COVID-19 Badly Affects Livelihood of Palestinian Workers in Israel

A number of Palestinian workers in the West Bank are faced with difficult choices due to the COVID-19 positive cases in the West Bank. They can no longer cross the border after Israel closed the checkpoints.

The Indonesian clinic in Gaza will also provide medical counseling about COVID-19. (ACTNews)

ACTNews, WEST BANK, GAZA - Kareem (51) and hundreds of other Palestinian workers in Israel must accept being sent back home by Israeli authority as they tried to cross through the checkpoint, as reported by Middle East Eye, Wednesday (3/18). Kareem, a construction worker from Bethlehem, was not allowed to enter by Israeli authorities after the confirmed COVID-19 cases in West Bank.

I decided to try and cross anyways, hoping that they would make exceptions for the workers,” he to Middle East Eye. The spread of the coronavirus in both Israel and the West Bank has had a profound impact on the Palestinian workforce in Israel - with the latest restrictions forcing Palestinian workers to choose between months-long separation from their families - or financial ruin.

Still according to Middle East Eye, Kareem had seen reports saying that Israel had closed Checkpoint 300, the main point of entry to Israel for thousands of Palestinian workers from the entire southern West Bank. 

Also read: Palestinian Authority declared Emergency Covid-19

The residents of Bethlehem retreated to their homes in anticipation for what would happen next following reports of positive COVID-19 cases. The first COVID-19 case outside Bethlehem was confirmed last week in the northern district of Tulkarem. The patient was a laborer who works in Israel. As the virus continued to spread across Israel and the West Bank, both Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) began placing more and more restrictions on movement inside and between the territories.  At present 39 cases of Covid-19 are reported in the West Bank.

“We hoped that it would only be a temporary thing until they figured out a way to let the Bethlehem workers in,” Kareem said, “but it’s looking like it will be a much longer-lasting problem.”

There has not been any COVID-19 case in Gaza, as reported by Al Jazeera. Gaza is home to two million residents. Covid-19 is feared to spread rapidly in Gaza. On the other hand, Israel and Egypt have closed the border and only allowed emergency travel.

WHO Director for Gaza Abdul Nasser Soboh told Al Jazeera that Gaza needs planning if it later encounters many cases of the corona virus given that health facilities in Gaza are currently inadequate.

Andi Noor Faradiba from the Global Humanity Response (GHR) – Aksi Cepat Tanggap team said, in Gaza, the Indonesian clinic also provides counseling related to COVID-19 to patients. "The Indonesian Clinic continues to operate and serve the injured. As for the COVID-19, medics at the Indonesian Medical Clinic also provides counseling to the people of Gaza," explained Faradiba. []