just about the ultimate april fool’s day prank

Netanyahu Shows Proof Of Iranians Lying About COVID-19 Deaths: It’s Hallmark Channel Series
South Front, Apr 2 2020

On Apr 1, Israeli PM Netanyahu provided evidence to his Cabinet that Iran was concealing deaths from COVID-19 with a video showing corpses being thrown in garbage dumps, Axios reported, citing two unnamed Ministers. Apparently, just hours later it become known that the video had little to do with Iran, and was rather a scene from the 2007 Hallmark channel mini-series “Pandemic.” According to the sources, during a conference call, Netanyahu said he had seen a video of Iranian soldiers loading COVID-19 victims on trucks and then throwing them at garbage dumps. Allegedly, his national security adviser, Meir Ben-Shabbat, had shown him the video. Naturally, since Iran is Israel’s nemesis and such a chance to undermine Tehran’s reputation and influence couldn’t be missed, the ministers asked to watch the video, thus Ben-Shabbat sent it to the entire cabinet. The video had been shared by Iranians on social media over the last week, and it was passed on to Netanyahu without any confirmation of its authenticity. However, the PMO didn’t deny the story, but said that only three ministers received it, after requesting it and they were warned that it came from social media and its contents were unclear. Purportedly, the video is this, due to its sensitive content, those who wish to find it can do so on this link, and viewer discretion is advised. The video very clearly shows scenes from the mini-series Pandemic, as well as some of the deaths part of Hajj, the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, which typically has dozens of fatalities each year. It is likely that scenes are from the 2015 “stampede” which saw upwards of 2,000 die. The scene from the movie, extracted on its own, can be found here, and the entire film can also be found on YouTube, for those who would like to have the questionable honor of watching it in its entirety, here.

Netanyahu is currently in isolation, after an aide tested positive for COVID-19. He, and his family were all tested, and the results came back negative, but he said he planned to remain in isolation, until there’s further instructions of the ministry of health. In the political scene in the country, Israel’s leading opposition candidate, Benny Gantz, has agreed to form a unity government with PM Netanyahu, ending a political deadlock that forced three elections in less than a year. The unexpected announcement sent shockwaves through Gantz’s Blue and White party over the weekend, and comes after he warned former allies in the party that leading Israel into a fourth round of elections was not an option. Gantz, a former general and IOF chief, had previously vowed he would never enter into a unity government with the rightist Netanyahu. Under the agreement, Netanyahu will lead the country for 18 months, then allow Gantz to take over as prime minister. Earlier in March, Gantz’s Blue and White party won 33 seats while Netanyahu’s Likud party won 36 seats, but neither party could form a majority coalition. Gantz said in a Facebook post to his former allies:

I am more at peace today than ever. I am at peace because I did what my nation needs. These are unusual times. Israel is in a state of emergency. Hundreds of thousands of families are hunkering down in their homes. There is a real sense of emergency in the face of a health threat that is taking human life and in the face of the threat of economic devastation.

The draft of the coalition agreement permits funding for housing for both the prime minister and the so-called deputy, the role Gantz is to have for the first half of the proposed unity government, with Netanyahu filling it for the second. Netanyahu was indicted in the corruption cases against him, but there’s very little to come out of it, since he’s still PM, and then he’ll continue being deputy PM. As of Apr 2, Israel has 6,211 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and 30 fatalities.

Israel turns UN praise into propaganda
Tamara Nassar, Electronic Intifada, Apr 2 2020

Palestinian employees at the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, transport food rations to refugee families in Deir al-Balah, the central Gaza Strip, on 31 March. Photo: Ashraf Amra/APA

UN officials are lauding Israel despite how it keeps Palestinians on a drip feed of basic health services as they deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. António Guterres, the UN’s sec-gen, has even celebrated the cooperation between the IOF and the PA in curbing the threat of the new coronavirus.

His praise has predictably been exploited for propaganda purposes by Israel’s foreign ministry. Nikolai Mladenov, the UN’s Middle East envoy, has described the coordination as “excellent.” The UN OCHA McGoldrick has echoed his colleague’s praise.

