Monday, March 16, 2020

From Ian:

Israeli Nobel Laureate: Coronavirus spread is slowing
However, that doesn't mean Levitt is dismissive of the precautions being put in place by governments around the world.

“You don’t hug every person you meet on the street now, and you’ll avoid meeting face to face with someone that has a cold, like we did,” Levitt said. “The more you adhere, the more you can keep infection in check. So, under these circumstances, a carrier will only infect 1.5 people every three days and the rate will keep going down.”

Isolation and limiting social contact is not the only factor at play, however. In Wuhan, where the virus first emerged, the whole population theoretically was at risk of becoming infected, but only 3% were.

The Diamond Princess cruise ship represented the worst-case scenario in terms of disease spread, as the close confines of the ship offered optimal conditions for the virus to be passed among those aboard. The population density aboard the ship was the equivalent of trying to cram the whole Israeli population into an area 30 kilometers square. In addition, the ship had a central air conditioning and heating system, and communal dining rooms.

“Those are extremely comfortable conditions for the virus and still, only 20% were infected. It is a lot, but pretty similar to the infection rate of the common flu,” Levitt said. Based on those figures, his conclusion was that most people are simply naturally immune.

Looking at the picture globally, Levitt was reticent to make predictions country-by-country as to when the spread of the virus will slow. China is nearing the point at which the number of new infections will be zero, while South Korea had already moved past the median point, and was starting to see a slow down in new infection rates.

Italy's higher death rate, he said, was likely due to the fact that elderly people make up a greater percentage of the population than they do in other countries such as China or France. “Furthermore, Italian culture is very warm, and Italians have a very rich social life. For these reasons, it is important to keep people apart and prevent sick people from coming into contact with healthy people.”

Israel doesn't have enough cases to provide useful data from which to make predictions, Levitt said, although he praised the government for its preventative measures. "The more severe the defensive measures taken, the more they will buy time to prepare for needed treatment and develop a vaccine,” he said.
The IDF's Policies on Coronavirus
The IDF will continue conducting regular situational assessments and will limit the movement of military personnel as necessary.

The IDF’s Home Front Command is assisting the Ministry of Health and civilians as needed. On March 15, 2020, the IDF Home Front Command opened a joint information center with Magen David Adom—Israel’s national emergency medical service—in order to act as a source of information for civilians who may have questions about the virus and increase the response to those infected.

In order to limit the spread of coronavirus in neighboring countries and in the Palestinian territories the IDF has:

- Closed Allenby Bridge border crossing (with Jordan), Erez border crossing (with Gaza), and Bethlehem except for emergencies.
- Conducted joint medical training sessions with the Palestinian Authority.
- Transferred test kits and disinfectant materials to the Palestinian Authority.

The IDF remains committed to protecting the people of Israel and its soldiers from any and all threats, while ensuring continuous and full operational capabilities.


Jerusalem mayor to the people of Italy: We are with you!
Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion expressed solidarity with the people of Italy during the coronavirus pandemic on Sunday when he said “Italy! Jerusalem is with you!” a press release on behalf of his office reported.

The walls of the Old City of Jerusalem were lit with the colors of the Italian flag in a show of support to the hardest hit nation after China with COVID 19.

Lion wished a quick recovery and plenty of health to the people of Italy and everyone in Israel and the world.

Rome and Jerusalem have a long mutual history, one of the founding texts of modern Zionism is the 1862 work by Moses Hess Rome and Jerusalem in which he framed the Jewish question in the framework of modern European, including Italian, nationalism.



Khaled Abu Toameh: Israel Helps Palestinians Prevent Coronavirus; Arabs Betray Them
It is worth noting that Egypt, which has a shared border with the Gaza Strip, did not send any test kits or disinfectant materials to the Palestinians living there.

"After more than seventy years, Lebanon remains the country where Palestinian refugees suffer the most, where they are deprived of many of their economic and human rights, including working in certain professions, procedural complications in obtaining work permits, and denial of the right to own property." — Dr. Mohsen Saleh, Director-General of the Zaitouna Center for Studies in Beirut, arabi21.com, July 20, 2019.

Assad Abu Khalil, a Lebanese-American professor at California State University, who claims to be "pro-Palestinian," does not seem concerned about the severe restrictions imposed on Palestinians by his own country -- Lebanon. Nor does he seem bothered that a Lebanese (and not Israeli) official is the one who is actually calling for placing Palestinians in "mass prisons."

