JVP-HAC: Covid 19 Timeline September 23 – October 2, 2021

J. W. Associate Blog, Gaza, Humanitarian affairs, Israel, Palestine

by Alice Rothchild, MD

We’re pleased to repost this weekly report by JWE board member Alice Rothchild, MD, which was earlier posted by the Jewish Voice for Peace Health Advisory Council (JVP-HAC)

This resource will be updated regularly to provide a full picture of the unfolding pandemic and the medical, political and economic ramifications in real time.

Please note that Coronavirus cases are an underestimate given the lack of testing, resources, and asymptomatic carriers and up-to-date numbers from the oPt are increasingly difficult to find.  We recognize that in resource poor areas just as Gaza and the West Bank, these numbers are a major underrepresentation and fail to reflect the impact of the pandemic and the recent assault on these populations.

Numbers on East Jerusalem are erratic and may be also within the West Bank or Israel data.

If you would like to receive this weekly timeline, a monthly Media Watch, and the occasional article/action alert, please email us at health@jewishvoiceforpeace.org

Cumulative Coronavirus cases in Israel and the Occupied territories
Cumulative Coronavirus cases in Israel and the Occupied territoriesCumulative Coronavirus cases in Gaza (major undercount)
Cumulative Coronavirus cases in Gaza (major undercount)

As of October 2, 2021
Israel 1,285,570
West Bank  234,863
(10/1 Reuters Covid 19 tracker) (? East Jerusalem)
Gaza 170,745
(per MOH)
Total oPt 435,412
(per Reuters Covid 19 tracker) 436,136 (per WAFA) 434,072 (per WHO as of 10/1)

As of September 25, 2021
Israel 1,256,600
West Bank Bank 231,719
(9/24) (plus 29,858 9/23 in East Jerusalem per WHO)
Gaza 162,478
9/24 per MOH) (160,733 per WHO)
Total oPt 426,033
(per Reuters Covid 19 tracker) 422,310 per WHO 9/23)

As of September 18, 2021 the numbers of Coronavirus cases (for oPt this is a mix of WHO and Ministry of Health- East Jerusalem numbers continue to be questionable)
Israel 1,211,443
West Bank 250,969
(9/9) (includes 29,413 in East Jerusalem – this number is not accurate)
Gaza 153,823 
(9/17 per MOH)
Total oPt 412,442
(per Reuters Covid-19 tracker) 406,992 (9/17 per OCHA)

numbers for oPt are from World Health Organization unless specified
numbers for Israel are from Coronavirus Tracker: Israel and Worldwide

From friend and colleague Jen Marlowe:
It was February, 2015. Azza Qassem led us up the staircase of her destroyed family home in Beit Hanoun, Gaza, picking her way through rubble and debris. The home had been shelled by Israeli tanks more than six months earlier, but she hadn’t been able to bear seeing it, until we asked her to bring us, while filming for Just Vision’s film, Naila and the Uprising.  Standing atop the rubble, Azza spoke with a combination of steely strength and tenderness. “If they don’t destroy me from inside, they haven’t done anything, and I don’t think anyone can destroy me from inside…I don’t think anyone can destroy the humanity of the people in Gaza.” 
It was with deep shock and profound grief that we learned the news yesterday [September 27] morning that Azza died from COVID-19.
Azza was a staunch feminist but she rejected the NGO-brand of feminism typically offered in Gaza–which Azza saw as taking Western notions of gender equality and pasting those directly onto a Palestinian context.  Azza saw her struggle for national liberation and women’s liberation as intertwined, and her insistence on equality for women was deeply rooted in Palestinian context, culture and history, centering the needs of families and children.

September 26 Israel
Seriously ill COVID patients in Israel are unvaccinated and middle-aged. Young unvaccinated patients are becoming so ill that they couldn’t have imagined it, the department head at Beilinson Hospital says; at the Rambam Healthcare Campus in Haifa, one in five COVID-19 patients is dying.
More than a million Israelis who qualify to be vaccinated have not yet gotten the coronavirus vaccine. That includes about 110,000 people 60 and over, and about 90,000 between the ages of 50 and 59. People’s reluctance to get vaccinated comes despite the fact that the clear majority of seriously ill COVID-19 hospital patients have not gotten the vaccine. That’s particularly true now after the booster shot has provided even greater protection to Israelis at risk.

As many as 46 coronavirus patients were on heart-and-lung ECMO machines, the highest number on the apparatus in Israel during the pandemic – and a figure that one doctor says is putting the country near the breaking point. The number of these patients, who are in critical condition, eased to 45 in the morning when one patient’s condition improved.