Not only is the UN applauding the so-called security coordination between the IOF and the PA, it is also providing a fig-leaf for Israel to cover up its continued attacks on the Palestinians’ right to health. Israel has a legal duty to guarantee that right. As the occupying power, Israel is obligated under international law to ensure necessary health infrastructure for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Instead, for more than a decade, Israel has repeatedly undermined and damaged Gaza’s health system, systematically restricted shipments of food, fuel, medicine and building supplies into the Strip, at one point even calculating the minimum number of calories that each person could consume without starving. On top of imposing a devastating siege, Israel has launched three major assaults, leveling entire neighborhoods and killing thousands of Palestinians. It has severely hampered reconstruction after every invasion. Al Mezan, a human rights group in Gaza, stated this week:

Movement and access restrictions, now a state of exception imposed globally by the pandemic, have been a daily reality for Palestinians in Gaza for nearly 13 years.

In the West Bank, Israel has persistently attacked Palestinian communities, seized equipment for the construction of field clinics, confiscated food parcels meant for quarantined families, raided homes in the middle of the night and continued its arbitrary arrest of minors. All of those activities expose Palestinian communities to a higher risk of contracting the virus. Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the PLO executive committee, commented on one such raid in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, the seat of the PA, by comparing IOF to “hostile aliens with no relationship to humanity.”

Ashrawi made no mention, though, of how the PA routinely cooperates with the IOF. The PA’s police state apparatus plays a primary role in suppressing Palestinian dissent on behalf of the IOF, by frequently arresting activists and sharing intelligence with their Israeli interrogators. Now, Israel is patting itself on the back as it wins praise from the UN for providing the bare minimum for people it keeps under occupation and siege. COGAT, the bureaucratic arm of Israel’s military occupation which oversees the collective punishment of Gaza’s two million inhabitants, often takes to Twitter to boast of transferring test kits and other equipment to the Strip. Such transfers are presented as acts of goodwill:

Allowing a few items to reach Palestinians is hardly impressive, though, given that COGAT controls the movement of goods in and out of the Gaza Strip. OCHA, a UN monitoring group, has also remarked on the “close, unprecedented cooperation” between the Palestinian and Israeli authorities since the start of the current health crisis. The group has given Israel credit for facilitating the importation of 10,000 test kits by the PA and for holding a training for medical staff at occupied East Jerusalem’s al-Makassed hospital. These supposed examples of generosity provided ripe material for COGAT to exploit for PR purposes:

COGAT also restricts the movement of millions of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank through military checkpoints. Checkpoints cause misery for Palestinians on a daily basis. Yet COGAT has celebrated how their upgrading will “improve the quality of life of the region’s population.”

Meanwhile, a report prepared by human rights groups has pointed to Israel’s “chronic impunity” over its killing and maiming of Palestinian health workers. The report was signed by Al Mezan in Gaza and the UK-based charities Medical Aid for Palestinians and Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights. Chronic impunity “makes recurrence more likely,” it stated. Israel also regularly denies or delays the issuing of travel permits to Palestinians seeking medical treatment outside of Gaza. So why is the UN applauding Israel for doing the bare minimum for the population it attacks and oppresses? As the celebrated Palestinian writer Ghassan Kanafani wrote:

They steal your bread, then give you a crumb of it, then they demand you to thank them for their generosity … Oh their audacity!

Israel links coronavirus aid for Gaza to recovering the remains of dead soldiers
Reuters, Apr 1 2020

JERUSALEM – Israel on Wednesday linked any assistance it might offer for the Gaza Strip’s efforts against coronavirus to progress in its attempt to recover the remains of two IOF soldiers lost during the 2014 war in the Palestinian enclave. Gaza has reported 12 coronavirus cases, and with just 96 ventilators for a population of 2 million, local health facilities are insufficient to contain a contagion. Both Israel and Hamas have closed the Gaza border to non-essential traffic as a precaution against the spread of the infection. But with Gaza authorities appealing for foreign humanitarian assistance, Israel has been weighing its role. Defence Minister Naftali Bennett told reporters:

The moment there is talk of the humanitarian world in Gaza, Israel also has humanitarian needs, which are mainly the recovery of the fallen, and I think that we need to enter a broad dialogue about Gaza’s and our humanitarian needs. It would not be right to disconnect these things and certainly, our hearts would be open to many things.

Bennett was referring to the remains of an infantry officer and conscript who were killed in the 2014 war and their remains kept by Hamas. Palestinian officials on Wednesday said 1,500 coronavirus testing kits would be brought into Gaza, with the help of the WHO. Hamas said returning the remains of the two soldiers would not be done in exchange for humanitarian aid.

If you want to know about Hamas’ supposed Israeli prisoners, Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, read this, and hopefully you will not blow a blood vessel after doing so – RB

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