Children walk back to school in Gaza after five-month shutdown

Palestinian student arrive at a school run by The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza Strip on August 8, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 08 August 2020

Children walk back to school in Gaza after five-month shutdown

  • Gaza, mostly cut off from the world by an Israeli-led blockade, has not recorded any COVID-19 cases in the towns and refugee camps
  • Just 78 infections and one death have been recorded in quarantine centers

JABALIA, Gaza Strip: Hundreds of thousands of children walked through the streets of the Gaza Strip on Saturday to return to classes after five months of shutdown — though authorities said they were ready to close schools again if coronavirus cases spike.
Pupils mingled freely before heading into playgrounds for roll call and filing into classrooms. At one school in the northern Jabalia refugee camp, teachers wearing face masks welcomed children and offered to sanitise their hands.
Gaza, mostly cut off from the world by an Israeli-led blockade, has not recorded any COVID-19 cases in the towns and refugee camps where around two million Palestinians live.
Just 78 infections and one death have been recorded in quarantine centers. But, fearing any outbreak would overwhelm the health system, the territory’s Islamist Hamas-run education ministry shut down schools in March and students completed the remainder of the school year online.
“We want everyone to realize that education amid (the) corona pandemic is different, and things don’t proceed as they normally would,” said Farid Abu-Athra, an education official with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Gaza.
“So far in Gaza the situation is better, and it allows us to open schools normally,” he told Reuters.
Health workers will sanitise Gaza’s 751 schools twice a day, officials said. Children do not have to wear masks but must bring their own lunch and outdoor breaks are banned.
Plans were already in place to halt classes should the virus spread into Gaza’s densely-populated towns, Abu-Athra said.
About 40 km (25 miles) away in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, which has reported a spike in COVID-19 cases, high school classes began this week but elementary schools remain closed.
West Bank health officials have reported 94 deaths and 13,600 cases, most of them in the last two months.


Another Arab country expected to sign deal with Israel soon says US envoy

Updated 56 min 25 sec ago

Another Arab country expected to sign deal with Israel soon says US envoy

  • The US plans to bring more countries into the deal
  • Donald Trump told world leaders earlier this week that he ‘has never been more optimistic’ about the future of the Middle East.

DUBAI: Another Arab country is expected to sign a peace deal with Israel this week, US Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft told Al Arabiya on Wednesday.
The US ambassador’s comments came a week after the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed a deal with Israel to normalize ties, known as the Abraham Accords. 
Craft explained that the US planned to bring more countries into the deal. 
“We will have more being announced very soon,” Craft said, claiming that one country would be signing a deal with Israel “in the next day or two.”
“I know others are going to be following,” the senior US diplomat said. 
Donald Trump told world leaders earlier this week that he “has never been more optimistic” about the future of the Middle East.
In his address to the UN General Assembly, the US president trumpeted his foreign policy achievements, particularly in the regions.