Landowner says Israeli authorities demolished COVID-19 testing site on donated plot

"When we woke up in the morning to find the building destroyed, we were shocked,” landowner Raed Maswadeh tells Mondoweiss
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As the number of coronavirus cases in Palestine continue to soar, Israeli forces demolished this week a COVID-19 testing clinic in the city of Hebron, the epicenter of the outbreak in the occupied West Bank.

According to locals, Israeli forces demolished the clinic in the middle of the night, just before sunrise on Tuesday morning. 

Mockups for the COVID-19 testing clinic in Hebron. (Photo courtesy of Raed Maswadeh)
Mockups for the COVID-19 testing clinic in Hebron. (Photo courtesy of Raed Maswadeh)

Tuesday’s demolition took place just over one week after Israeli forces delivered a stop-work order on the building.

The order gave the landowner, who had charitably donated the plot to the Hebron Municipality, 96 hours to prove he had building permits.

If he did not provide Israeli-approved building permits, the order said, the clinic would be destroyed.

The owner of the land, Raed Maswadeh, told Mondoweiss that over the course of the past week, he had been working with Israeli authorities to retrieve the proper building permissions. 

Because the land, located right at the entrance to Hebron City, is located in Area C, any sort of construction or work on the land requires Israeli permission — a nearly impossible feat, as Israel overwhelmingly denies any Palestinian building requests in Area C. 

Just 24 hours before the demolition, Maswadeh and his lawyer were allegedly told by the Israeli Civil Administration office in Beit El that the permits were approved, and the clinic would not be destroyed.

“We thought everything was fine, and we were really relieved,” Maswadeh told Mondoweiss. “So when we woke up in the morning to find the building destroyed, we were shocked,” he said. 

Remnants of the COVID-19 clinic in Hebron (Photo courtesy of Raed Maswadeh)

According to Maswadeh, Israeli authorities notified his lawyer of the demolition via email in the evening hours of Monday, after his lawyer had closed his office for the day. 

Maswadeh described the actions of the Israeli military and civil administration as “shady,” saying that it was “inhuman” to demolish a COVID-19 clinic in the midst of the pandemic. 

“My family donated our land, and put in hundreds of thousands of shekels of our own money to build this clinic,” Maswadeh said, adding that he was driven to start the project after his grandfather passed away due to COVID-19 complications. 

“This was our way of honoring my grandfather’s memory and helping our community,” he said. “But Israel does not care about that, and they clearly don’t care about Palestinians dying because of the coronavirus.”

Yumna Patel
Yumna Patel is the Palestine correspondent for Mondoweiss.

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For the record: “How Israel obstructs COVID-19 care in East Jerusalem” by Tamarra Nassar, Electronic Intifada, July 23/20 EXCERPT: “The COVID-19 pandemic is not an equalizer. “Rather, it has exposed systems of inequality in seemingly modern health care systems and brought already worn-down ones to the brink of collapse. “The case of occupied East Jerusalem is particularly revealing. “The pandemic unmasked and exacerbated the horrors of Israeli military occupation in the city, according to… Read more »

(cont’d) “Lack of testing facilities” “It took more than one month from the first confirmed coronavirus case in Israel for it to set up a testing facility in East Jerusalem. “The drive-through facility was installed in the Jabal al-Mukabbir neighborhood, which lies outside Israel’s annexation wall, following legal pressure from Palestinian human rights groups. “It was nearly two months later that Israel set up testing centers beyond the wall, and it was only done after… Read more »

Following his conquest of the Palestinian territories in the Six Day War, General Dayan said that it would now be necessary for Israel to make the Palestinians miserable enough to want to leave their homes.

And indeed his words have informed the policies of Israel for the last half century.

Organized inhumanity.

When’s the last time a Jewish owned building was demolished because it lacked the proper permits? I really can’t see that ever happening. And of course permits are usually denied to Palestinians, even Palestinian citizens of Israel. Here in the USA a building inspector would have been on hand as soon as the building process began, and if no permits were presented a red tag would have been placed on the project until a permit… Read more »

This story is a scam. I am not blaming your journalist, but Yumna Patel should check it out – I have received firm confirmation that the so demolished building was actually a car show room and the owner thought he could save it from demolition by claiming it was a Testing Centre. If Yumna is not able to confirm this, I will supply the information I have received. If it turns out this story is… Read more »