Palestinians stop producing fake coronavirus masks, hand sanitizer

Over 40 Palestinians arrested on charges of manufacturing ineffective face masks, useless hand sanitizers and price gouging according to a PA official.



The Palestinian Authority has in the past two weeks closed several factories and businesses whose owners were caught manufacturing unlicensed face masks and hand sanitizers that were being sold to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

More than 40 suspects have been arrested on charges of fraud, price gouging and manufacturing unlicensed products, said an official with the PA Ministry of National Economy.

The crackdown came in response to complaints from many Palestinians that the products did not meet the standards and regulations of the PA Ministry of Health and Ministry of National Economy, the official said.

Palestinian National Authority Ministry of Health

The unlicensed products were being sold at high prices to thousands of anxious Palestinian consumers in different parts of the West Bank.

“Most of the products carried fake labels indicating they had been approved by the Ministry of Health,” Mohammed Nabil, a pharmacist from Hebron, said. “We were not aware that the face masks and hand sanitizers were fake until health officials and policemen raided our pharmacy and confiscated the gel bottles and masks.”

Ashraf Abu Khalaf, an official with the PA Ministry of Health, warned that some businessmen were exploiting the panic over the virus to make illegal profits. “We won’t hesitate to take strict measures against those behind this ugly and disturbing phenomenon,” he said.

On Sunday, Palestinian security officers and representatives of the PA Ministry of National Economy closed two tailoring factories in Nablus and the nearby town of Salfit after discovering they were manufacturing unlicensed face masks. They also confiscated and destroyed thousands of unlicensed masks and hand sanitizer bottles from dozens of shops and pharmacies in the Nablus area.

In Hebron, five tailoring factories were closed in the past few days after they too were caught producing unlicensed face masks intended for use to prevent the spread of the virus.

In Jenin, the PA closed a curtain shop whose owners were also caught producing unlicensed face masks.

Maher al-Qaisi, a senior official with the PA Ministry of National Economy, said the masks that were seized in the factories did not meet the conditions required for obtaining a manufacturing license.


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