Egypt, for its part, long ago abandoned the Palestinians by essentially sealing its border with the Gaza Strip. The Lebanese, Egyptians and most Arabs perceive the Palestinians as Israel's problem. When the current virus crisis has passed, it is to be hoped that the Palestinians will remember that one country alone came to their rescue: Israel. They might also remember that their Arab brothers betrayed them -- not for the first time, and no doubt not for the last.
Tasked by president, Gantz says he’s aiming for ‘patriotic government’ in days
Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz vowed on Monday to cobble together a coalition “within days” after President Reuven Rivlin tasked the centrist alliance leader with forming a government in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I give you my word: I will do everything to establish within days — as few as I can — a national government, one that is as patriotic and as broad as possible,” Gantz said in an address from the President’s Residence in Jerusalem.

He specified that the government he would form would “protect the interests of the residents of Judea and Samaria [West Bank] and the Arab citizens of Israel, of the residents of the periphery and those in the center.”

“A government that I’ll lead will help Israeli society recover from the coronavirus, as well as the virus of schism and hatred,” he continued.

Gantz said repairing Israel’s healthcare system would be a top priority of his government. Commenting on reports that medical staff in Israel has been battling the coronavirus with insufficient protection gear and supplies, the Blue and White chairman said, he “sincerely hoped” they were “purely a rumor and not a managerial omission.”

He vowed that his government would discuss the “lessons [that must be] learned and the urgent need to restore the public medical system in Israel.”

Gantz then appealed to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who ran a blistering campaign against the Blue and White leader over his his willingness to cooperate with the majority-Arab Joint List party.

Avoiding a handshake metaphor in the social-distancing days of the coronavirus, Gantz said, “I extend my elbows to all the elected factions in the Knesset, including Benjamin Netanyahu, and urge them to put aside the devastating verbal weapons and baseless hatred” in order to join him.

“I’ve always wanted [a] unity [government],” Gantz continued, “unity that comes not at the expense of Israeli democratic and state values.”
When is 61 seats not a majority? – analysis
When is 61 not a majority of the Knesset? Blue and White leader Benny Gantz may be about to find out.

The Joint List, including the long-reticent Balad Party, and Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman put an end to speculation about their next moves when they met with President Reuven Rivlin on Sunday and recommended Gantz to form the next government.

This means Gantz received the recommendations of 61 out of 120 MKs, making him the candidate with the first shot at forming a coalition.

Without the rest of the details, that seems like relatively smooth sailing for the prime ministerial hopeful.

But Gantz’s majority is an illusion. There may be 61 MKs committed to getting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu out of office, but there are not 61 MKs to form a coalition with agreed-upon guidelines.

At most, those 61 MKs – and maybe a 62nd if you count Gesher’s Orly Levy-Abecassis – agree to pass a law that would make it illegal for someone who’s been indicted, like Netanyahu, to be prime minister.

But there are major obstacles on the way to forming an actual government.

If Gantz is aiming for a “coronavirus emergency government,” then the big questions are about Netanyahu.
Blue and White's political hara-kiri
"The Shaheed is the highest form of glory. There is nothing loftier than martyrdom in the name of Allah. The Shaheed opens the way and outlines the route, to liberty and freedom with his blood…blessings to the thousands of Shaheeds in the homeland and abroad, blessings to our Shaheeds and yours within the Green Line, those whom the occupier wanted to term 'terrorists'," .

The above ode to murderous terrorists was recited in Ramallah.by none other than Ahmed Tibi, Member of Israel's Knesset . This is not the speech of a political opponent – it is the inciteful rhetoric of an avowed enemy, and that, by the way, is just fine, because beyond the hypocritical words declaimed by the politically correct, everyone knows exactly who is against whom.

And Tibi is not alone, Joint List head Aymen Odeh. filled with admiration and praise for master "Hassan Nasrallah" because his "resistance" forces won a victory over Israel and forced the IDF to leave Lebanon, places himself in an identical position. These are only two examples of the iniquities of the "moderate" faction of The Joint Arab List, known by that unsuitable adjective only because the Balad faction has included MKs who were arrested and imprisoned for actual terrorist acts.

