Israelis, Palestinians unite to fight coronavirus

The coronavirus has accomplished something that decades of negotiations have been unable to: Israelis and Palestinians are working together to prevent a massive outbreak of the virus on both sides.

Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) said that 250 COVID-19 testing kits were delivered to the Palestinian Authority and joint training sessions for Israeli and Palestinian medical staff were being scheduled.

“There are no borders here,” Palestinian Brig. Gen. Ghassan Alian said. “There is no ‘them’ and ‘us.’… People in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] live together.” 

Israel’s COGAT health coordinator agreed.

“Bacteria and viruses do not stop at the border, and the spread of the dangerous virus in Judea and Samaria can also jeopardize the health of the residents of Israel,” Dalia Bassa said. “COGAT and the Health Ministry will continue assisting the Palestinian authorities to halt the spreading of the virus.” 

COGAT provided Israel’s Ministry of Health instructions on prevention and self-quarantine in Arabic for the Palestinian public.

While the virus has not reached the Gaza Strip, the city of Bethlehem and its surroundings are under lockdown after hotel employees there were infected with coronavirus since coming into contact with Greek tourists who tested positive.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared a national emergency after the diagnosis and some 3,000 tourists have been quarantined at various hotels in Bethlehem, including 14 American Christians who were isolated on one floor of a hotel there awaiting results as to whether they were infected — and clearance to return to the United States. 

Chris Bell, pastor of 3Circle Church in Alabama, said the group would meet each morning — with masks on — to pray together.

“We are people of faith. And we do not believe this is an accident,” Bell said. “We know that our God knows exactly where we are. And he has a plan for this and that he is going to sustain us, and he’s going to be faithful to us. And we just want to represent him well while we’re walking through us.”

“We know there’s a lot of people hurting,” Bell said. “So we’re not just praying for ourselves. We’re praying for the hurting people of this area because we love them.”

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