Corona Times Report: Kufr Kalil; Sinjil

Ana S. transfers a telephone report.


LOCATION: near Rujeib, Burin, Awarta.

M. told me about his 3,000 fellow villagers in lockdown. We spoke Spanish, which he hasn’t spoken since the 1980s, and though he missed a few words, he was fluent.

NO WORK: companies are closed, Ministries are closed.

OPEN: some groceries, bakeries. 1 pharmacy in every village. All close at 7 pm.  Most baladias, majdeles (municipal offices) are closed to avoid people infecting each other. He works a few hours a day and makes sure there is enough food for everyone.

SOCIAL DISTANCING. people keep it more or less.

CORONA  CASES: only 3-4. now at Nablus Hospital. Their families are in quarantine.

SETTLERS living nearby in Har Bracha, Yitzhar haven’t come “because of the coronavirus.”

RAMADAN will be around 24 or 25 April.

Main worry: the return today or tomorrow of 50,000 unchecked, untested Palestinians who have been working on Israeli building sites. About 30-50 men will then come back home to this village. 

The Israeli Health Ministry and the government agreed to their continuing work if instead of every day commuting back and forth, they remained in Israel. Ignoring government recommendations or assurances, as TV 11 showed a week ago, building contractors did not provide any kind of housing or assistance for their workers. Without any toilet, washing or other facilities, workers slept, cooked and ate on cold, debris-filled floors. As one man said, “ if I had 20,000 sh I wouldn’t be here.”

In a final shrugging off of basic human responsibility, Israel—which doesn’t want them around during Pesach—is sending them home now. Israeli guards at the checkpoints waive them through, without bothering to test them for corona or even measure their temperature. Israel is sending husbands, fathers, and sons home—50,000 potential Coronavirus carriers, with or without symptoms.


SINJIL. Our friend A., as he has called us in past visits, who works 24 hours daily, generously shares 30 minutes with me. In English, he describes how for the last 3 weeks he has been directing a courageous, firm, and efficient coronavirus response in his village of 9,000 people.

5 CASES—3 women and 2 men are hospitalized in Ramallah Hospital.

TESTS. The families and the sick patients’ contacts will be tested again. So far, 120 already were tested.

RETURNING WORKERS. 200 residents have already returned from Israel, and another 100 will arrive soon. None of them was ever tested in Israel. Now, they will all be placed in quarantine in the village.

MEDICAL SERVICES. For now, they manage; the question, says A., is how it will be later. There is no Doctor.

A bright hope: a rich resident offered his land for free to build a hospital.

It must be recalled that, due to his energy and persuasive powers, A. succeeded about 2 years ago in building a football field and lately in acquiring land, permit, and blueprints to build a sports hall (cf.our 28.01.20 report).  

WORK stoppage: no one is working, half of the residents worked in Palestine or Israel. Farmers do go out to their lands, but follow strict rules which A. laid down: they don’t go too far from the village and only a small number at a time. They keep social distancing.

SUPERMARKETS: all observe social distancing.

A. has organized volunteer teams of young people and assigned them chores.

FOOD DISTRIBUTION. A. is busy collecting a big quantity of food in the municipal storage, which includes a freezer. They have 60 kinds of food, he says, among them essentials such as rice, sugar, meat, chicken. Those who can, give money. A team of 20 to 35 years old volunteers, which A. organized, pack food and bring it to the homes of the village poor.

PROTECTION. They all wear masks, gloves, and special clothes. He doesn’t know about next month or even next week, but so far they have sufficient equipment.

WATCHING LOCKIN (seger). Another group of young people observe the village borders, allowing no outsiders to come in.

SETTLERS—Shilo has 10 cases; Eli unknown number. Like the villagers, they are scared of spreading the disease, so have been quiet.

EDUCATION. Teachers are busy giving lessons online, a special program for every class. Almost every family has a computer, and those who don’t, use their smartphones. Parents and older siblings help boys and girls with their lessons.

LEISURE and keeping up MORALE. Special programs in the municipal Facebook offer local news, allowing people to keep in touch when they are all in lockdown. Some lighter items create good morale.

DIRECTING A CORONA VIRUS RESPONSE. Through the municipal Facebook, A. talks to his fellow villagers twice a day, every morning and evening. “I use strong language,” he says to instruct his fellow-villagers on how to prevent spreading the infection. “They all read Facebook, and I also call everyone.” (A. is a pleasant, quiet-spoken man). When necessary, he calls the Ramallah police who come to enforce Corona time rules: so far, only 1% of the residents violated them; they were fined or arrested.

“The village is like one big family, everyone is responsible for everyone else—they all stay home [except for vital needs].”

A. is the only one who goes in and out of Sinjil, to buy food, medicines, and disinfectants in Ramallah. I asked him to call me and let me know how we—where possible— can help them.

For the last three weeks, using his medical training and knowledge, he has been working 24/7 to prevent the spreading of  Corona in his village.