West Bank, Gaza Eye Return to Normal After Two Days Without New Coronavirus Cases

There are no longer COVID-19 patients in intensive care or on ventilators in either area

Jack Khoury
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A Palestinian supermarket in the West Bank town of Hebron.
A Palestinian supermarket in the West Bank town of Hebron, April 2020.Credit: AFP
Jack Khoury

The Palestinian Authority is preparing for a gradual return to normal in the West Bank after no new patients were diagnosed with COVID-19 over the past two days in the territory that it governs there or in the Gaza Strip, which is under the control of Hamas. The Palestinian Authority is also considering how to address the economic crisis that the coronavirus outbreak has caused.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh announced on Monday that no Palestinian coronavirus patients were in intensive care or on ventilators in the West Bank or Gaza and that there were 495 Palestinian coronavirus patients in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and in Israeli-governed East Jerusalem.

Of that total, 295 of the patients are from the Jerusalem area and 17 in Gaza. Dozens of Palestinians have recovered from the disease in the West Bank, although there have been cases of patients who have become ill with the virus again, Shtayyeh added.

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Israel’s single-use coalition will serve Trump and protect BibiCredit: Haaretz

Palestinian Authority government offices, including the land authority and water authority, are due to gradually return to work at the beginning of next week, and factories and workshops will be allowed to operate at 50 percent of normal levels, the prime minister said.

Schools are not yet resuming classes, but food and candy stores are allowed to remain open until the evening during the current holy month of Ramadan, when observant Muslims fast during daylight hours. Restaurants and cafes, which are usually packed in the evening during Ramadan fast, are still closed, as are mosques and other houses of worship.

Shtayyeh pegged the Palestinian Authority’s budget deficit at 1.4 billion shekels ($398 million) and said 11,000 additional families have joined the ranks this month of those requiring government support. The PA predicted that another 9,000 families would be added to the rolls of those receiving assistance next month. The Palestinian Authority also supports many needy families in the Gaza Strip as well, Shtayyeh noted.

A member of Islamic Jihad distributes water in the Gaza Strip.
A member of Islamic Jihad distributes water in the Gaza Strip during the Ramadan fast month, April 2020.Credit: AFP

The Health Ministry in Gaza announced on Monday that 10 patients have recovered from the coronavirus and that the number of those currently infected had fallen to seven. There are also 1,998 Gazans in medical isolation, the great majority of whom recently returned to Gaza.

On Sunday, Gaza’s hotel and restaurant association announced a gradual reopening of restaurants and cafes for Ramadan, but only for orders to be delivered.

Health Ministry officials in Gaza said it is still too early to return to a full normal routine and stores would remain closed from evening to morning to prevent people from congregating, a policy that would be strictly enforced.

“We are in a situation of uncertainty. There may be talk of easing restrictions, but in practice, this is still not happening,” a member of the Hamas leadership told Haaretz.