The Biblical city of Bethlehem has been closed down following an announcement by Israel’s Defense Minister Naftali Bennett on Thursday. The decision was made in a coordinated effort between the IDF and Palestinian Authority (PA) amidst concerns of the coronavirus outbreak. Both Israelis and Arabs will be restricted from both entering and exiting the city.
Palestinian Health Minister Mai Al-Kaileh said in a press conference that seven Palestinians tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
“The seven Palestinians are under quarantine,” she said.
Under the emergency measures that will apply to all areas under PA supervision, all education facilities will remain closed and tourists will be banned from visiting the PA areas in Judea and Samaria. The closure will remain in effect until further notice.
The Church of Nativity and other holy sites will be closed for at least two weeks.
PA President Abbas also declared a ‘state of emergency’ in Arab occupied areas of Judea and Samaria for 30 days when the seven coronavirus cases were confirmed in Bethlehem.
It is feared that the outbreak will affect the Easter season, a vital source of tourist income for the city that will begin a few weeks.