Israel keeps Spanish citizen Juani Rishmawi imprisoned while using COVID as a biological weapon against Palestine

The following article, by Daniel Lobato, Liliana Córdova, and Jaldia Abubakra of
Samidoun España was published originally in Spanish on InfoLibre: 

The health worker Juana Ruiz, Juani Rishmawi, Spanish and Palestinian, has been imprisoned by Israel since April 13 along with two other colleagues from the Health Work Committees. After several weeks without charges, Israel has revealed the grotesque, and is going to accuse her of running a terrorist financial plot. Juani has obtained funds from NGOs and Spanish regional governments so that Palestinian primary care centers have been able to continue treating basic health in Palestine during these decades, and especially during the COVID pandemic.

The context that motivates this unjust judicial facade is the increasingly cornered position of Israel on different levels, although it may seem the opposite if we are guided by the infomercials that the Western media make of Tel Aviv. A progressive geopolitical cornering, despite its agreements and pictures with Gulf feudal monarchies, and a growing political and social cornering, despite the intrigues and pressures of its lobbies on western governments and courts.The accusation of being an apartheid regime has even come from an NGO like Human Rights Watch: and the crime of apartheid is a crime against humanity. A systemic apartheid that has manifested itself in all its sadism during the COVID pandemic, using the virus as a weapon against Palestine. This is State terrorism along with other Israeli crimes that are already in the International Criminal Court.

But before detailing this collective Israeli punishment of the Palestinian population with the virus, of which Juani’s imprisonment is a part, we must know the repressive machinery that has been thrown on her.

Israel has followed the procedure applied to Palestinians: early morning detention by a military battalion, without charges, without trial, without legal assistance, without visits, with unexpected transfers between detention centers at any time and in terrible conditions, and on many occasions with physical or psychological torture. Until the military courts wish. Juani may be released tomorrow, or perhaps in six months or two years.

Because Juani, as five million Palestinian civilians in the ghettos of West Bank and Gaza, is subject to the arbitrary decisions of the Israeli military courts in those territories. With a 99.7% conviction rate in case of going to trial. To be precise, it is even worse for the Palestinians locked up in the Gaza ghetto against their will (and against international law): the entire population of Gaza, including girls and boys, can be considered “illegal combatants” by the courts and Even harsher laws are applied to them.

Misinformation or manipulation by most of the media, makes us think that West Bank and Gaza ghettos should be ruled by the indigenous administration subcontracted by Israel, EU and USA for these native reserves, called Palestinian Authority. The one who truly governs in those territories is the Israeli military governor appointed by Tel Aviv, and who is always in media anonymity. Those military governors have promulgated successive military orders for decades, which are aberrant under the magnifying glass of international law. They have erected the legal walls of the military dictatorship that is the Israeli colonial administration over the ghettos. At the same time, the illegal concrete wall that encloses the West Bank and Gaza was also being built. 800,000 Palestinians have been imprisoned or arrested in this way since 1967, and 80,000 in the last 20 years. An average of more than 10 people a day. There are always between 150 and 200 minors incarcerated, also by military courts.

Juani is Spanish and Palestinian, with 35 years working for health in primary care centers. As a Palestinian woman, she is suffering the oppressive treatment intended for any other Palestinian person. As a Spanish woman, she may be lucky, and diplomatic efforts will accelerate her freedom.

But Juani has a third identity: a health worker. What the case of Juani and her companions shows -spending a lifetime working for health in Palestine- is Israel’s use of the COVID pandemic as a biological weapon against the Palestinian ghettos.

While Israel is obscenely praised in the Western media for its successful vaccination campaign, the crimes it has perpetrated using the virus have been covered up.

Israel is the internationally recognized occupying power of the Palestinian territories of East Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank. Shortly after the pandemic began, Israel closed a Palestinian COVID testing clinic in Silwan, East Jerusalem, announcing its strategy of collective punishment with COVID to the Palestinian population, including the thousands of Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails.

Faced with the Israeli sanitary abandonment to East Jerusalem, palestinian NGOs organized to get two hotels as field hospitals, to launch a COVID hotline in Arabic, and file a lawsuit to Israeli Supreme Court to force Tel Aviv to carry out PCR tests in East Jerusalem and in Palestinian populations within Israel, cities, or Bedouins of the Naqab/Negev desert.

But the Israeli strategy continued, and Palestinian disinfection teams in Jerusalem and West Bank were arrested. Precisely in the West Bank, the almost non-existence of COVID tests forced the Palestinian Authority to decree the confinement before Israel implemented it. At that time, 80% of the cases detected in the West Bank were Palestinian workers in the Israeli state, who every morning leave the ghetto and return every night, without Tel Aviv giving them the minimum health care, on the contrary, forcing those who they were ill to return to the ghetto without warning the indigenous Palestinian administration.

During this time of pandemic, Israel has multiplied the destruction of Palestinian infrastructure in its historic process of indigenous ghettoification and ethnic cleansing in slow motion, including a field clinic in the Jordan Valley, or COVID detection centers.Throughout this period, Netanyahu was busier in his electoral loop and in announcing that he was going to declare annexed almost the entire West Bank, which by the way is de facto annexed. The list of Israeli aggressions is huge against the precarious Palestinian health efforts in the fight against COVID.

But the worst was yet to come with the development of vaccines. The israeli denial of vaccines to Palestinian population in the ghettos of Gaza and West Bank is a very serious violation of international law, specifically the Fourth Geneva Convention by which the occupying power must provide health services to the occupied population. In addition to this new crime of apartheid, the Israeli regime prevented the entry of the first batch of Spunik V vaccines into Gaza, acquired by Palestinians through COVAX mechanism, which offers to the rest of the planet the leftover crumbs of the COVID vaccine rapine carried out by the powers of the global north. In this vaccine looting of the powerful, Israel accumulated a surplus of vaccines, once again denied to the Palestinians, and destined to reward the ruling elites of some countries that applaud Israeli violations of international law.

This is the context in which our friend Juana Ruiz, Juani Rishmawi, and her two colleagues from the Health Committees have been imprisoned. She has been one more piece in the Israeli machinery for the use of COVID as a biological weapon against the Palestinian population, in the midst of a systemic apartheid, which has been denounced for decades by Palestinians, a few years ago by the UN, and finally recently, by Israeli and international NGOs as HRW.

We demand their immediate release; we demand the immediate release of all Palestinian political prisoners; and we demand that this succession of crimes against the Palestinian population be added to the case that the International Criminal Court has launched against Israel; We also demand that the states of the world end their impunity, and that through sanctions and boycott they force Israel to abide international law.


As members of the Samidoun Network in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners:

Daniel Lobato (Palestine solidarity activist), Liliana Córdova (Jewish anti-Zionist activist) and Jaldia Abubakra (Spanish-Palestinian activist)