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Media Summary

Khamenei says US used coronavirus to target Iran

The Independent, BBC News and the Associated Press report that Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, has rejected America’s offer of aid to help the country with its battle against coronavirus, after suggesting the US cooked up a ‘special version’ of Covid-19 to target Iran. Reuters reports that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the US should lift sanctions if it wants to help Iran to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

The Times and Reuters report that Israel’s caretaker prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, suggested that if he could create a national unity government, he would make way for Benny Gantz, leader of the opposition, in September next year.

The Associated Press reports that Israeli forces shot and killed a 32-year-old Palestinian man early on Monday who was hurling rocks at Israeli troops, the Palestinian health ministry and the Israeli military said.

The Associated Press reports that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s political opponents on Sunday asked Israel’s Supreme Court to force parliament to resume its full activities, despite restrictions imposed because of the coronavirus outbreak.  

The Guardian, The Jewish Chronicle and Reuters report that the first two cases of Covid-19 in Gaza have been confirmed, raising fears about how the besieged territory’s overstretched health system will cope if the virus spreads through its population of 2 million.

Reuters reports that war-ravaged Syria confirmed its first case of the coronavirus on Sunday after weeks of rejecting opposition allegations that the disease had already reached a country with a wrecked health system, thousands of Iranian-backed militias and Shi’ite pilgrims.

The Associated Press reports that the United Arab Emirates, home to the world’s busiest international airport, announced early on Monday that it was suspending all passenger and transit flights for two weeks to stymie the spread of the new coronavirus.

In the Financial Times, Turkey’s foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, argues that the EU’s inaction on Syrian refugees is a “stain on human conscience”, asserting the EU and Turkey must work together more comprehensively to stabilise a “common neighbourhood”.

In the Financial Times, Andrew England and Najmeh Bozorgmehr assess why coronavirus could be more economically debilitating to Iran than US sanctions, as the outbreak may “throttle” many of the new “trading relationships on which Tehran depends”.

The Israeli media reports that 1,238 Israelis have tested positive for coronavirus with 24 people in a serious condition. Over the weekend, the first Israeli fatality, an 88 year old Holocaust survivor died from the disease in Jerusalem. Haaretz reports there are now 57 cases in the West Bank, the majority of them in Bethlehem. The Palestinian Prime Minister ordered a lockdown last night. In Gaza, the first two cases were detected in patients who returned from Pakistan.

All the Israeli media report that the Attorney General approved a request to delay daylight saving time, due to start this week, in order to reduce the amount of time in a day people can spend outside their homes.

Yediot Ahronot includes an interview with Health Ministry Director General Moshe Bar Siman Tov where he says: “We have several scenarios that are constantly being updated. The central question is what will happen to the sick people who need to be respirated at the peak of the disease.  Ultimately, we will be able to cope with the number of sick, the challenge is those sick who need help breathing. I am working on the assumption that at its peak, thousands of sick will need ventilators….We are preparing a great many beds, in general hospitals as well as in geriatric centres and in hotels, that will be used based on how acute the situation of the patient is. We are also buying more and more ventilators. Our scenario is that the peak of the disease will occur next winter.”