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Palestine calls on Israel to restrict travel to West Bank as virus numbers spike

July 6, 2020 at 2:33 pm

Palestinian men stand in wait near the Ibrahimi mosque, also known as the Tomb of the Patriarchs, in the flashpoint city of Hebron in the occupied West Bank early on May 26, 2020 [HAZEM BADER/AFP via Getty Images]

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh has urged Israel to close all crossings into the occupied West Bank to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The move comes as the Palestinian territories saw a surge in virus infections in recent days.

According to Wafa news agency, Shtayyeh stated that the lack of Palestinian control over crossings and borders coupled with the Israeli occupation authorities’ “racist” measures obstructing the Palestinian government’s efforts to fight the spread of the coronavirus were the main reason for the increase in infections.

“We will send a request to the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation (UNTSO) to monitor the situation at the 1967 borders,” said Shtayyeh during the weekly meeting of the PA cabinet in Ramallah.

The appeal came after the Palestinian Health Minister Mai Al-Kaileh confirmed 64 new coronavirus cases this morning, raising the total number of infections in the occupied territories to 4,786.

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Among the 4,786 cases, 4,339 are in the West Bank, 72 in the Gaza Strip and 447 in East Jerusalem.

He revealed that 82 per cent of the new coronavirus cases were the result of gatherings at weddings and funerals, while 18 per cent came from Palestinians working in Israel and others traveling between the occupied West Bank and Israel.

Moreover, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas yesterday extended a state of emergency in the territory for 30 days, a measure that allows officials to impose additional virus restrictions, including extending lockdowns, banning movement between cities and deploying security forces.

Israel is currently reporting around 1,000 new cases a day, higher than its peak during the previous wave. The government today approved a series of new restrictions which will come into effect immediately, including the closure of clubs, bars, cultural shows and gyms. While attendance at synagogues will be capped at 19 people.