The tendency to separate Balad from the rest of The Joint List (although they recommended Gantz today for PM, ed.) is a media spin that is meant to clear the rest of the list so that they can be accepted as legitimate members of a coalition government. However, even if we put aside the "extremists" from the Balad faction and turn only to the "moderate" and "legitimate" members of the Joint Arab List, it is clear that we are dealing with an avowed enemy.

This is the reason that during the election campaign, the heads of the Blue and White Party promised over and over that they would not cooperate in any way or by any means with the the Joint Arab List, because they knew that without that promise they would have been defeated in the ballot box. They well know that It goes without saying that the people of Israel is fully aware of the chasm dividing an enemy from a political rival.

Now that Gantz, Ya'alon, Ashkenazi, and Lapid really do have to "Choose between Bibi and Tibi (as the Likud election slogan claimed voters did)", they have decided, against the wishes of many of their voters, to choose Tibi.
Corona cases hit 255, gov't mulls harsher public restrictions
The Health Ministry confirmed Monday that the number of coronavirus patients in Israel jumped to 255 on Monday.

At one point on Monday it said that the number spiked to 344, but then quickly retracted that figure, saying there was a glitch in the reporting system.

The now-retracted spike was the most dramatic daily increase so far in Israel. It was initially speculated that it could be attributed to more testing rather than a higher incidence of COVID-19, the respiratory disease linked to the novel strain.

Two patients are in serious condition and the rest are said to be showing little to no symptoms. So far, four Israelis have recovered from the COVID-19 virus.

Over 50,000 Israelis are currently under home quarantine, as are thousands of healthcare workers, including 950 doctors.

A ministry official said Sunday that there are concrete fears that over 2,500 Israelis have yet to be diagnosed.
As the disease spreads, Health Ministry Director General Moshe Siman Tov told Army Radio on Monday that stricter limitations will have to be imposed on the public to stem the outbreak.

"I wouldn't necessarily use the term 'closure' but we are going to spend a lot more time indoors. Our lifestyle has to change. Things we think are impossible now will seem routine in a few weeks," he said.

Israel is expected to receive advanced testing kits on Wednesday, which would allow laboratories to perform 4,000 coronavirus tests a day, compared to the hundreds they can currently perform.
IDF indicates Iran scaling back terror activity in light of coronavirus
The Israel Defense Forces indicated Monday its primary foe in the region, Iran, was curbing its activities as it grapples with a major outbreak of the coronavirus.

IDF Spokesperson Hidai Zilberman told reporters that the military noted a decrease in the amount of activity in the region by Israel’s enemies, without specifically naming Iran.

“There are countries who have gotten it way worse than us with this corona[virus] story, and as a result their activities are at a slower pace,” Zilberman said.

Iran is among the countries hardest hit by the coronavirus, with hundreds of people reported killed, including a senior cleric on Monday, and at least another 14,000 people infected with the disease.

The real numbers may be even higher, as some have questioned the government’s reporting.

Cabinet ministers, members of parliament, Revolutionary Guard members and Health Ministry officials have been infected, compounding fears about Iran’s response to the global pandemic, which has infected nearly 170,000 people worldwide and killed more than 6,500.

Iran is widely considered Israel’s main enemy in the region, controlling and funding terror groups across the Middle East, notably the powerful Hezbollah terrorist militia in Lebanon.
Questions on This Reuters Temple Mount Story
First, the entire Reuters article on the closing of the Temple Mount/Haram A-Sharif:

Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque shut as precaution against coronavirus by Muslim clericsAli Sawafta, Ammar Awad

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock will shut their doors until further notice, religious authorities said on Sunday, in a move to protect worshippers at Islam’s third holiest site.

Prayers will still be held on the huge open area around the two shrines and other Muslim prayer sites on the sacred compound known to Muslims worldwide as al-Haram al-Sharif, or The Noble Sanctuary, and to Jews as Har ha-Bayit, or Temple Mount.


Questions:

1. If there area is huge, why cannot space for Jewish prayer be located?

2. Why is the area sensitive?
Stuck at home, Jerusalem neighbors join in balcony sing-a-long
It was a spontaneous singalong from the balconies of a Jerusalem block on Sunday evening, as musician Ran Yehoshua led his neighbors in a round of “Bashana Haba’a” (Next Year), the classic Israeli song of hope amid crisis.

