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July 23, 2020 1:52 pm

Israel Refutes Claims It Demolished Coronavirus Testing Center in Hebron

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

A member of the Palestinian Authority (PA)  security forces gestures as he speaks with a truck occupant at a checkpoint after PA President Mahmoud Abbas extended a state of emergency in response to the coronavirus crisis, in the West Bank city of Hebron, May 5, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Mussa Qawasma.

Israel’s civil administration body in the West Bank denied on Wednesday that it had destroyed a Palestinian construction site in Hebron intended for drive-through coronavirus testing.

The Defense Ministry’s Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) tweeted, “False claims have been made recently that the Civil Administration & the Hebron District Coordination and Liaison Office have demolished or intend to demolish a building site in Hebron designated for COVID-19 testing.”

“Any such reports are unequivocally false & without basis,” it declared.

“A foundation was built at the site in question both illegally and for private purposes,” COGAT continued. “After a stop work order was issued and construction equipment confiscated, as is protocol, a sign was hung at the location advertising planned construction of a coronavirus testing site.”

“No request was received by the Civil Administration, the Palestinian Authority, or international organizations working in the area regarding the construction of a COVID-19 testing site at the location,” it added.

The Middle East Eye reported on Tuesday that Israel had demolished the planned testing center.

The owner of the area where the center was to be built, Raed Maswadeh, was quoted as saying that he wanted to construct it in honor of his grandfather, who had died of the virus.

Maswadeh said he did not apply for a permit to build the testing center because he knew Israel would not grant one.

“If we applied for a permit, we would not have gotten it. We thought maybe during Covid-19, there would be some exceptions,” he said.

He added that construction had been underway for two months before a military order was given to stop the building.

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