Palestinian laborers back working in Israel as virus slows

Palestinian laborers back working in Israel as virus slows
A health worker watches as Palestinian laborers head to work in Israel through a checkpoint near Hebron amid concerns about the spread of the coronavirus. (Reuters)
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Updated 03 May 2020

Palestinian laborers back working in Israel as virus slows

Palestinian laborers back working in Israel as virus slows
  • Some 40,000 workers allowed to cross during the course of Sunday and Monday

JERUSALEM: Thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank entered Israel to work on Sunday after weeks of absence over fears of the coronavirus, as the pandemic’s spread slowed.
An Israeli security official said that as of the morning, some 11,500 Palestinians with permits had entered Israel and settler industrial zones for work in construction, agriculture and industry only.
A spokesman for the Palestinian labor ministry said that a total of 40,000 workers had permission to cross during the course of Sunday and Monday to work in Israel for one month, mostly in construction and agriculture.
The spokesman, Rami Mehdawi, said that by agreement between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, employers must provide workers with sanitary accommodation and health insurance.
On March 25, Palestinian prime minister Mohammed Shtayyeh called on laborers in Israel to return to the West Bank as part of Palestinian efforts to prevent the spread of coronavirus from the Jewish state.
By then Israel had 2,369 cases of the virus, compared to just 62 in the Palestinian territory, and the crossings were closed by agreement between both sides, forcing laborers who wished to continue working in Israel to remain there.
Around 40,000 workers chose to do so.
The latest decision to let laborers in was reached jointly with the Palestinians and aimed at ensuring “they would not lose their jobs and would be able to continue supporting their families,” an Israeli security official said.
Those entering would not be able to return to the West Bank until Eid Al-Fitr, the Muslim holiday marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, in three weeks time.
The numbers of Israelis catching coronavirus has declined significantly, with the health ministry reporting on Sunday just 41 new cases in the past 24 hours, with 16,193 infected and 230 dead.
Some 120,000 Palestinians worked in Israel and Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank on a daily basis before the pandemic’s outbreak.


Denmark halts UAE flights for five days over COVID-19

Denmark halts UAE flights for five days over COVID-19
Updated 39 min 47 sec ago

Denmark halts UAE flights for five days over COVID-19

Denmark halts UAE flights for five days over COVID-19
  • The statement said the UAE was communicating with Danish authorities “to clarify the details and cases”

COPENHAGEN: The UAE said on Friday it was in talks with Denmark after the Nordic country temporarily halted all flights arriving from the Gulf Arab state, a major travel hub, due to potentially unreliable coronavirus tests in Dubai.

Denmark’s transport ministry said the five-day travel restrictions, comes after concerns were raised about the coronavirus tests administered in Dubai before departure. It added it had taken the decision after a detailed tip-off, without elaborating.
“All accredited UAE testing centers are regularly subject to strict quality checks,” the UAE foreign ministry said, adding there are severe penalties for non-compliance with international standards to ensure the highest level of quality in testing.
The statement said the UAE was communicating with Danish authorities “to clarify the details and cases” behind the decision in order to guarantee the safety of all travelers.
Denmark earlier this month made it mandatory for travelers to show a negative test from the previous 24 hours before departure toward Denmark from all countries.
Late on Friday, Danish Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said on Twitter 50 persons with COVID-19 had flown in from Dubai in January alone. 33 of those arrived after Denmark made it mandatory to test negative for COVID-19 before departure.
Several Danish celebrities, including former footballer Nicklas Bendtner, were criticized earlier this month after Danish media reported they had traveled to regional tourism hub Dubai on holiday despite the government advising against going abroad to limit the spread of the coronavirus.