Bashana haba’a, neshev al hamirpeset venispor tziporim nodedot.
Next year we will sit on the balcony and count all the migrating birds


Yehoshua had his guitar in hand and amplifier plugged in, and brought his neighbors out to their balconies on their cul de sac in the neighborhood of San Simon.

His street, Ben Tabai, is ringed by apartment buildings, and many of the 1970s-era block apartments have balconies overlooking the interior street.

“We’re really a village on this block,” said Yehoshua, who lives at 8 Ben Tabai.

There are 120 neighbors in their neighborhood WhatsApp group, with lots of young families, sharing information about babysitters and pediatricians, “all the usual stuff,” said Yehoshua.

The idea of hosting a balcony concert came to Yehoshua last week, when the activities he runs through the non-profit that he manages — Latet Pe, helping children who have suffered sexual abuse — were being canceled in schools.
Their weddings axed by virus, couples tie knot on rooftops, in supermarkets
Israelis couples held impromptu weddings in the streets, on rooftops and even in a supermarket on Sunday, a day after the government restricted all gatherings to 10 people to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

The new Health Ministry orders on Saturday dashed the hopes of many couples who were set to get married in the coming days and weeks, prompting mass cancellations of weddings.

Some, however, deftly improvised.

At the Mercaz Harav yeshiva in Jerusalem, guests staggered on the building’s numerous balconies overlooking the courtyard to celebrate with the newlyweds.


In Jerusalem’s Rechavia neighborhood, another ceremony took place with the band placed on a separate balcony as the bride and groom, according to footage shared online.

Others simply got married in the streets.

And shoppers in one Osher Ad supermarket took a pause from their coronavirus panic shopping to extend their well-wishes to another couple that walked down the (supermarket) aisle.


13-Mar-20: It's been three years
A year ago, on this blog, we posted a rueful summary of events that had taken place since the unsealing of US Federal charges against our child's killer on March 14, 2017, two years earlier.

It's at "14-Mar-19: Two years after Federal charges are unsealed, Ahlam Tamimi remains free. How is this happening?" And while it describes some important speeches by US justice officials, along with some meaningful decisions that were years in coming, the bottom line is that the justice process was and is stuck.

Ahlam Tamimi remains today, as she has since October 18, 2011, free in Jordan, living a dream life, unrestricted in her movements. She's able with ease to publish her terror-advocacy views widely, undisguisedly contemptuous of the efforts made by the United States and her victims to see her brought to American justice.

The grotesque savagery of which she openly boasts and to which she confesses has had not the smallest negative impact on her celebrity. Without the smallest doubt, Tamimi is a famous and admired Jordanian today because of the people she killed and not in spite of the killings. That so many of the victims are children (our daughter among them) enhances her fame and standing.
Government funded Arab school holds Heritage Day that wipes Israel off map
A Christian high school in the Israeli-Arab city of Shfar'am held a "Heritage Day for the Palestinian People" this week which denied Israel's right to exist, the newspaper Makor Rishon has reported.

El Oscopia school, which has full control of its own syllabus, put the day aside last week on which students took part in a range of events, including hosting a Palestinian wedding, and cooking Arabic food.

However, despite receiving government funding, the day also included anti-Israeli activities, such as encouraging students to paint the Palestinian flag across a map of the whole of Israel and the West Bank and Gaza, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. The word 'Palestine' was written onto the map in English lettering.

Also included in the event were drawings of "Handala," a well-known symbol of Palestinian defiance created by Palestinian cartoonist Naji al-Ali.

Local council members and political activists attended the event. Activist Murad Hadad wrote on social media that he "could not describe [his] excitement after we entered the school and saw the children at the activity stations."

One of the key pillars of "resistance" is to "cleave to Arab heritage," Hadad said, and thanked the school's headteacher, Farouk Farhad for organising the day.

Three years ago, El Oscopia School was named as an outstanding school by Israel's Education Ministry "in the field of values, social and learning," according to Makor Rishon.

Zionist watchdog Im Tirtzu has called on the Ministry to take immediate action.

“It is inconceivable that an Israeli high school under the supervision of the Education Ministry is brainwashing its students into thinking that they are Palestinians and must hate Israel," said Im Tirtzu CEO Matan Peleg.

"This phenomenon in which Arab youth are being brainwashed to oppose the very country that they live in must end,” added Peleg. "We are calling on the Education Ministry to immediately take action."


