Israeli, Palestinian Officials Discuss Joint Efforts to Counter Coronavirus

In an unusual meeting, both sides share information gathered so far about spread of the global pandemic and coordinate stances about future steps to deal with the illness

Noa Landau
Noa Landau
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A man wearing a mask as a precaution against coronavirus at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem in the West Bank, March 5, 2020.
A man wearing a mask as a precaution against coronavirus at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem in the West Bank, March 5, 2020. Credit: AFP
Noa Landau
Noa Landau

In a rare move, Israeli and Palestinian Authority officials met Thursday to coordinate joint efforts to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, known as COVID-19.

Director of the National Security Council for Counter-Terrorism, Public Security and the Home Front, Yigal Slovik, as well as officials from Israel's Health Ministry and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories at the Defense Ministry (COGAT) represented Israel in the meeting.

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Both sides shared information that has been gathered so far about the spread of the global pandemic and coordinated stances about future steps to deal with the disease. In addition, the PA and Israeli officials decided to cooperate on epidemiologic investigations, particularly those involving tourists who visited both Israel and the PA-controlled West Bank.

On Wednesday, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon discussed the matter with Palestinian Civil Affairs Minister Hussein Al-Sheikh.

COGAT head Kamil Abu Rokon said that in recent days 250 coronavirus detection kits were transferred from Israel to the Palestinian Authority.

The Civil Administration health coordinator, Dalia Bassa, said that "Germs and viruses don’t respect borders. Led by an Israeli interest and humanitarian concern, we'll continue investing efforts to help the PA to eradicate the spread of the coronavirus in the territories."

Earlier on Thursday, the Palestinian Authority barred foreign tourists from visiting the West Bank after four suspected cases of the coronavirus were found in Bethlehem.

The two-week restriction, announced by the Palestinian Tourism Ministry, goes into effect on Friday.

In addition, the Health Ministry said several Greek tourists who visited Israel and the West Bank on February 19 through 27 have tested positive for coronavirus upon their return to Greece. Israeli authorities are now working with the Palestinian Authority to produce an epidemiology report.

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