QUARANTINE - DAY 9 - 14th March 2020
"Does anyone understand the toilet paper fetish which has hit the U.K. and now the US? Speaking from deepest quarantine in Bethlehem, we have no panic buying and no shortages! That comes from long experience of Israeli curfews, which are the same but without guns! Best thing is the marked absence of the Israeli army who are keeping well away!" These are words on a Facebook post today as the UK and US struggle with empty supermarket shelves, particularly toilet roll, through panic buying.
As Jordan today announces the closure of airports and educational establishments, foreign students there scramble to get flights back home before Tuesday. One young Italian student in Amman makes plans to maybe fly to Slovenia and walk across the border to Italy and back home.
In Beit Sahour, Bethlehem, a young woman shares her daily routine under quarantine..
More people are declared to be carrying the CoronaVirus; this disease is spreading so fast. As a result, roads are being closed (from and into Bethlehem), roads inside Bethlehem itself, checkpoints surrounding Bethlehem and foreigners are deported. The Palestinian Authority has taken serious actions to reduce spreading the virus and protect people: do not go out of your house, clean your hands (might sound obvious but it’s not!), no hugging, no kissing. And the most dangerous: do not dare SNEEZE in public.
I am a young woman from Beit Sahour, living the quarantine experience (hilarious) with my family that consists of six members. In fact, despite the tragic part of being locked at home for 24hours, stressed about being afraid to be infected myself (even though I have been informed that the virus is not dangerous on me but probably dangerous that I could infect old people and those with heart and respiratory problems). I still find it interesting to observe and describe how we (normal people of Bethlehem) live these 24 hours and tell you about the sarcastic part of our Palestinian culture that is exploding to its peak during these days.
2018’s logo was: Live it differently!
2019’s logo was: Live it Right!
2020’s logo is: Live if you Can!
You wake up at 10h00 (that’s if you are a morning person), drink your coffee, surf your Facebook for CoronaVirus news, see if there is anyone you may know carrying the virus (so you would feel bad for them and grateful for yourself), have some breakfast with your siblings, help your mom clean the house (it gets dirty very quickly since everyone is staying in), make another coffee, smoke Shisha/Nargila (it’s for socializing), have lunch, take a nap, facetime your best friend (gossiping time), exercise (because you need to burn all the fat you are gaining from eating all day), watch a movie, another Shisha (while surfing Facebook and eating snacks of course), watch your Turkish series then go to sleep.
Those quarantine days reminded Palestinians of the First Intifada: curfew (almost) , Israel forcing closure, people can't go to work, Palestinians are receiving aid just as it was back in 1987. But let's look at the bright side of the story: people are showing real solidarity through staying home, following the PA’s instructions and caring for each other's lives. Also, nearby Palestinian cities are sending food and medical aids to be distributed to people in Bethlehem. Moreover, social committees have been established to provide social, medical and every kind of help in each town in the Bethlehem governorate. In fact, the World Health Organization has declared that Palestinians have followed the best measures of quarantine to fight the Corona Virus so far. Why not? It's not the first time that we are asked (or forced) to remain home during a catastrophe (Israeli occupation has trained us so well with all the closures and life restrictions that are imposed on us since 1948). But today, all we needed is good leadership and some instruction.
Let's just admit: WE ARE EXPERIENCED. We are survivors!
“Let’s turn off the lights and celebrate New Year ’s Eve, we are done with 2020, it's time to announce 2021!”
Since we are living in the Holy Land (homeland of the Abrahamic religions), we cannot separate the religious presence of this catastrophe. Christians and Muslims are showing real solidarity and consensus with each other, and religious groups are going in big cars spreading incense in the city of Bethlehem. For both Muslims and Christians incense is a tool used to keep away bad spirits, envy and diseases. So suddenly the whole city of Bethlehem was transformed into a small church or mosque where believers are in unity under the name of God.
However, this difficulty and the sense of panic did not prevent Palestinians practicing their sense of humor by making jokes and even songs about CoronaVirus.
“I never imagined dying from a (Made in China) product”
Palestinians’ expectations for the upcoming months of the year 2020:
August: Anonymous meteor hitting earth
December: A lot of babies will be born, if you know what I mean.