JCPA: The Coronavirus and the Palestinians
Alongside the dramatic coronavirus and political developments in Israel, there are also developments on the Palestinian side that may not be as dramatic, but they are worth watching. The coronavirus scare has captured the mind of Palestinian public opinion.

Aside from the obvious issues of Palestinian anxiety about the spread of the disease, according to sources in Ramallah, there are also political concerns related to Mahmoud Abbas’ health, mainly since he is in the highest risk group. The octogenarian receives treatment that weakens his immune system.

According to our sources in Ramallah, Mahmoud Abbas does not receive audiences, and his discussions with operatives in the field are made via telephone. Fatah institutions also do not convene, and their power and coherence weaken; their connection with the district offices grows weaker. The municipality of Jenin, for example, refused to receive a delegation from Ramallah to coordinate the popular struggle against the Trump Plan. Now, the entire “Popular Struggle” program is crashing, including the active participation of Europeans on Friday marches.

On the Temple Mount, the coronavirus is also part of a theological debate. According to sources in east Jerusalem, the Hizb ut-Tahrir (Islamic Liberation Party), which is an anti-Jordanian radical party that also opposes the Palestinian Authority, planned to send a delegation to meet Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad Ben Salman (and possibly the King) to request that Saudi Arabia replace Jordan as the “guardian” of the al-Aksa compound (Temple Mount). The Hizb ut-Tahrir is considered to be robust with strong influence among many of the mosques’ activists. It became clear to Jordan that among the members of the delegation were also Waqf personnel. The Kingdom threatened them that it would immediately stop their salaries if such a delegation visit took place. Several heads of the Waqf rushed to Jordan to wash their hands of the expedition. Then the coronavirus story broke, and the matter was frozen.
PreOccupiedTerritory: COVID19: Hamas Sets Rioter Limit At 100 (satire)
Leaders of the Islamist terrorist group that governs this coastal territory have begun to implement measures to limit the spread of a deadly pandemic, including a cap on the number of violent protesters that may participate at once in a given confrontation with Israeli soldiers guarding the frontier.

Hamas officials warned residents of the Gaza Strip today not to exceed one hundred rioters hurling firebombs, rocks, and other projectiles at armed IDF soldiers at a time, and gave notice that anyone found in violation of the limit will face fines or imprisonment for endangering the others present by increasing the risk of exposure to coronavirus.

“We cannot allow citizens to shirk their responsibility to the community by inviting undue harm,” stated Deputy Minister of Public Health Ighwa Waba. “We have therefore posted enforcers near every flashpoint of violence with the enemy to ensure that no one provoking the Jews into shooting at the protesters will put everyone at risk by increasing the danger of infection.”

Waba noted that Palestinian preventive strategies have so far kept coronavirus cases to a minimum throughout the areas they control. “Now that it’s a useful thing, we will take credit for isolating the Gaza Strip from the outside world,” he explained. “Whereas before this, the Zionist siege was the worst phenomenon in the world and rendered our land the world’s largest open-air prison, worse that Auschwitz, in that Auschwitz never had to deal with a naval blockade. Also, the Holocaust never happened – that’s all a pretext for Jewish dispossession of indigenous Arabs in a place that isn’t Arabia.”
Coronavirus spreads among Iranian militias in eastern Syria
As the coronavirus outbreak spreads through the Middle East, areas of eastern Syria have begun reporting multiple cases of COVID 19 among Iranian and Iraqi nationals serving in Iranian-backed militias in the area.

In Deir Ezzor, a region of eastern Syria near the Iraqi border, six infections were reported at one of the hospitals in Al-Mayadeen, according to Deir Ezzor 24, a local news source. Four of those infected were Iraqi. The other two were Iranian.

On Friday, Abeer Mohammed Al-Salem, a woman from Deir Ezzor, died due to COVID 19, according to Deir Ezzor 24. The news source confirmed that Iranian militia members have died due to the virus as well.

The Assad regime has not officially reported any cases of the coronavirus.

Iranian-backed militias and the IRGC operate bases in the Deir Ezzor area, including the large Imam Ali military base, located near a strategic border crossing between Iraq and Syria.

