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18 Mar, 2020 16:14

Israel closes off Palestinian-ruled areas of West Bank – officials

Israel closes off Palestinian-ruled areas of West Bank – officials

Israel closed off Palestinian-administered areas of the occupied West Bank on Wednesday to limit the spread of the coronavirus, according to officials from both sides. “From today, a closure has taken place in the West Bank,” said Yotam Shefer, who heads the international department of COGAT, the Israeli military body responsible for civilian affairs in the Palestinian territories.

The decision had been taken in conjunction with the Palestinian government, based in Ramallah. The border crossing with the Gaza Strip has been closed in recent days and will remain so, Shefer added.

Palestinian government spokesman Ibrahim Melhim said all Palestinians would be affected, though goods would still be allowed to pass. Palestinian police will establish checkpoints on the outskirts of cities.

Around 70,000 Palestinians in the West Bank work in Israel, crossing back and forth each day. They were given three days to either stay in Israel for the coming months or remain in the West Bank, and thousands crossed into Israel on Wednesday morning, AFP reported.