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Israel, Palestinians Tighten Coronavirus Restrictions amid New Spikes

Amid spikes in outbreaks of the coronavirus, Israel and the Palestinian Authority are both tightening restrictions in an attempt to bring a halt to the upward spiral. While only a few weeks ago Israeli officials seemingly believed they had turned the corner in the war against the deadly bug, back-to-back days of record levels of new cases disabused the government of that idea, and new restrictions are being imposed on the public. The 2,700+ new cases reported this week alone are more than double the number reported during the entire month of May. Select neighborhoods of the coastal town of Ashdod and central city of Lod have been placed under total lockdown. Other specific communities are being singled out for special restrictions while Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu says he is considering the use of undercover police to enforce social-distancing regulations at event halls. On Wednesday, the Knesset passed legislation that allows the Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic security agency, to temporarily track the cellphones of coronavirus carriers. Efforts are also underway to make it permanent. Meanwhile, the PA has announced a full closure for the West Bank to be implemented on Friday for five days. The only exceptions will be pharmacies and stores selling food. Palestinians who work in Israel will not be allowed to cross for two weeks. The two West Bank hotspots – the cities of Hebron and Nablus – are being placed under total lockdown.