Monday, October 19, 2020

10/19 Links Pt1: Melanie Phillips: Israeli doctors battle to save Saeeb Erekat's life - If only hateful hypocrisy were a curable disease; Washington Should Avoid a Self-Inflicted Wound in the Sinai

From Ian:

Melanie Phillips: Israeli doctors battle to save Saeeb Erekat's life - If only hateful hypocrisy were a curable disease
The 65 year-old Palestinian chief negotiator, Saeeb Erekat, is deteriorating so badly from Covid-19 that he has been rushed from his home in the “West Bank” to a hospital in Israel. It is Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem.

That fact is presumably deeply unpalatable to Erekat’s comrades in the Palestine Liberation Organisation. In a statement on Sunday, the PLO said:
Following his contraction of Covid-19, and due to the chronic health problems he faces in the respiratory system, Dr Erekat's condition now requires medical attention in a hospital. He is currently being transferred to a hospital in Tel Aviv.

The Times of Israel reported that the PLO couldn’t even bring itself to say he was being admitted to hospital in Israel, but said he was being transferred to a hospital in the 1948 areas.

The BBC reported for most of today that Erekat has been admitted to hospital in Tel Aviv, Israel with Covid-19.

In fact, as the Jerusalem Post, Times of Israel and correctly reported, he had been admitted to Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem, Israel. The BBC finally updated its website report this evening to identify the Israeli hospital as Hadassah.

There he will receive the finest care by Israeli doctors in the attempt to save his life. Those doctors will be both Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs. He will be nursed by a staff consisting of Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs. He will be treated alongside patients who are both Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs, and he will be dealt with, as they all are, according to the priority dictated by his clinical needs.

Washington Should Avoid a Self-Inflicted Wound in the Sinai
It does not take much imagination to envision a scenario in which a U.S. withdrawal from the MFO results in the collapse of the organization. The United States provides the largest portion of force protection capability for the MFO, and most of the other nations contribute troops to the MFO based on their relationship with Washington. If Washington were to pull the U.S. military contingent from the MFO, many other troop-contributing nations would worry for the safety of their forces. Some nations would also no longer see any serious benefit in retaining troops there in terms of their relationship with the United States.

It would hardly be surprising to see Beijing or Moscow step into the vacuum created by an American departure, seeking to work with Cairo to establish a new civil or military presence in the Sinai. Ironically, in such a scenario, an American effort to reduce a modest military commitment in the Sinai to compete more effectively with China and Russia elsewhere would give Beijing and Moscow an opportunity to establish a coveted strategic outpost vital to energy, economic, and military security at the intersection of Africa, Asia, and Europe.

Thankfully, key leaders in Congress appreciate the bigger picture. In an extraordinary bipartisan broadside, the Democrat and Republican leaders of the House and Senate Foreign Relations, Armed Services, and Appropriations Committees sent a letter to Secretary Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo regarding the MFO on May 13. The members of Congress warned that a withdrawal of the U.S. contingent from MFO would represent a “grave mistake” that could “ultimately make it more difficult to implement the NDS.”

The Pentagon is right to review U.S. military posture in every combatant command to ensure an optimal military posture that fully aligns ends and means. In the Middle East, an objective review would demonstrate that ending the modest U.S. military contribution to the MFO would endanger key NDS objectives and represent a short-sighted and self-inflicted wound to American national security interests.
FDD: Time to Act on Human Shields
Intelligence information could also help make the case that Iran fits the Shields Act’s criteria for listing as a “foreign state that … knowingly and materially supports, orders, controls, directs, or otherwise engages in” human-shields use by Hezbollah. It may well be possible to make such a case, as Iran has reportedly been sending PGM parts to Hezbollah for assembly at locations such as the Janah, Laylaki, and Chouaifet sites.69 In addition, Israel has said that Rammal was “manufacturing precision-guided missiles in cooperation with Iranian forces,” and that “as part of his role, he visited Iran a number of times.”70

Apart from the legal requirements of the Shields Act, there are strong policy reasons to hold Hezbollah accountable for human-shields use. Hezbollah’s use of human shields puts civilians in danger of explosives accidents, such as those that decimated the Port of Beirut in August71 and detonated a Hezbollah arms depot in the Lebanese village of Ain Qana a few weeks later.72

