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Lockdown in West Bank

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    April 9, 2020 5:49 AM EDT


    GAZA/WEST BANK (Reuters) - Political and physical divisions between Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have induced two very different responses to the coronavirus pandemic, with a strict lockdown in the first and crowds milling about freely in the second.

    In the Israeli-occupied West Bank, which has 250 recorded cases of the COVID-19 lung disease, a lockdown on public life was swiftly imposed - Bethlehem was sealed off after the first outbreak in March and a state of emergency declared.

    But in the Gaza Strip, a densely populated coastal enclave, there have been few restrictions on movement and people packed into public markets and beaches, with few wearing masks against the risk of coronavirus contagion.

    Forty km (25 miles) apart and separated by Israel, the West Bank and Gaza have no direct link between them.

    Gaza, measuring 375 sq km (145 square miles), is home to around two million Palestinians. Since 2007 it has been under the control of the Islamist militant group Hamas, bitter rivals of President Mahmoud Abbas's more secular Palestinian Authority whose power base is in the West Bank.


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