Relatives of Labor party chief among Moroccan Jews to die of COVID-19
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Relatives of Labor party chief among Moroccan Jews to die of COVID-19

MK Amir Peretz says Simone Peretz died in the hospital ‘without knowing about the death of her son’ Ari, a philanthropist and businessman who passed away days earlier

Chairman of the Labor party Amir Peretz is seen during a press conference in Tel Aviv, March 12, 2020. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Chairman of the Labor party Amir Peretz is seen during a press conference in Tel Aviv, March 12, 2020. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Labor Party leader Amir Peretz on Tuesday said two of his relatives in Morocco had died from coronavirus.

Residents of Casablanca told Hebrew media on Monday that three members of the city’s Jewish community had died from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. They were named as businessman and philanthropist Ari Peretz, 52; his mother Simone Peretz, 75; and businessman Michel Tourgeman, 62.

Peretz said he was informed last week that Ari Peretz had died, after being hospitalized in critical condition.

“In the Jewish community they told of his contribution and the aid he gave to disadvantaged populations, Jews and Arabs,” the Labor MK was quoted saying by Channel 12 news. “Even the heads of the state and representatives of the royal court called me to express their sorrow.”

He said he’d learned on Monday that Simone Peretz had also died.

“[She] died without knowing about the death of her son, who she’ll meet in heaven,” Peretz said.

He said that Yamin Peretz, Simone’s husband and Ari’s father, had also been infected and remained hospitalized.

Moroccan Jews mark Hanukkah in Casablanca, December 22, 2019. (Courtesy/Chabad.org)

Morocco has imposed a public health state of emergency in a bid to forestall the spread of the virus, which has so far infected 574 people in the country, of whom 33 have died, according to John Hopkins University’s global coronavirus tracker.

However, relatively few tests have been conducted in the nation of some 35 million people.

The Moroccan military instructs people to return home in Casablanca due to the coronavirus outbreak, March 21, 2020.three deaths. (Stringer/AFP)

Of the 2,000-strong Jewish community, 16 have been confirmed to be infected and are hospitalized, according to the Channel 12 report.

Ari Peretz and Tourgeman reportedly attended a large wedding some three weeks ago in the city of Agadir. It is estimated that they were infected there by some of the hundreds of French nationals who flew to the country to attend the event.

“Their death is a great loss for the Jewish community in Morocco,” said a community member. “They are people who contributed significantly to the community.

AFP contributed to this report.

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