Representatives of Israel’s forum of Arab mayors say the director-general of the Education Ministry has postponed numerous meetings and describe his behavior as disrespectful, amid an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in Arab communities, particularly among younger age groups and schoolchildren.

Unvaccinated adults now account for the majority of severe COVID-19 cases and fatalities in Israel, with over six of every 10 new severe cases recorded on the 21st linked to this group. Around 15% of eligible Israelis over the age of 12 (some 1,105,000 people) are still unvaccinated. Of this group, 10% (755,000 people) are over the age of 20 and constitute nearly all of the country’s serious cases and deaths.

September 27 Israel
More than 60% of COVID-related deaths in Israel over the past week have been of unvaccinated patients, as official Health Ministry data shows that the 17% of eligible Israelis who have not received the vaccine have accounted for 85 coronavirus deaths in the past week.
Israel recorded 3,208 new COVID-19 cases on September 26, which marks a slight increase over the 25th’s  2,630 cases. However, the number of daily coronavirus tests declined in recent days. Haaretz

September 28 Occupied territories
The loss in the tourism sector in Palestine has exceeded one billion U.S. dollars, since the outbreak of COVID-19 in its territories, an official report published yesterday said, on the occasion of World Tourism Day.
The report, jointly published by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics and the ministry of tourism and antiquities, added that, the performance of the tourism sector in Palestine, keeps deteriorating due to the COVID-19, especially in the West Bank city of Bethlehem.

September 28 Israel
Between half a million to one million Israelis will be vaccinated in the coming days, a senior official said as Israel’s Green Pass system was set to renew on October 1 under new regulations. “Mass inoculation will lead to the collapse of the R number,” the official said, referring to the infection coefficient – the number of people each COVID carrier infects on average. That, he said, “will take us out” of the current wave of infection.

September 29 Israel
The fourth coronavirus wave has hit Israel’s Palestinian community particularly hard. Vaccination rates among Palestinian citizens of Israel are significantly lower compared to Jewish Israelis, explaining at least a part of their worse COVID situation. According to Israeli Health Ministry figures, the 10 cities and towns across the country where the pandemic is spreading at the highest rate are all Palestinian. 
The Arab Emergency Committee reported that only about 35% of Arabs eligible for vaccination got their third dose, compared with 56% among eligible ultra-Orthodox Jews and 73% among non-Haredi Jewish Israelis. Seventy-one percent of eligible Arabs got their first shot, but only 62% got the second.

In a speech to the UN General Assembly, Israeli Prime Minister Bennett implied that politicians, not physicians, deserved credit for defeating the fourth wave of COVID. His barbs were aimed at the top physicians on the front lines of the country’s battle against COVID-19, who had been pressuring him to impose unpopular restrictions that would take a financial and psychological toll on a population weary after a year and a half of the pandemic. Bennett claimed proudly on the UN stage that Israel was currently “on course to escap[ing] the fourth wave without a lockdown, without further harm to our economy.” 
At a press briefing after the speech, Bennett insisted that “with all due respect to medical experts, some of them don’t see the full picture. They won’t make the decisions on a national level, we will.”  Bennett and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz met Israel’s top health officials the following day in an attempt to alleviate tensions after the PM’s public criticisms of Israel’s COVID-19 experts.

September 30 Occupied territories
Data from Ministry of Health indicate that among 4,286 deaths to COVID-19 in Palestine, about 78% of deaths are among the elderly (60 years and above). The number of infected cases of COVID-19 among the elderly in Palestine reached 23,942 persons; (6%) of the total number of infected cases of COVID-19  in Palestine by the end of 25/09/2021.
The Palestinian society is considered a young society, where the percentage of young people is high and the percentage of the elderly is relatively low. 

September 30 Israel
September 29 saw a major leap in Israelis receiving their third dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Over 58,000 people received the booster shot, the highest number in weeks. The rush to vaccinate comes ahead of October 3, when Israelis who have not received a booster shot will see their Green Passes expire, if six months have elapsed since their second jab. Overall, serious cases have hit a five-week low. The number stood at 639, with 266 in critical condition and 219 on ventilators. On the 29th, of the 56 new patients in serious condition, 66% were unvaccinated – despite the unvaccinated accounting for only 15% of the Israeli population. 

The rules for Israel’s proof of vaccination pass – called the Green Pass – will change on October 3, with new regulations determining eligibility. All Green Passes currently in use will expire and those eligible for new passes must get them reissued. In general, the new eligibility rules stipulate that those reissuing their Green Pass must have received their third jab of the coronavirus vaccine, or their second dose in the past 6 months. As of September 30, some 1.6 million Israelis who are entitled to receive the third dose of the coronavirus vaccine still have not done so, meaning they will be ineligible for the new green passport. 

