Aug. 10, 2020 – By STEVE ARNOLD
A Hamilton, Ont., Member of Parliament has quietly deleted a tweet that accused Israel of demolishing a COVID testing centre in the Palestinian city of Hebron.
The controversial June 19 tweet drew angry responses from the Israeli Embassy in Ottawa and Jewish advocacy agencies, including B’nai Brith and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA).
“Pleased to see MP Matthew Green belatedly delete his false anti-Israel tweet, but an MP should be transparent enough to admit such a mistake, so that his followers aren’t misled,” B’nai Brith Canada tweeted after discovering that Green’s posting was no longer available.
In June, Green, the NDP member for Hamilton Centre, said “hundreds” had contacted him with “serious concerns” over allegations that Israeli forces had demolished a badly-needed COVID testing centre in Hebron.
“I condemn this blatant disregard for human life during this pandemic,” Green stated.
His tweet missed its mark on several fronts. Just before it appeared, the Jerusalem Post reported that the civil authority in Hebron tore down a building there in July, but it was a car dealership being constructed without approval.
Only after the building was demolished did the owner post a notice claiming it was to have been a COVID test centre.
In April, Israel did demolish a planned but unapproved COVID clinic in the predominantly Palestinian neighbourhood of Silwan, just outside Jerusalem’s Old City.
The Israeli Embassy said the structure was operating without required municipal permits, and pointed out that there are several health centers close to Silwan that provide free COVID services to anyone.
“There are dozens of health facilities within a 5km radius of Silwan (excluding 7!! major hospitals) legally administering #COVID19tests and treatment to ALL, regardless of religion/cultural background,” the Embassy tweeted.
“Like Canada and its municipalities, lawful permits are required to build new structures, especially ones that administer health care.
“Just as it would not be acceptable for an unauthorized makeshift ‘testing’ facility to be constructed in someone’s front yard in Hamilton, it is also the case in Israel,” the Embassy’s statement added.
An unnamed Civil Administration spokesman told the Post that “contrary to the false claims, this was not a center for coronavirus testing,” and not a health clinic. “That’s a total lie. We condemn the cynical use of a global crisis at the expense of the Palestinians in Hebron,” he added.
Green did not respond to an e-mailed request for comment.