Israelis, Palestinians unite to fight coronavirus

"Bacteria and viruses do not stop at the border."

Palestinians wait to cross through Israeli Kalandiya checkpoint (photo credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS)
Palestinians wait to cross through Israeli Kalandiya checkpoint
(photo credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS)
As COVID-19 continues to spread across Israel and the Palestinian territories, the IDF and the Palestinian Authority have launched a joint effort to stop its spreading and prevent a massive outbreak, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) Spokesperson's Office reported on Thursday.

According to the report, 250 COVID-19 testing kits were delivered to the Palestinian Authority at the instruction of COGAT health coordinator Dalia Bassa. Joint training sessions for Israeli and Palestinian medical staff were set up to provide information on personal protection while handling a person thought to carry the virus.

COGAT also provided the Palestinian public in the PA-ruled West Bank and the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip with an Arabic translation of the Health Ministry's instructions on self-quarantine, designed to prevent a massive outbreak of the disease.The digital instructions were made accessible on various online platforms.   

A possible scenario feared by Palestinians is an outbreak of the virus in the Gaza Strip. Home to roughly two million residents, the strip of land is controlled by Hamas militants. Gaza's health crisis may make such an outbreak deadly and put in direct danger millions of people on both sides of the border.

"Bacteria and viruses do not stop at the border, and a spreading of this dangerous virus across the West Bank could endanger the lives of the residents of the State of Israel," said Bassa. "COGAT and the Health Ministry will continue assisting the Palestinian authorities to halt the spreading of the virus." 
 Palestinian medical staff undergo COGAT-instructed COVID-19 protection training (Photo credit: COGAT) Palestinian medical staff undergo COGAT-instructed COVID-19 protection training (Photo credit: COGAT)

Bassa added that, if needed, COGAT will "expand the medical training for the Palestinian staff as well as medical equipment delivery to the Palestinian healthcare system."

After hotel employees from Bethlehem were infected with COVID-19 after coming into contact with Greek visitors who had the virus, the IDF, along with Palestinian security forces, isolated the city, populated by nearly 30,000 residents. 

Since Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared a national emergency after 16 residents were diagnosed as carriers of the virus, approximately 3,000 tourists have found themselves in quarantine at various hotels in Bethlehem, including fourteen American tourists. 

In Israel, the overall number of confirmed cases stands at 21 as of Friday night. One of those infected, a bus driver from east Jerusalem, has seen a worsening of his symptoms. The man, who has been hospitalized in the Poria Medical Center in the North, was placed in a medically induced coma after developing symptoms of coronavirus pneumonia.