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8 Mar, 2021 13:06

Israel begins vaccinating Palestinian workers against Covid-19 after delays & international condemnation

Israel begins vaccinating Palestinian workers against Covid-19 after delays & international condemnation

Tel Aviv has begun vaccinating Palestinian laborers from the West Bank who work in Israel following heated debates over who should be responsible for inoculating people against Covid-19 in the occupied territories.

On Monday, the first Palestinian laborers who crossed into Israel at West Bank border points were inoculated against Covid-19, as Israel sets out to vaccinate 100,000 Palestinian workers against the virus. The latest vaccine push comes more than two months after Israel began mass immunization of its own population.

Major General Kamil Abu Rukun, the head of COGAT, Israel's military agency coordinating government operations, said that the move represented a shared interest of Israelis and Palestinians, as they all “live in the same epidemiological space.” 

Those entering Israel on Monday morning were given the vaccine developed by US firm, Moderna. 

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Israel has come under increasing pressure in recent weeks to expand its inoculation campaign to the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza. Human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, have pointed out that Israel has a responsibility to vaccinate Palestinians as the occupying power. 

Meanwhile, some say that Palestine took back control for the provision of health services when they signed the Oslo Accords in 1993 and 1995. 

More than 53 percent of Israel’s population of 9.3 million people have been successfully inoculated with the jab, according to data from the Health Ministry, while more than 40 percent have received two doses of the vaccine.  

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As of the end of February, the West Bank had received 2,000 doses from Israel and 10,000 from Russia, according to Palestinian officials. Gaza had received 20,000 doses from the UAE and 2,000 that were taken from the Russian delivery to the West Bank. 

In February, more criticism was levied against Israel as the country briefly blocked a shipment of 2,000 Russian jabs from reaching Gaza. However, the Palestinian-led vaccination effort has also been blasted, after it emerged that politicians, their bodyguards and the national football team received Covid-19 jabs meant for healthcare workers. 

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