In addition, a formal U.S. government determination that Hezbollah is engaging in a war crime through the use of human shields could strengthen the argument for the European Union to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist group.73 This argument is made more compelling by recently publicized discoveries that Hezbollah has been storing large quantities of ammonium nitrate, a bomb-making ingredient, in various European countries.74

Imposing Shields Act sanctions on Hezbollah in response to its clear recent violations would also be an important first step toward countering human-shields use against the U.S. and allied militaries by groups such as the Islamic State and the Taliban. In his 2019 request to NATO member countries, General Scaparrotti, in his capacity as NATO supreme allied commander Europe, said, “[I]t is essential that further measures be taken at the national level to maximise enforcement of the international legal prohibition of the use of human shields.” Scaparrotti specifically urged “imposition of sanctions” and “spotlighting of violations.” In light of the frequency and effectiveness of human-shields use against NATO forces, Scaparrotti said that such national measures “would decidedly become a major and substantial contribution” to NATO operations.

Imposing sanctions on Hezbollah for using human shields would set a strong U.S. example for its NATO partners of taking action on these requests from the NATO supreme allied commander Europe. It would also hopefully pave the way for the U.S. government’s collection and deployment of sufficient evidence to impose Shields Act sanctions on the Islamic State and Taliban for their human-shields uses since the date of enactment (December 21, 2018).

It has been nearly two years since the Shields Act became law. Despite considerable prior evidence of human-shields use by terrorist groups, the Trump administration has yet to impose any sanctions under the law. It is time for the U.S. government to use the Shields Act to hold terrorists and their material supporters publicly accountable for the war crime of using human shields.

‘From friends to family’: Israel and Bahrain establish diplomatic relations
Israel and Bahrain on Sunday formally declared that they have made peace and established formal diplomatic relations, only the fourth such agreement between the Jewish state and an Arab country, and the second in weeks.

At a solemn ceremony in Manama, officials from both nations signed eight bilateral agreements, including a “Joint Communiqué on the establishment of diplomatic, peaceful, and friendly relations.”

In that document, signed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s national security adviser, Meir Ben-Shabbat, and Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, the two countries agreed to “recognize and respect each other’s sovereignty and right to live in peace and security, promote lasting security and eschew the threat and use of force… and settle all disputes by agreed peaceful means.”

The document does not mention the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, according to a statement released by the Bahraini government, which it said was a joint statement, the two parties will “continue their efforts to achieve a just, comprehensive, and enduring resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” The text did not explicitly mention the goal of Palestinian statehood or a two-state solution.

The other bilateral agreements signed Sunday — memoranda of understanding — dealt with bilateral cooperation in various fields, including civil aviation, communications, agricultural and technology. They were signed by director-generals of the relevant ministries from both countries.

None of the agreements’ full text was immediately released.
UAE cabinet ratifies normalizing ties with Israel
The cabinet of the United Arab Emirates on Monday approved an agreement to establish full diplomatic relations with Israel that was signed in Washington last month, ahead of the first official visit by a UAE government delegation to Israel.

The UAE and fellow Gulf state Bahrain in September became the first Arab states in a quarter of a century to sign agreements to establish formal ties with Israel, forged largely through shared fears of Iran.

A cabinet statement said the Abraham Accord would be "an avenue of peace and stability to support the ambitions of the region's people, and enhance efforts for prosperity and advancement, especially as it paves the way for deepening economic, culture and knowledge ties." Israel had ratified the deal in a cabinet vote and a parliamentary vote last week. A UAE government delegation is due to visit Israel on Tuesday, accompanied by U.S. officials who arrived in Abu Dhabi on Monday from Bahrain, where they had joined an Israeli delegation on a trip to Manama to sign a communique formalizing nascent ties.

US expected to take Sudan off state sponsors of terror list soon
The US made a deal with Sudan to remove it from its list of state sponsors of terrorism, US President Donald Trump announced Monday.

“Great news!” Trump tweeted. “New government of Sudan, which is making great progress, agreed to pay $335 million to US terror victims and families. Once deposited, I will lift Sudan from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list. At long last, justice for the American people and big step for Sudan!”

