Palestinians arrest 20 preachers for violating ban on Friday prayers

Defying a corona-related ban instituted by the Palestinian Authority, preachers gathered worshipers on Friday for communal prayers.

By World Israel News Staff

In Judea and Samaria, Palestinian security forces arrested 20 Muslim preachers on Friday for violating a ban on Friday prayers, Palestinian media reported.

The Palestinian Authority (P.A.) closed mosques and barred all group prayers.

To date, the P.A. reported 52 confirmed coronavirus cases, including 17 who recovered.

On Friday, Israel suffered its first fatality related to the deadly coronavirus, an 88-year-old man who passed away at Jerusalem’s Shaare Tzedek hospital. The man had been in critical condition for about a week, and suffered from preexisting conditions.

In an effort to stop the spread of the virus, P.A. officials shut popular Bethlehem tourist sites on March 6, reportedly because tourists from around the world were infecting hotel workers and other individuals involved in the tourism industry.

Israel has extended aid to the P.A. to fight the virus in Arab-controlled areas of Judea and Samaria with the assistance of the Unit for the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT).

Specifically, Israel has provided the P.A. with test kits, professional assistance, and joint training sessions, in addition to other forms of support and assistance.

“Bacteria and viruses do not stop at the border, and the spread of the dangerous virus in [the P.A.] can also jeopardize the health of the residents of Israel,” said Dalia Basa, Health Coordinator for COGAT, in a recent statement.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.