- Title: Bethlehem nearly deserted after Palestinians declare coronavirus emergency
- Date: 6th March 2020
- Summary: BETHLEHEM, WEST BANK (MARCH 6, 2020) (REUTERS) CHECKPOINT INSIDE BETHLEHEM TO JERUSALEM CLOSED, BUS STOPPED AT SIDE OF ROAD VIEW OF CLOSED CHECKPOINT BUS REVERSING ISRAELI WATCH TOWER RED LIGHT SHOWN ON DOOR INSIDE CHECKPOINT CLOSED CHECKPOINT SIGN READING (Arabic): "INSPECTION PATHS." CLOSED CHECKPOINT (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) PALESTINIAN WHO WORKS IN RESTAURANT IN JERUSALEM, OSAMA BADAAH, SAYING: "Every day I leave to Jerusalem where I work, and every day I leave from this checkpoint to my job. Today I left at seven and the soldier told me that I cannot leave, he asked what type of I.D. I carry and I told him that I am from Bethlehem so he told me that I cannot pass because I am from Bethlehem, and there is a ban." TAXIS PARKED NEAR CLOSED CHECKPOINT VIEW OF CLOSED CHECKPOINT ENTRANCE CLOSED CHECKPOINT GATE JERUSALEM (MARCH 6, 2020) (REUTERS) SIGN READING (Hebrew, Arabic, English): "BETHLEHEM." VARIOUS OF CLOSED CHECKPOINT FROM JERUSALEM TO BETHLEHEM SIGN READING (Hebrew, Arabic, English):" ENTRANCE TO PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY TERRITORIES NO PASSAGE FOR ISRAELI CITIZENS." ISRAELI BORDER POLICE WEARING MASK AND CLOSING CHECKPOINT GATE ISRAELI BORDER POLICE WALKING INSIDE CHECKPOINT AREA BEIT JALA, WEST BANK (MARCH 6, 2020) (REUTERS) BUSSES STOPPED AT CHECKPOINT BUSSES STOPPED ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD VARIOUS OF TOURISTS STANDING ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD (SOUNDBITE) (English) TOURIST FROM ENGLAND, DAVID WILES, SAYING: "Yes, I understand there is anxiety in all parts of the world. No one knows what to do about it. Can they, they want to check, of course they want to check. Whether they can actually check, realistically, whether they can tell who is ill and who is not ill. Of course, they want to check but whether they can actually do it, I don't know what checks they are going to do. Nobody knows how to check for this disease that's the problem." VARIOUS OF TOURISTS STANDING NEAR BUSES VARIOUS OF BUSES STOPPED AT CHECKPOINT
- Embargoed: 20th March 2020 09:20
- Keywords: Bethlehem Palestinian territories Palestinians coronavirus epidemic shutdown virus
- Location: BETHLEHEM, BEIT JALA, WEST BANK/ JERUSALEM
- City: BETHLEHEM, BEIT JALA, WEST BANK/ JERUSALEM
- Country: Palestinian Territories
- Topics: Health/Medicine
- Reuters ID: LVA001C3WY9FR
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Revered as the birthplace of Jesus, the Palestinian town of Bethlehem is usually packed with pilgrims. But on Friday (March 6), only a handful of tourists wandered the near-empty streets after a state of emergency was declared over coronavirus.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced the 30-day state of emergency on Thursday following the discovery of seven cases of coronavirus in Bethlehem, closing schools, colleges and kindergartens and cancelling foreign tourist reservations.
The main gateway from Jerusalem to Bethlehem remained shut and tourist buses were turned away and the Church of the Nativity was closed.
The emergency measures were a particular blow to Bethlehem, where businesses depend largely on visitors to the church, built on the site where Christians believe Jesus was born.
In other parts of the occupied West Bank, Palestinian officials manned checkpoints and some foreigners were banned entry.
The Palestinian Authority exercises limited self-rule in the Israeli-occupied West Bank under interim peace accords with neighbouring Israel. Fifteen people have been diagnosed with the virus in Israel.
No coronavirus cases have been reported in Gaza, which is ruled by the Islamist group Hamas. Nonetheless, the U.N. agency which aids Palestinian refugees said it would close its 274 schools in the enclave on Saturday to assess the situation.
(Production: Sinan abu Mayzer, Mustafa abu Ganeyeh, Mohammad abu Ganeyeh, Suheir Sheikh)
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