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Press Release: Palestinian President Declares State of Emergency due to Coronavirus

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7 March 2020 |Reference 14/2020

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared a 30-day state of emergency on Thursday, 5 March 2020, after seven people tested positive for coronavirus in Bethlehem, the West Bank. The presidential decree was announced by the Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh who stated that this move aims at confronting the danger of the coronavirus and preventing it from spreading. Given full authority by the president to implement the decision, Shtayyeh announced the state of emergency to be applicable in all Palestinian areas. Accordingly, all schools, colleges, and kindergartens will be closed for the stated period. However, doctors and employees shall continue to work.


In light of the detection of coronavirus cases in the West Bank and warnings voiced by the World Health Organization, Al Mezan understands the urgency of the situation necessitating the issuance of the presidential decree—based on Article 110 of the Amended Basic Law—and stresses the need to comply with it to protect the public interest. In this context, Al Mezan calls on the competent authorities to adhere to Article 111 regarding the state of emergency that dictate “it is not allowed to impose restrictions on fundamental rights and freedoms when declaring a state of emergency except to the extent necessary to fulfill the purpose stated in the decree declaring the state of emergency.”


To this end, only necessary and appropriate measures shall be taken when implementing quarantine or accommodating patients in a manner that ensures enjoyment of their basic rights. These measures, which must be made public, are subject to control in accordance with the provisions of the Basic Law. 


In this regard, media outlets must play a vital role in combatting rumors and the panic they breed by fact checking all relevant information before publication. Al Mezan therefore stresses the role of free press as a pathway to promoting awareness among residents and strengthening preventive measures.


In fights against pandemics, individuals and groups alike must collaborate to aid the government’s endeavors to prevent the spread of the disease.