Israel allows settlement volunteers in despite coronavirus travel ban

Israel allows evangelical volunteers from US into West Bank settlements despite coronavirus travel ban
2 min read
09 September, 2020
Around 70 American Evangelicals are being allowed to fly into Israel despite a ban on most non-Israelis entering the country.
The volunteers will pick grapes for settlement wineries [Getty]
Dozens of people have been granted special permission to enter Israel and volunteer in West Bank settlements despite a Covid-19 travel ban, Haaretz reported. 

Most non-Israelis have been banned from entering Israel since the coronavirus pandemic began earlier this year, but around 70 volunteers from Hayovel - a Christian US-based evangelical organisation - have been granted a special exception to help West Bank settlers with the grape harvest.

They will pick grapes for wineries owned by Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank during the harvest season, which typically runs between August and October.

"Several different people in the government" helped Hayovel obtain three-month tourist visas for its volunteers, the organisation's marketing director told Haaretz.

Most non-Israeli citizens are barred from entering the country with exceptions applying to the spouses and children of Israeli nationals and Jews looking to emmigrate to the country or volunteer in the army.

Additionally, foreign students have also been granted permission to enter the country.

Hayovel's volunteers began arriving last month, completing a 14-day quarantine period before beginning work at wineries owned by the Har Bracha settlement near Nablus, in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Israel has occupied the West Bank since 1967, and has since allowed the construction of settlements considered illegal under international law across the Palestinian territory.

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