Israel to vaccinate Palestinian workers within days
A Palestinian health worker prepares a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine in Gaza City February 22, 2021.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Physicians for Human Rights Executive director said the vital and necessary gesture was better late than never.
Israel is set to administer the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to 100,000 Palestinian workers as China and India offer to send shipments of vaccines to the Palestinian Authority.
“During the coming days, a vaccination campaign will begin for Palestinian workers employed in Israel, and in the communities across Judea and Samaria,” the Office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories announced on Sunday.
The move comes after Israel has been under fire from the international community to provide vaccines to the Palestinians in addition to the 5,000 it has pledged to the Palestinian Authority, of which 2,000 have already been received.
While the media attention has been on Israel, plans are underway for the Palestinians to receive vaccines from other sources.
At the United Nations Security Council monthly meeting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Friday, the 15-member body spoke of how to best help ensure that the Palestinians receive the financial and donor support necessary to ensure that its population of close to 5 million people in the West Bank and Gaza is vaccinated.
“China has decided to donate COVID-19 vaccines to Palestine,” Chinese Ambassador Geng Shuang told the United Nations Security Council during its monthly meeting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“These vaccines will be delivered to Palestine real soon. We will continue to do our best to help Palestine fight the pandemic,” Geng said.
He noted that China had already sent medical supplies to 141 health centers for Palestinian refugees run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.
India’s Deputy Representative Nagaraj Naidu said that his country would “facilitate an early supply of vaccines to Palestine.”
He added that, “equity in access to vaccines across the world is important for mitigating the impact of the pandemic.”
India has already sent medicines and medical supplies to the Palestinians and plans to send a second shipment of such aid, he said.
Both China and India are exporters of COVID-19 vaccines. Neither envoy gave details with respect to how many vaccines they would send.
Last week, the European Union pledged to provide 20 million euros for the purchase of vaccines for the Palestinians.
The initial large batches of vaccines for the Palestinians, which are set to arrive this month, have been donated through a private-public partnership called Gavi, which is assisted in part by the UN, including its World Health Organization.
Those vaccines, which go under the rubric of COVAX, will inoculate 20% of the Palestinian population.
According to the WHO, the Palestinians are set to receive 240-405,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines through Gavi’s COVAX program. These vaccines will be sent out in batches of 24,000 doses, the first of which will arrive within the next 10 to 14 days.
Also due to arrive from COVAX are 37,440 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine from the WHO.
Separately, 22,000 doses of the Russian Sputnik vaccine entered Gaza earlier this month, of which 20,000 were donated by the United Arab Emirates.
Palestinians with permits to work in Israel as well as in West Bank settlements and industrial zones can receive the Moderna vaccine from Israeli doctors.
“The operation, led by COGAT, the Central Command, the Health Ministry and the Land Crossings Authority – will begin during the coming days,” COGAT said, adding that this will include the establishment of vaccination centers at the crossings linking the West Bank and sovereign Israel. Additional centers will be set up in West Bank settlements and industrial zones.