Israel limits Palestinian workers into Israel to vital sectors

Only Palestinian Arab workers involved in vital sectors of the economy will be permitted entry.

By Josh Plank, World Israel News

In an effort to stop the spread of coronavirus, Defense Minister Naftali Bennett on Monday night announced further restrictions on workers from the Palestinian Authority (PA).

The steps were approved by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and made in coordination with multiple government agencies, Arutz 7 reports.

Beginning Wednesday, only Palestinian Arab workers involved in vital sectors of the economy will be permitted entry.

These sectors include health, agriculture, nursing, and construction with the possibility of additional sectors being added according to the specific need of the Ministry of Defense and the National Emergency Management Authority.

Workers meeting these criteria will also need security clearance from Shin Bet, the Israel Security Agency.

Israeli employers will be responsible for hosting approved workers for a period of one to two months.

Israelis will also be prohibited from entering PA-assigned areas. Exceptions may be granted in unusual circumstances and on an individual basis.

Despite the new restrictions on workers, the passage of goods is to continue as usual.

The Gaza Strip will remain closed, but goods will continue to pass into the area through the Kerem Shalom crossing.

The Bethlehem area will also remain closed. Both Israelis and Palestinian Arabs have been restricted from entering and leaving the city since March 5.

At that time, PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas declared a 30-day state of emergency after seven hotel workers tested positive for coronavirus in Bethlehem.

Greek tourists who stayed at a hotel in late February are suspected of spreading the virus to the hotel staff. The tourists tested positive after returning to Greece.

As of Monday, 39 confirmed cases have been reported in PA-administered areas of Judea and Samaria, while there have been no confirmed cases in Gaza.

The Israeli Ministry of Health announced this morning that the number of Israelis confirmed to have the illness has risen to 304.