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May 3, 2020 9:02 pm

Palestinian Workers Return to Israel for First Time Since Coronavirus Closures

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Palestinians working in Israel head to work through an Israeli checkpoint amid concerns over the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), near Hebron in the West Bank March 19, 2020. Photo: Reuters/Mussa Qawasma.

Palestinian workers entered Israel on Sunday for the first time since coronavirus closure measures were imposed.

Construction, agricultural, and industrial workers were allowed in, in coordination with their employers and the relevant authorities, Israeli news website Walla reported.

The workers will be required to stay in Israel once they enter. If they return to the West Bank they will not be allowed reentry so long as the current closure policies remain in place.

They will, however, be permitted to return to their homes for the Eid al-Fitr holiday on May 24, which marks the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Labor said it had been agreed with Israel to allow 39,000 Palestinian workers into Israel on Sunday. So far, 14,500 workers have departed for Israeli territory. More entries are expected to be allowed in the coming days, at a rate of 300 entrants per hour.

Israeli security officials said 8,500 of the workers have already entered Israel.

Arrangements have been made to provide workers with protection against infection, such as masks.

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