Amro, a field coordinator for the Israeli workers rights group Kav LeOved.
Ghannam was examined outside the hospital and subsequently picked up by the Israel Police, which dropped him off at a checkpoint in the central West Bank without coordinating his arrival with Palestinian authorities, Amro said.
Milhem later told a press conference that the worker tested negative for COVID-19 and was at a hospital in Nablus.
Palestinian authorities, as of Tuesday, have said 60 people in the West Bank have tested positive for the virus, including 16 who have recovered.
Since last Thursday, Israel, in coordination with the PA, has put the West Bank under closure, barring the overwhelming majority of Palestinians from crossing into Israel.
Walid Khattab, the deputy mayor of Beit Sira, a village adjacent to the checkpoint where the police left Ghannam, said members of a local emergency committee came across the worker lying on the side of the road.
“When the committee found him, he had already been waiting for a long time and was on the ground and visibly sick,” he said. “I immediately called the Red Crescent, which came about an hour later in an ambulance to transport him to a hospital.”
بكل أسف، الناطق بإسم الحكومة قال إستلمنا عامل عبر حاجز بيت سيرا من قبل الإحتلال يشتبه انه مصاب بالكورونا…لكن للأسف الفيديو يقول عكس ذلك تماماالإحتلال راميه رمي عالطريق وكإنه مش إنسان….شو اللي بيمنع الناطق بإسم الحكومة انه يقول ان الإحتلال ابن الكلب رماه بهالطريقة البشعة…اكيد كانت الصورة لم تصل للناطق بهذه البشاعة..الاحتلال ابن الكلب
פורסם על ידי سامي الساعي ב- יום שני, 23 במרץ 2020
Footage posted on social media showed Ghannam lying on the side of the road before medics wearing protective gear arrive and take him away.
Khattab contended that Israel should have made sure Palestinian medical authorities were present to receive Ghannam before allowing him to cross the checkpoint.
“It is not responsible to leave a sick person to his own devices like that,” he said. “We need to care for the sick people.”
The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, the Defense Ministry body responsible for liaising with the Palestinians, referred questions to the police.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld emphasized Ghannam was in Israel without a permit but did not clarify whether Israel had made efforts to coordinate his return to the West Bank with the PA.
“Police received information from Ichilov [Hospital] about an illegal Palestinian worker who arrived at the hospital and requested treatment,” he said.
“He was checked in the hospital and released and was confirmed to not have the coronavirus in anyway whatsoever,” he added, without stating whether he was diagnosed with any other illness. “Police escorted the man to the Maccabim security crossing as he was an illegal worker.”
Amro said that Ghannam would likely stay at the hospital in Nablus for the next couple of days.