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March 8, 2020 7:38 pm

Israeli Ministry of Defense Provides Training, Coronavirus Testing Kits to Help Palestinian Authority Contain Outbreak

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

A man in a protective suit walks outside Angel Hotel where, according to a Palestinian government official, a group of American visitors have been quarantined as part of precautions against the coronavirus, in the town of Beit Jala in the West Bank, March 7, 2020. Photo: REUTERS/Mussa Qawasma.

The Israeli Ministry of Defense’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) unit, which deals with civilian activities in the West Bank, including coordination with the Palestinian Authority, has announced that it is working with the PA to contain the coronavirus outbreak in Palestinian controlled areas.

Hundreds of coronavirus testing kits have been transferred to the PA by Israel, and Israeli and Palestinian medical personnel are training together to deal with the virus and its repercussions, COGAT said in a statement.

Israeli Health Ministry guidelines on preventing and treating the virus have also been issued by COGAT in Arabic.

“Bacteria and viruses do not stop at the border, and the spread of the dangerous virus in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] can also jeopardize the health of the residents of Israel,” said Civil Administration Health Coordinator Dalia Basa.

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“COGAT and the Ministry of Health will continue working to help the Palestinian authorities curb the spread of the virus in the territories, both as an Israeli interest and for humanitarian reasons,” she added.

“We will expand medical training to Palestinian personnel as much as possible,” Basa said, “as well as the transfer of medical equipment to the Palestinian healthcare system.”

According to Reuters, last Thursday seven coronavirus cases were discovered in Bethlehem. The victims were hotel workers who are believed to have caught the virus from tourists.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas ordered a 30-day closure of schools and colleges, as well as cancellations of foreign tourist reservations.

In addition, 30 mosques were closed by religious authorities, major events such as conferences were cancelled, and national parks were shuttered.

Palestinian security forces are manning checkpoints throughout the West Bank and are reportedly blocking entry to foreigners.

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