Israel and Palestinians coordinate response over Ebola threat


With global concerns growing over the spread of Ebola, Israeli and Palestinian Authority (PA) officials met over the weekend to help coordinate a regional response to tackle the threat. Israel also announced more stringent border screening for those travelling from West Africa.

On Saturday night, Israeli officials reportedly including Gen. Yoav Mordechai, Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), and Prof Alex Leventhal from the Health Ministry met with Palestinian counterparts. They decided that Israeli medics will help train Palestinian and Jordanian teams to fight the virus. Last week, Israel decided to send medical teams to West Africa to join the international effort against the deadly disease.

A COGAT statement said, “During the meeting, updates were exchanged between the parties, and transfer of information was agreed upon by way of additional meetings.” Meanwhile, Palestinian Health Ministry official Assad Ramlawi commented, “There are contacts with the Israeli side regarding this within the context of WHO’s [World Health Organisation] instructions on fighting this virus.”

Meanwhile, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday held a meeting with representatives from the Health, Transportation, Interior, Foreign and Justice Ministries, plus the Israel Aviation Authority, police and army, to discuss how best to guard against Ebola. Although there have been no reported cases of the disease in Israel, Netanyahu announced that, “We are taking a certain number of measures to isolate any sick people from countries at risk and to treat them of course.” Efforts will apparently focus on screening those travelling from Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia at Israel’s border crossings including Ben Gurion International Airport. Informational signs about Ebola in Hebrew, English, French and Arabic will be placed at all border crossings, according to Haaretz.

Israel is a popular destination for African Christian pilgrims. Israel’s Tourism Ministry said that approximately 43,000 African tourists had visited Israel since the beginning of 2014.