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz met Israel’s top health officials, alleviating tensions after the premier criticized Israel’s COVID-19 experts in several public statements.  At the meeting, Bennett underscored the importance of the medical experts’ opinions, even when it differs from that of the decision makers, the Prime Minister’s Office said.
The meeting followed the public confrontation between Bennett and the Health Ministry’s top medical experts over the latter’s recommendation to impose harsher restrictions on the public to stop the coronavirus spread.

October 1 Occupied territories
Palestine Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas reinstated the state of emergency in the occupied West Bank for 30 days following an increase in the number of coronavirus infections, Wafa reported. Health Minister Mai Al-Kaila said that 1,340 new cases have been confirmed in the occupied Palestinian territories, along with 22 deaths. She also reported that 1,989 people have recovered from the virus. Some 72 COVID-19 patients are in intensive care, including 21 on ventilators.
Meanwhile, Gaza has reported 1,065 cases and five deaths within its population of two million.
COVID measures, along with tightening of the occupation, made 2020 the worst year for the Palestinian economy since the PA’s establishment in 1994, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said in a report earlier this week.
Middle East Monitor
Big News Network

According to the Reuters COVID-19 tracker, cases in the occupied Palestinian territories have fallen to 251 per 100,000 people, or 67% of the peak and falling, reported in the last week. The average number of new infections reported each day has dropped by more than 690, or 28% of the previous peak, over the last three weeks. There have been a total of 434,072 infections and 4,366 coronavirus-related deaths reported since the pandemic began.

  • 435,412 Palestinians tested positive for COVID-19; 405,102 recoveries; 4,388 deaths
  • Of those who tested positive, 234,863 live in the West Bank, 170,193 live in Gaza, [30,356 live in Gaza – ed note: this number is not Gaza – probably East Jerusalem, but I am trying to confirm]
  • 1,285,570 Israelis tested positive for COVID-19; 1,232,292 recoveries; 7,766 deaths

Like many economies, we know Gaza’s plummeted during the first year of the pandemic as borders closed, manufacturing shut down, and employees were laid off. A new analysis from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, or UNCTAD, shows that Gaza’s economy has been shrinking more or less its pandemic rate since 2016.
In effect, what the world has been going through for the last 18 months, is what Gaza has been experiencing for a long time. To put numbers to it, Gaza’s GDP contracted 13.7% in both 2020 and 2019. 
“Persistent extreme levels of unemployment” have led many to resort to “coping strategies that may entail long-term costs, including using poorer food substitutes, selling valuable assets, returning to subsistence agriculture, reducing investments and using inferior inputs,” the report said.
The term “inferior inputs,” refers to energy, e.g., hospitals running on generators, families using candles to light their houses. 

October 1 Israel
Almost 78,000 Israelis received the booster shot against coronavirus on September 30, the highest figure in almost a month, with new requirements for the Green Pass set to come into effect on October 3. On top of this, another 20,000 people received either their first or second dose of the inoculation. In recent days, Israel has witnessed progress along several key indicators, indicating that the virus is on the retreat. Serious cases hit a five-week low, falling to 607. Seventy-three percent of seriously ill cases on October 1 were unvaccinated, with under seven percent of the new serious cases receiving all three doses of the vaccine. 

Israel has removed the last countries from its list of banned destinations due to COVID. No more countries will remain on the list of ‘red’ countries with high COVID infection rate, after the removal of Bulgaria, Brazil, and Turkey on Monday, October 4.

October 2 Occupied territories
Covid 19 infections are decreasing in Palestinian territories, with 1,443 new infections reported on average each day.  That’s 57% of the peak – the highest daily average reported on April 8.

Twelve people have died of coronavirus in Palestine in the last 24 hours as 679 new cases were recorded, today said Minister of Health Mai Alkaila in her daily report on COVID-19 in Palestine. She said six people died in each of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with the latter recording 552 new COVID-19 cases and the former 127 new cases.
A total of 668 patients have recovered in the West Bank from COVID-19 and 1105 in the Gaza Strip.
Alkaila said 179 people infected with the coronavirus disease remain hospitalized and 66 are in intensive care, while 17 patients are on ventilators.

October 2 Israel
The coronavirus cabinet will meet for the first time in a month on October 3, and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz is expected not to ask for tighter restrictions – despite recommendations by others in the ministry to limit large gatherings and events. The planned meeting comes amid a public spat between Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Health Ministry officials. 

Thanks to Trude Bennett.