While the US favors normalization between Israel and Sudan, a US official reiterated on Monday what has consistently been the American position: that it is a separate matter from Khartoum’s designation.

Still, the leadership of Sudan’s transitional government, instituted after ruler Omar al-Bashir was toppled last year, has been discussing ties with Israel in conjunction with its talks with the US about economic aid and relief from $3 billion in debt The matter came up in a late-night cabinet meeting on Sunday.

The civilian leadership in the Sudanese transitional government, led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, has resisted diplomatic relations with Israel, while the military leadership, with chairman of the Sudanese Sovereignty Council Abdel Fatah al-Burhan and his No. 2, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, favor such ties.
First Commercial Emirati Flight Lands in Tel Aviv
The first commercial flight by Etihad Airways, the national Emirati air carrier, landed at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport Monday morning.

Flight EY9607 cleared the distance between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv in less than three hours, according to the Flightradar.

The Emirati Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner touched the ground in Ben Gurion International at 6:58 AM local time — 11:58 PM, Sunday, Eastern Time.

The historic first follows the signing of a normalization treaty between the two countries, and a peace accord ratified by the Knesset (Israel Parliament).

The Jewish state is expected to host a high-profile delegation from the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday; on Friday, Israel’s Science Minister Izhar Shay warned, however, that the delegation may stay at Ben Gurion Airport as a precaution against COVID-19 coronavirus.

Emirati economic delegation quietly visits Israel, is accosted on Temple Mount
Even as the Knesset voted to approve historic normalization agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates on Thursday night, an economic delegation of citizens from the Gulf nation was quietly visiting Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.

“An Emirati delegation headed by His Excellency Khadim Abdullah Al Dar’i, Vice Chairman and Founding Partner of Al-Dahra Agriculture, visited the State of Israel,” the Emirati official WAM news agency confirmed in a statement on Monday.

Al-Dahra Agriculture is a major exporter of animal feed and other essential food commodities, such as flour and rice. Even though Al-Dahra is a state-linked enterprise, the Emirati group that arrived in Jerusalem was not an official government-to-government delegation. Rather, Al-Dar’i and his team arrived at the invitation of Netafim, a major Israeli irrigation technology firm.

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A spokesperson for Netafim did not respond to multiple requests for comment, but according to the Emirati press release, Netafim will open a regional office in the UAE where it will collaborate with Al-Dahra.

Members of the delegation also met with Agriculture Minister Alon Schuster, who announced that a memorandum of understanding had been signed between his ministry’s Volcani research institute and the Al-Dahra company.

UAE-Israel treaty: Data insights will be key for sizing up deals
Businesses in the UAE and Israel are seeing immense opportunities around trade, investment and collaboration following the signing of the Abraham Accord, an agreement to normalise relations between the two countries, say senior executives at Dun & Bradstreet, one of Wall Street’s oldest data and analytics providers.

The status of the UAE as a pre-eminent business and logistics hub – a gateway to the Middle East and Africa – as well as demand for innovation and high-tech solutions will attract Israeli companies and set the scene for greater collaboration, says Doron Cohen, Executive Chairman of Dun & Bradstreet Israel.

“There is only one word to describe all of this, and that is ‘excitement’,” says Cohen. “This is an opportunity that I didn’t believe I would see in my lifetime.”

A flight time of around three hours between the two countries is a drawcard for businesses, investors and travellers.

Tourism in the UAE is set to be one of the first industries to get a boost from the accord, with an influx of Israeli tourists expected as Covid-19 is contained and regular flights begin, says Manjeet Singh Chhabra, Managing Director – CRIF Gulf (Dun & Bradstreet).

The opening of new kosher restaurants and kosher options at hotels should make the Emirates more attractive to Jewish visitors.

JPost Editorial: The Joint List - On the wrong side of history with Israel-UAE deal
Obviously, the Joint List is entitled to hold independent opinions and to vote and release announcements freely like any other party in a democratic system.

