Israel and Palestinian Authority join forces to combat coronavirus

By March 19 2020, 17:34 Latest News No Comments

coronavirusA senior Palestinian official has confirmed this week that Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) have tightened coordination over the past few weeks to contain the spread of coronavirus.

Israeli and Palestinian officials have long worked together on security and civil matters but have now set up a special mechanism in order to communicate “moment by moment” on all matters related to the virus. In additional steps, Israel has provided the PA with hundreds of coronavirus test kits, and specialist protective equipment for Palestinian health workers. Israeli and Palestinian medical professionals are also participating in joint learning workshops to combat the pandemic.

On Wednesday, President Reuven Rivlin announced that he had spoken to PA President Mahmoud Abbas and told him that cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians was “vital to ensure the health” of both peoples.

Rivlin also told his Palestinian counterpart that “our ability to work together in times of crisis is also testament to our ability to work together in the future for the good of us all”.

“The virus knows no borders and can infect everyone” a Palestinian official told the Times of Israel on Wednesday.

The Palestinian official also confirmed that this communication mechanism has been successful in working through a number of issues, including how to deal with Palestinians who work in Israel.

Defence Minister Naftali Bennett’s office announced on Tuesday that Palestinians working in “essential sectors” in Israel can spend the coming one to two months in the country, with their employers finding them a place to stay.

The mechanism will help to organise further meetings between Israeli and Palestinian authorities, as and when they are needed.

Yotam Shefer, the head of the international department at The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the body responsible for liaising with the Palestinians, also confirmed that coordination between Israel and Palestinians was “very tight and strong”. He emphasised that “the health of all citizens in the region stands above all and is our top priority”.

Shefer confirmed that Israel has given the Palestinians 400 kits to test for the virus, 500 sets of protective gear for medical professionals and additional security forces. Israeli and Palestinian medical professionals have participated in joint professional workshops and online tutorials about combating the virus.

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