The West Bank is shut down for five days due to an increase in the number of cases of people infected with Covid-19, the Palestinian government announced on Wednesday. Demonstrations have also taken place in several Palestinian cities against the US plan for the Middle East, which stipulates that Israel belongs to territories on the occupied West Bank.
“As of Friday morning, all West Bank governors, towns and villages will be closed for a period of five days,” Palestinian Government spokesman Ibrahim Melhem announced Wednesday (July 1). During the press conference, he said that pharmacies, bakeries and supermarkets would remain open.
The number of Covid-19 cases more than doubled in one week at the West Bank to a total of 2,636 on Wednesday, compared with 1,256 a week earlier.
Authorities already ordered last week to temporarily shut down the cities of Nablus (north), Hebron and Bethlehem (south) to help stop the spread of the virus. At the beginning of June, they renewed their health status for 30 days shortly after the two months’ imprisonment was imposed on the West Bank, which was introduced after the onset of the first cases on March 5.
>> See: Appendix to the West Bank: “In priority, the decision should be made in the coming days”
Health Minister Mai al-Kaila said the rise in the number of cases was partly due to shifts between the West Bank and Israel, which also saw an increase in the number of cases after relatively well-controlled pandemics.
Tens of thousands of Palestinians on the West Bank work in Israel, and Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh urged Palestinians living in Israel to refrain from traveling to the West Bank and Palestinians working in Israel not to travel for 14 days.
On the Israeli side, the number of pollution cases jumped by about 15% over the past week to exceed 25,500 on Wednesday, according to official government data.
“Palestinian life plays a role”
Thousands of Palestinians also demonstrated on Wednesday in Gaza City against the US plan for the Middle East, which stipulates that Israel should annex territories on the occupied West Bank.
The Israeli government should in principle decide from Wednesday on the implementation of the plan, which also provides for the creation of a demilitarized Palestinian state on a fragmented territory and without East Jerusalem as its capital.
In Gaza, a Palestinian enclave about 50 kilometers from the occupied West Bank, thousands of people shouted slogans at the US project during a meeting attended by Yahya Sinouar, one of the leaders of the ruling Hamas movement in this territory.
>> See: The West Bank: decipher the project to connect Israel
The protesters held up Palestinian flags and placards that read “No to annexation” and “Palestinian lives matter,” citing the anti-racism movement “Black Lives Matter” United States Party.
On Wednesday morning, Hamas launched about 20 test rockets in the Mediterranean as a warning, sources in the Islamist movement, involved in three wars with Israel since 2008, told AFP.
The Hebrew state has imposed a strict blockade on the Gaza Strip for more than ten years to, he says, contain the armed movement.
A project that spreads the “two-state solution”
A demonstration against the annexation project also took place in Jericho, the largest Palestinian city in the Jordan Valley, where former Israeli deputies and ministers joined dozens of Palestinians.
“We want to confirm our support for peace,” said former Interior Minister Ophir Pines-Paz. “Netanyahu and his annexation project must be stopped”.
>> Read: Appendix of territories on the West Bank: Palestinians’ plan to revive Israel
Another demonstration is planned for the end of the day in Ramallah, the site of the Palestinian Authority.
The Palestinians are trying to get support for the Israeli plan they say is spreading the “two-state solution”, a viable Palestine with Israel. They say they are ready to resume direct negotiations with the Israelis, but not on the basis of the Trump plan.
“We will not sit at a negotiating table where the annexation or the Trump plan is proposed because it is not a peace plan, but a project to legitimize the occupation,” said Palestinian negotiator Saëb Erakat.