Palestinians caught smuggling workers from Israel into the occupied West Bank will be held legally accountable, the Palestinian Authority (PA) Ministry of Labour warned.
According to the Jerusalem Post, several Palestinians who were caught attempting to smuggle workers from Israel in their vehicles were arrested by the PA security forces over the past few days.
Ibrahim Ramadan, the PA governor of Nablus, expressed concern over the incidents of smuggling workers from Israel into the occupied West Bank.
“Some workers are trying to avoid being tested for the virus or forced into isolation, and this is a big problem,” Ramadan said. “They are endangering their lives and those of their families.”
For weeks, Palestinian officials have issued warnings that workers travelling back and forth between Israel, its settlements and their homes could fuel a larger outbreak of COVID-19.
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh warned on Friday that the next two weeks would be critical with regard to the virus’ spread, as thousands of Palestinian workers are expected to return to their homes before the start of the Jewish Holiday of Passover.
The PA fears that some of the workers may have contracted the disease during their stay in Israel, and it will therefore isolate or quarantine workers returning from Israel for 14 days, and has set aside some hotels and other locations as quarantine sites, Haaretz reported.
PA Health Minister Mai Kaila said the number of people infected in the occupied West Bank has increased to 247 today.
The PA said all workers who return from Israel will be forced to take an initial health test by the Palestinian security services and medical staff waiting for them at the Israeli checkpoints, and if there are early symptoms they will be sent for a coronavirus test.