Palestinian Authority Imposes Partial Lockdown amid Health Crisis
The Palestinian Authority has ordered a limited lockdown on the West Bank town of Beit Sahour after three residents tested positive for coronavirus. A PA spokesman said the three had been in home quarantine, although one violated regulations by leaving. Beit Sahour is located near Bethlehem, the epicenter of the outbreak in the Palestinian territories. As of Tuesday night, the West Bank had 44 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with over 90% of them concentrated in the Bethlehem area. On Tuesday, PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh announced that all movement between the West Bank and Israel would be cut off by the end of the business week. This came after Israeli authorities severely curtailed the ability of an estimated 60,000-plus Palestinian workers to enter the country. Only those employed in “essential sectors” such as healthcare, agriculture and construction will be allowed in – and they will be required to remain within Israel’s borders for a period of one to two months. In early March, PA President Mahmoud Abbas declared a 30-day state of emergency in the West Bank and has since imposed regulations that shuttered most public spaces – including schools and holy sites – restricted travel and banned large public gatherings. At 85 years old and with a history of health problems, Abbas is currently not accepting visitors and has limited his entourage to a small group of close confidants.