The Israeli interior minister announced that border crossings between Israel and Jordan and Egypt are being closed to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
“In the wake of the uncertainty and as part of the joint effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, I must close the land crossings until the issue would be clarified,” said Aryeh Deri in the statement.
The temporary measure will remain in effect until Sunday, added Deri.
Kamil Abu Rukun, an official from the Defence Ministry, said the Allenby Bridge will be closed this afternoon “until further notice”, which was decided “in coordination with Jordan and the Palestinian Authority.” The bridge connects the West Bank with the Hashemite Kingdom and is the sole designated exit and entry point for West Bank Palestinians travelling into and out of the Israeli occupied territories.
This comes after Israel banned passenger flights in and out of the country from Monday evening for a week as it seeks to stop the spread of new coronavirus variants.
According to the Times of Israel, the number of active cases of the virus have risen in recent days from below 70,000 earlier this week to 75,920 yesterday.
The country’s borders have largely been closed to foreigners during the pandemic, with only Israeli passport holders allowed entry.
Israel has the world’s fastest vaccine distribution rate. With regular imports of Pfizer Inc. vaccines, it has administered at least one dose to more than 25 per cent of its nine million population since 19 December, the Health Ministry says.
The country has been under a third national lockdown since 27 December, which it plans to lift at the end of January. Critics say the government has mishandled the crisis, lacking a clear long-term strategy and allowing politics to cloud its decisions.
Authorities have also come under criticism from rights groups who have called on it to comply with its duties under international law and provide vaccines to the Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza Strip which are living under Israeli occupation.