Many Arabs and Palestinians took to social media to remind everyone that the only apartheid in the Middle East exists in an Arab country [Lebanon].
Is Lebanon using the coronavirus pandemic to carry out ethnic cleansing of Palestinians?
A directive issued on May 1 by the Lebanese General Security, an agency responsible for immigration in Lebanon, bars, until further notice, the return of "foreign maids" and Palestinian refugees, even if their families have lived in Lebanon for generations. In the eyes of the Lebanese, there is apparently no difference between a "foreign maid" and a Palestinian Arab.
A Palestinian born and raised in an Arab country, in other words, is still considered by that Arab country to be a foreigner.
The May 1 directive, signed by Brigadier General Walid Oun,director of general security at the Rafik Hariri International Airport in Beirut, says, "accompanying maids and people of Palestinian descent" may not board Lebanese expatriate evacuation flights. These are Palestinians from Lebanon who left the country to search for work and are now seeking to return home.
The latest Lebanese measure, denounced by Palestinians and human rights organizations as "racist and inhumane," was exposed when Tarek Abu Taha, a Palestinian with Lebanese travel documents stranded in the United Arab Emirates, said that, in accordance with the directive, he was barred from a Beirut-bound flight.
Abu Taha was eventually barred from taking the flight and was forced to leave the airport. "I don't understand why Palestinians are called zu'ran (thugs)," he remarked.
In recent years, reports have surfaced in the Arab media about a large number of Palestinians who have begun leaving Lebanon because of the policies of discrimination and the economic restrictions imposed on them by the Lebanese authorities.
Even worse, a Lebanese newspaper last month published a cartoon likening Palestinians to the coronavirus. The cartoon, published on the anniversary of the Lebanese Civil War, was aimed at highlighting the Palestinians' role in the war that erupted in 1975 and resulted in an estimated 120,000 fatalities. Palestinians responded by pointing out that the cartoon was yet another example of Lebanon's racist mindset towards Palestinians.
Ironically, on the same day that the Lebanese authorities issued their directive, Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) reached an understanding to re-organize the entry of some 40,000 workers into Israel. PA Minister of Labor Nasri Abu Jeish said that the new understanding would be implemented on May 3. On that day, the first 14,000 Palestinian workers entered Israel and, due to the outbreak of the coronavirus epidemic, will stay inside the country for a period of at least a month.