But one must wonder are the motives behind their positions? In reality, the deal with the UAE stopped the plan to annex parts of the West Bank – a move that could have harmed the Palestinians, which the party claims to represent – and created unprecedented opportunities for the Arab citizens of Israel, the actual constituency of the Joint List.

The Arabs, who speak the language and understand the Gulf’s culture from within, would be the group that could benefit the most from this deal, including spearheading the teams that establish economic ties between the two countries.

It seems that the Joint List, or at least parts of it, has been undergoing major changes over the past few years. If it was once vocal mainly around diplomatic issues and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it now focuses more on domestic issues – like police brutality, fighting the novel coronavirus and civil equality for Arab Israelis. It also proved that it can recommend a candidate to form a government if he or she meets their terms – a move it had avoided for years.

Perhaps this trend to pragmatism should also penetrate into the diplomatic sphere.

It was once said that Arab Israelis could be a bridge between Jews and the rest of the Middle East.

We can only hope to see these changes sooner than later.
Father of murdered child ‘nauseated’ BBC gave terrorist killer a platform
Arnold Roth – the father of 15-year-old Malki Roth who was murdered in a 2001 terror attack – has told Sky News host Rowan Dean he is “nauseated” by the BBC giving the woman responsible for the death of Malki and 14 others a platform to gain sympathy.

Ahlam Tamimi supplied a case of explosives to a suicide bomber who detonated it and himself in a Sbarro pizzeria in August, 2001, murdering 15 people, including eight children.

Tamimi was later asked about the attack, appearing gleeful when she was told eight children had been killed.

She was caught and handed 16 life sentences, but released after only 10 years as part of a prisoner exchange.

In a bid to generate sympathy for Tamimi – who was appealing for assistance to reunite with her husband – the BBC pushed out a program about Tamimi and her plea.

“I’m appalled at the way the BBC has approached this,” Mr Roth said.

“I am scouring for any critical comment of either Tamimi or the BBC for this in the Arabic speaking world … and haven’t found any yet.

“I could talk for literally hours from this point going forward about the nonsense that is not only put out by the Jordanians but swallowed up by almost every journalistic organisation in the world.”

France: Head of pro-Hamas group and parent put fatwa on beheaded French teacher
The father of a student and the head of an Islamist pro-Hamas group urged the killing of a French teacher who was beheaded for showing pupils cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, France’s interior minister said Monday, adding that police had carried out dozens of raids in connection with the attack.

“They apparently launched a fatwa against the teacher,” minister Gerald Darmanin told Europe 1 radio of the two men, who are among 11 people being held over the deadly attack by a young Chechen man.

One of the men was named as Abdelhakim Sefrioui, president of the “Cheikh Yassine collective.” Sheikh Ahmad Yassin was a founder of the Hamas terror group. He was killed in an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip in 2004.

According to French newspaper Liberation, Sefrioui was known to French security services for his Islamist activities and anti-Semitic speeches.

In July 2014, Sefrioui participated in protests in Paris, chanting slogans in praise of Palestinian terror groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

He reportedly denounced the teacher in a video posted to social media a few days prior to the attack.

JCPA: The Palestinians’ View of the U.S. Elections
The Palestinians are facing a near-complete disconnection of the Palestinian leadership with the U.S. administration, a reluctance by the European Union to confront the Trump administration over the Palestinian issue, and the disengagement of Arab states from the Palestinian Authority and its leader. The blame for all these failures lies with the Palestinians.

The Palestinian rejection of any peace plan that does not meet 100% of their demands has led the Palestinians to this nadir. Today, Mahmoud Abbas is signaling to Israel, the U.S., and moderate Arab countries that he has no problem joining the "Muslim Brotherhood" axis headed by Turkey and Qatar.

According to PA sources, Abbas has maintained a regular dialogue with former vice president Biden through a well-known businessman and has received a series of promises from Biden, should he be elected, including the repeal of a series of moves taken by the Trump administration, including the U.S. peace plan.

At the same time, there are senior PA officials who estimate that the Palestinian problem will not be Biden's primary concern. They warn that the U.S.-Israel relationship is a strategic alliance between the two countries and that the traditional American political system supports maintaining Israel's security.

