That Israel does not care a bit about human rights law when it comes to the Palestinians should not come as a surprise to anyone. But the recent action of Israeli police shuttering a COVID-19 screening facility in the East Jerusalem is also a blatant violation of specific articles of the four Geneva Conventions (GCs) – the most significant texts of International Humanitarian Law. The fact is that Israel is an occupying force, and as such, it is obligated under the GCs to ensure that the adequate provision of medical facilities and supplies are provided.

Silwan, where the Israeli police closed the testing centre, is known for containing almost half of the known coronavirus cases in Jerusalem. And if the opinion of the local health experts carries any weight, there is also a severe shortage of testing kits in the area. While many shy away from calling the Israeli actions exploiting COVID-19 to perpetuate a subtle genocide of the Palestinians, there is a need to view them as just that.

Israel’s actions amount to using the coronavirus as a biological weapon against the Arab population living under its occupation. While the Israeli forces closed the premises alleging that the facility constituted an “illegal” effort, as the Palestinian Authority was overseeing the centre, it cannot fool the world with using a legal lexicon. Israeli actions in East Jerusalem threaten to fuel further coronavirus transmission among the Palestinians.

Shutting down the centres and not ensuring supplies of medical provisions necessary in the fight against pandemic are enough evidence for understanding Israeli intentions. Therefore, the apartheid regime cannot be trusted to safeguard the interests of the Palestinians as the former’s actions raise a larger question over the status of East Jerusalem. The situation demands global attention; it is the need of the hour to allow human rights groups to evaluate the situation for clarity and redressal.