By Joel C. Rosenberg
At 10:39 pm local time Thursday, an aide to Saeb Erekat tweeted in Arabic via Erekat’s account that the senior Palestinian Authority official “has been infected with the coronavirus.”
The aide noted Erekat, 65, was “canceling all his appointments until his complete recovery.”
The message was then Tweeted out in English moments later.
Erekat, who lives in the city of Jericho in the West Bank, serves as the Secretary of the Executive Committee of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and as the chief negotiator for the Palestinian Authority.
He is one of the most trusted advisors to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Messages offering well-wishes and prayers started pouring in from around the world.
Israeli diplomatic reporter Barak Ravid tweeted out the news at 11:07pm, noting that Erekat “had a lung transplant several years ago and he is under increased risk for COVID-19.”
When I saw the news at 1:51 a.m. Friday, I retweeted Ravid’s message and added, “Please join me in praying for @ErakatSaeb to be healed quickly and completely. #LoveYourNeighbor.”
Almost immediately, the Erekat account “liked” my Tweet.
That may have been somewhat unexpected since I am an Israeli, Jewish and an Evangelical.
But I sincerely ask Evangelicals here in the region and around the world to pray daily and faithfully for the Lord to show mercy and kindness to Erekat and his family, to give him a full and speedy recovery, and for his comfort in the meantime.
Followers of Jesus know that our Lord performed several miracles in the city of Jericho, one of the oldest cities in the world.
One of the most famous accounts is found in Luke 18:35-43.
“As Jesus drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. And hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what this meant. They told him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.’ And he cried out, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Jesus stopped. ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ The blind beggar said, ‘Lord, let me recover my sight.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Recover your sight; your faith has made you well.’ And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.
Exactly three years ago, in October 2017, Erekat received a lung transplant in the United States.
The operation was performed at a hospital in northern Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C.
Erekat has a condition known as “pulmonary fibrosis.”
According to experts at the Mayo Clinic, “pulmonary fibrosis is a lung disease that occurs when lung tissue becomes damaged and scarred. This thickened, stiff tissue makes it more difficult for your lungs to work properly. As pulmonary fibrosis worsens, you become progressively more short of breath.”