Mohammad Shtayyeh
Mohammad Shtayyeh Reuters

Palestinian Authority (PA) cabinet leader Mohammed Shtayyeh claimed on Wednesday that the real obstacle facing the Palestinians in their fight to prevent the spread of coronavirus is "the occupation, the settlers, the checkpoints and all measures taken to hamper our efforts to protect our people and stop the spread of the virus."

Shtayyeh’s remarks were made after it was reported that another 15 Palestinian Arabs had tested positive for COVID-19. According to the official PA news agency Wafa, the new cases are workers are at one of the factories in Atarot in northern Jerusalem.

Shtayyeh claimed that by making it easier for Palestinian Arab workers to cross from the PA to their workplaces in Israel or the “settlements”, Israel is hampering Palestinian efforts to curb the spread of the virus.

"We see the continuation of the permits for employees to go to their workplaces as an attempt to try to protect the Israeli economy at the expense of workers' lives, but the Israeli economy is not more important than our children's lives," he added.

His comments come several days after senior PA officials accused IDF soldiers and “settlers” of deliberately distributing the coronavirus in the PA.

The 15 new cases of coronavirus come after two days in which the PA recorded no new cases.

On Sunday, two new cases of coronavirus were discovered in Hebron, bringing the total in the PA at the time to 108.

According to Kan 11 News, as a result of the two cases in Hebron the PA had decided to impose a closure on the city as of Monday. During the closure, all access routes to the city will be blocked and no one will be permitted to enter or exit.