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PA PM: PA and Israel have a joint Coronavirus medical committee; Israel must release prisoners

Text of video posted on the Facebook page of PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh, the video shows a speech by Shtayyeh on the Coronavirus pandemic

PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh: “In the name of All Merciful Allah, and based on the order issued by His Honor [PA] President [Mahmoud Abbas] today, April 3, 2020, in which His Honor the president ordered to extend the activity in an emergency framework for a period of 30 days in the territory of the State of Palestine, we hereby announce the following:

  1. The continued closure of all the educational institutions including kindergartens, schools, colleges, universities, and the like.
  2. The continued closure of all the crossings of the State of Palestine.
  3. Movement between the districts, villages, refugee camps, and main cities will be stopped, and home quarantine will continue while taking matters with the utmost seriousness. This is in accordance with the regulations previously announced in every city and community…

The coming two weeks will be among the most difficult in terms of controlling the spread of the disease, and the reason for this is the return of 45,000 Palestinian laborers to their homes from their workplaces in Israel with the start of the Passover holiday for the Jews. Some of these laborers have permits and they cross [into the PA areas] in an organized manner, and the rest work without permits and they cross in different ways. We are trying to make the utmost efforts to organize the laborers’ return with the Israeli side so that it will be done in an organized manner, and so that we will be able to implement the appropriate health measures. We hope that Israel will agree to this, because this virus is the enemy of all humanity, and it does not recognize borders, gender, or religion. We have also asked Israel to check the laborers before their arrival, and we have asked it to compensate the laborers for the days of their absence.Most of the new infections in the last week were from the laborers, and from one factory with 500 laborers in it more than 41 cases have been recorded so far, which raises the number of infected to 193.

I ask all of the laborers to stay in their homes for 14 days as part of the home quarantine in order to protect themselves, their children, their parents, their neighbors, and their society. This quarantine is not voluntary, but rather mandatory. I say to the contractors and the smugglers that they are subject to the law, and whoever transgresses this – the law is clear. Our capabilities today are a lot better than in the past, and our preparedness is better. There are quarantine and treatment sites in every district, and Allah willing all of the cases [of infection] among us are stable. There are only two people who were in intensive care and they left it yesterday [April 2, 2020], which is a relief…

We are in contact with all of the bodies of the international community, and particularly the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Labor Organization (ILO), the friends of Palestine including international donors and organizations, andwe have a joint medical committee with the Israeli side that is regularly monitoring the events. The world has praised the steps that were taken by the [PA] Ministry of Health, the [PA] government, and His Honor the president. The Israeli Ministry of Health apologized today for unofficial statements that were made by it in a phone conversation with Palestinian [PA] Minister of Health [Mai Al-Kaila]…

Israel must fulfill its role as the occupying power both towards the laborers and towards our people in Jerusalem – it should not arrest [PA] Minister of Jerusalem [Affairs Fadi Al-Hadmi] (arrested April 3, 2020, for violating the Israeli ban on PA political activity in Jerusalem –Ed.), or Jerusalem District Governor [Adnan Ghaith] (arrested April 5, 2020, for violating the same ban –Ed.), or the Fatah organization director in the city, or any of the other national figures who are working earnestly in order to help our people there. The prisoners are detained against their will, and as much as we can we repeat the demand to release them, and particularly the elderly, the sick, the women, and the children.”