While Iran is one of the countries being hit the hardest by the outbreak, movement in the Islamic Republic and between Iran and Syria remains largely open, with fears that the virus may be widespread in the Deir Ezzor area. Iranian militia members entering the area are reportedly not being tested before entry.
Lebanon now faces coronavirus shutdown
Beirut's usually congested streets were largely free of cars and pedestrians stayed away from its seafront Corniche as government measures to curb the spread of coronavirus took effect with varying degrees of success on Monday.

Police ordered closed several shops that were open in Beirut in violation of the shutdown order, and a group of swimmers were cleared from the beach in the southern city of Sidon, Reuters journalists said.

The government declared a medical state of emergency on Sunday, announcing a shutdown that included most public institutions and private companies as it looks to rein in the virus that has infected 109 people.

It also also ordered the closure of borders, ports and airport from March 18-29 and said Lebanese are obliged to remain at home except for matters of "extreme necessity."

Beirut traffic was unusually light on typically heavily congested roads.

A security official said compliance with the government decision was still lacking, noting that some people had no choice but to go to work.

"The traffic is definitely less but there are still cars in the streets," he said "There are awareness campaigns but they are not reaching all parts of society."
Austrian parliament urges chancellor clamp down on Hezbollah
All political parties in Austria’s federal parliament on Tuesday passed a resolution calling on Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s government to exhaust all legal methods to stop Hezbollah’s criminal and terrorist activities.

However, the parliament measure stopped short of urging a total ban of Hezbollah’s entire movement within the EU and the central European country.

Austria’s National Council—the formal name of the country’s parliament—asked the federal government to “to take suitable and effective measures to continue to take decisive action against terrorist and criminal activities by Hezbollah supporters in Austria using the entire rule of law; to prevent Hezbollah from being financed through money laundering activities; to re-asses the question of how to deal with Hezbollah within the European Union."

Reinhold Lopatka, an MP for Kurz’s Austrian People’s Party and Ewa Ernst-Dziedzic, an MP for the conservative chancellor’s coalition partner, the Green Party, announced in connection with the anti-Hezbollah resolution that they “recognize the historical responsibility of Austria toward the State of Israel. The existence of Israel should never be questioned.

In order to guarantee the security of the State of Israel in the future, the European Union must once again deal with Hezbollah.”

The resolution was titled “Effective action against Hezbollah.”

Hezbollah demanded in its 1985 manifesto Israel’s “obliteration from existence.”
Coronavirus Iranian deaths at 853, Ayatollah Bathaei-Golpaygani dies
Ayatollah Hashem Bathaei-Golpaygani, a member of Iran's Assembly of Experts, died of coronavirus on Monday morning, Iranian news outlets have reported.

Bathaei-Golpaygani was being treated for the illness in Shahid Beheshti Hospital, where he was taken on Saturday.The country's death toll from Covid-19 has now reached 853 in total, with 129 new deaths in the past 24 hours, a health ministry official tweeted on Monday, adding that a total of 14,991 people have been infected across Iran.

"In the past 24 hours we had 1,053 confirmed new cases of coronavirus and 129 new deaths," Alireza Vahabzadeh tweeted.

A number of politicians, doctors, commanders of the elite Revolutionary Guards and clerics have been infected with the virus in Iran, several of which have died. These include Nasser Shabani, a senior commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Farhad Tazari, the former head of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps’ Political Bureau, and Seyed Mohammad Mir-Mohammadi, a member of Iran’s Expediency Discernment Council, a body that advises Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

To contain the outbreak in Iran, one of the deadliest outside of China, officials have called on people to stay at home.
Iran's Coronavirus Cover-up
Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Ministry of Intelligence and Security have taken charge of dealing with the coronavirus by cracking down on any individual or institution that attempts to reveal accurate information about the origins of the virus or how Iran has become an epicenter of the virus which spreads to other nations.

Massoud Pezeshkian, an Iranian reformist politician, pointed out: "We should have quarantined Qom from day one... This disease is not a joke, which is the way we are dealing with it... The economy and everything will be ruined; it is no joke. What would have happened if they shut down the country for 15 days? If we had done so on the first day, it would not have spread...."

The regime has also threatened to imprison people who provide news about the actual scope of the crisis. Hassan Nowrouzi, the Speaker of the Judiciary Committee of the Parliament, said on February 26 that those who "disseminate fake news regarding coronavirus" will be sentenced from one to three years of imprisonment and lashes.






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