These sources say that Donald Trump did not give the PA what it wanted and neither will Joe Biden. "The Palestinians are in for many more years of struggle," a Palestinian observer concluded.
PMW: PA: Arab peace makers are “enemies of the Islamic society,” “worms exposed by the sun,” and Netanyahu is a “distorted copy of Mussolini”
‎PA to Arab peace makers: “These are connections that in reality will be nothing more than ‎the connection between a master and his slave.”‎ ‎“Tomorrow the US and the White House will ask you to erase the ‎Hadiths (i.e., Prophetic sayings) and the verses of the Quran that ‎are connected to the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Jerusalem.”‎

An endless stream of insults from the PA has been pouring down on the heads of the ‎Arab states that dared normalize and agree to make peace with Israel.‎

While the initial announcements of peace elicited accusations of “betrayal,” ‎seeing the foreign ministers of the UAE and Bahrain actually sign the ‎agreements with Netanyahu and Trump at the White House, took the insults ‎up a notch.‎

A fuming Jibril Rajoub - Fatah’s Central Committee Secretary - likened the ‎Arab foreign ministers to “worms” exposed by the sun, and Netanyahu to ‎fascist Mussolini: ‎

Fatah Central Committee Secretary Jibril Rajoub: “At this circus (i.e., ‎signing of peace treaties at the White House), I think the swamps ‎have dried up and these worms (i.e., UAE and Bahrain leaders) ‎have become exposed to the sun. Who would have believed that an ‎Arab leader would stand like a dwarf facing [Israeli Prime Minister] ‎Netanyahu and not mention Jerusalem? … I think that even their ‎speeches were written for them at the White House, and certainly in ‎Tel Aviv of course…This is a ridiculous, stupid, and cheap comedy… ‎What happened is [the result of] dictates from the current fascist ‎administration, and this racist whose name is Netanyahu who is a ‎distorted copy of Mussolini, and of everything that happened in the ‎‎1930s and 1940s in Europe.”‎

[Official PA TV, Sept. 15, 2020]‎

Top Hamas Official: Arab States Cut Financial Aid to Palestinians Over US Pressure
Arab states have stopped giving money to the Palestinian Authority due to US pressure, Deputy Hamas leader Saleh al-Arouri said on Friday.

Arouri’s comments were aired by Hamas-run Al-Aqsa TV as a rocket, fired from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, landed in an open field in Israel.

“There are Arab countries that froze their commitments to the Palestinian people, whether via the PA or PLO, because of an American decision. To be clear, an American decision. They came to our brothers in the PA and told them: ‘We won’t pay you a thing after today.’”

Arouri added that the United States had also severed its monetary aid to UNRWA, the United Nations relief agency for Palestinian refugees, and has asked other countries to do the same.

The deputy Hamas leader claimed that Israel was the ultimate author of such policies.
PLO’s Erekat on Ventilator With COVID-19, Israeli Hospital Says
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, hospitalized in Israel with COVID-19, was placed on a ventilator on Monday after his condition deteriorated, a spokeswoman for the facility said.

Erekat was rushed to Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Center on Sunday from his home in the West Bank. He contracted the coronavirus on Oct. 8.

Erekat, 65, is considered especially vulnerable to the illness because he underwent a lung transplant in the United States in 2017, which suppressed his immune system.

“Mr. Erekat had a quiet night but this morning his condition deteriorated, and it is now defined as critical,” a statement from Hadassah spokeswoman Hadar Elboim said.

“Due to respiratory distress, he was put on a ventilator and placed in a medically induced coma,” it added.

The statement said Erekat was also being treated for a bacterial infection.
Some MKs say Israel should have demanded Palestinian concessions to treat Erekat
Several lawmakers on Sunday condemned a decision to admit senior PLO official Saeb Erekat to a Jerusalem hospital for COVID-19 treatment, saying that Israel should have demanded that the Hamas terror group in Gaza first return the civilian captives and the soldiers’ bodies it is holding.

The call came from a number of MKs, from both the coalition and opposition, after Erakat was brought to Israel earlier in the day from his home in the West Bank city of Jericho. He is being treated at Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem, which said he is in serious but stable condition in the coronavirus intensive care unit.

Erekat, 65, is considered to be at high risk for complications from the virus. He survived both a mild heart attack in 2012 and a 2017 lung transplant after years of suffering from pulmonary fibrosis, a condition that scars the lungs and damages their ability to circulate oxygen.

His transfer to Israel was approved by Defense Minister Benny Gantz.

MK Michal Cotler-Wunsh of Gantz’s Blue and White party said Israel should treat him, but only if it received concessions from the Palestinians, calling for Israel to implement a reciprocity policy of “humanitarian in return for humanitarian.”

Iran Threatens Gulf Countries Making Peace With Israel
Iran is escalating threats toward the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain, after the United States helped broker peace deals between Israel and the two Gulf states.

“Any apparent or clandestine activity by the Israeli intelligence services or their agents in the Islamic Republic or the region, the response will not be directed at the Zionist entity only, and the UAE will be part of the response,” said Iranian deputy House Speaker Hassan Abdel Lahian.

“Alliance with the Zionist regime will put the security of Bahrain and the Emirates at a greater risk than in the past,” a September 13 statement from the Iranian parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission warned.

“The executioner ruler of Bahrain should await the harsh revenge of the Mujahideen (jihadist fighters) aiming to liberate Quds (Jerusalem) and the proud Muslim nation of this country,” Iran’s terrorist Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said in a statement.

Iran has tried to carry out attacks in Bahrain before. And Bahrain foiled a terrorist plot in March 2018, arresting a militant cell comprised of 116 IRGC members. “The network was planning to target Bahraini officials, members of the security services … vital oil facilities and industries, with an aim to disturb security and public order and undermine the national economy,” Bahrain’s Interior Ministry alleged. Iran rejected the Bahraini accusations as “baseless, repetitive accusations.”

Bahrain claimed that IRGC affiliates, including Iraqi militia groups such as Asaib Ahl al-Haq and Lebanese Hezbollah were involved in the foiled attack.
As UN embargo expires, Iran says it’s more inclined to sell weapons than buy
Iran on Monday said it is more inclined to sell weapons than buy them, after it announced the end of a longstanding UN conventional arms embargo.

Tehran said the ban imposed more than a decade ago was lifted “automatically” as of Sunday, based on the terms of a 2015 landmark nuclear deal with world powers, from which the Islamic Republic’s arch-enemy the United States has withdrawn.

“Before being a buyer in the arms market, Iran has the ability to supply” other countries, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told reporters.

“Of course, Iran is not like the United States, whose president seeks to sell deadly weapons to slaughter the Yemeni people,” he added, referring to US weapons purchased by Saudi Arabia, which leads a military coalition in Yemen — fighting Houthi rebels backed by Tehran.

Iran provides weapons to a network of terror groups in the Middle East, including Lebanon’s Hezbollah and the Gaza Strip’s Hamas, as well as the Assad regime in Syria and jihadist militias in Iraq.

The lifting of the embargo allows Iran to buy and sell military equipment including tanks, armored vehicles, combat aircraft, helicopters and heavy artillery.
Assad Enforces Mask Mandate by Spraying Syrian Cities with Chemical Weapons (satire)
In a new move to enforce the new nationwide mask mandate, Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad announced a new plan to use chemical weapons as a scare tactic. The plan comes after the spread of the novel coronavirus across the country threatened Assad’s nine-year run as the nation’s leading cause of death.

“It is a very easily enforceable solution,” said a spokesman of al-Assad’s. “It is much harder to require masks against an invisible killer. It follows, then, that it’s only logical to spread a visible killer through the streets, which is why we are now requiring all killer gas used as weapons be clearly colored and have a distinct smell.” The Syrian plan is expected to be applied first in neighborhoods with community exposure to the virus and is expected to lower potential virus deaths by ensuring those exposed pass away before the 14-day incubation period.

“We are merely listening to the advice of experts,” said the Syrian Health Minister. “Studies show that when chemical weapons are used, citizens are more likely to wear masks, and that masks lower the risk of exposure to the virus.” Similarly, the Syrian Health Ministry also announced a plan to increase bombing frequency to ensure more effective social distancing take place.

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