Israel has announced that it will issue “green passports” to people vaccinated against the coronavirus. The document, valid for six months, will be given to those taking both doses of the immunizing agent and will give carriers benefits such as participation in sporting and cultural events, in addition to not needing to be quarantined when of returning to the country abroad. Documents valid for 72 hours will also be issued to anyone who tests negative for the virus.
Due to the rate of mass vaccination in the country, the most important in the world at present, the demand will be great. About 17% of the population of 9.3 million have already taken their first dose of the Pfizer / BioNTech immunizer since December 20.
Much more than other countries, such as Great Britain (1.5%) and the United States (less than 1%). About 1.6 million doses have already been administered, mainly in people over 60 and medical teams.
“We are breaking all records,” said Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who hopes to vaccinate 1.8 million Israelis by the end of January and 6 million by the next elections on March 23. The Prime Minister is taking part in the fourth election in two years and vaccination has become his main banner.
The speed of vaccination in Israel is based on the small size of the country (smaller than Sergipe) and the existence of four parallel universal health systems, which serve the population free of charge and are accustomed to carrying out mass treatments in case of conflicts or natural disasters. .
The military also helps with the complex logistics of transporting vaccines, which must be stored at -70 ° C.
For writer and columnist Ben-Dror Yemini, success is based on the speed and informality of Israelis. “We are good at dealing with ‘mess’, improvising and taking risks. While in France each vaccinee must sign a 42-page term, here people sign a single page and everything takes a few minutes ”.
Yemini points to the fact that Netanyahu personally dealt with the pharmaceutical companies and paid a higher price, around US $ 30 per dose, double the amount paid by Europeans. “You can criticize him a lot, but in this case he did it well. A week less than a lockdown in the country is already paying for the most expensive vaccines. “
Despite the optimism and efficiency, three problems threaten vaccination in Israel. The first is that vaccines are lacking. The rate of 150,000 inoculated per day led to the end of the first batch in the first week of January.
Under pressure from Netanyahu, Pfizer agreed to send an additional 1 million doses on Sunday (10). In return, he called on the Israeli authorities to provide statistics to help better understand the effectiveness of his vaccine. Israel would then be a “model” to study.
The second problem is the British variant of the virus, which has led to the increase in Covid-19 cases. Hospitals are overcrowded, there are more than 8,000 new infected people every day, and the death toll is close to 30 (a total of 3,596 people have died).
As there is an interval of 21 days between the application of the two doses of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine, the country was forced to decree, from midnight Thursday (7), a more severe lockdown than that in force. since the end of December, with schools closed and many restrictions.
Another problem is the super-religious population, the ultra-Orthodox, who make up 12% of the citizens. They are reluctant to suspend towns, school classes and rabbinical seminars. Something similar is happening with the Arab-Israeli minority (20% of the population).
While Israel is immunizing its people, vaccination has yet to start in the West Bank (2.8 million) and Gaza Strip (2 million).
Amnesty International issued a statement on Wednesday (6) demanding that Israel “stop ignoring its international obligations as an occupying force and act immediately to ensure that Covid-19 vaccines are also provided to Palestinians in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip “.
The note ignores that Israel has not occupied Gaza for 15 years and that the Islamic group Hamas, which controls the region, does not recognize Israel.
Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said the priority was Israeli citizens, but it was in the country’s interest to contain the virus on the Palestinian side. Israel has been working with the Palestinian Ministry of Health since the start of the pandemic, with training and transfer of masks, syringes and equipment.
Israel has occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem since 1967 – left Gaza in 2005. Under the Geneva Convention, it is responsible for the well-being of Palestinians in these areas.
But in 1995, Israel and the Palestinian National Authority signed the Oslo Accords 2, creating the Palestinian Ministry of Health, which became solely responsible for this function, with the exception of the 300,000 Palestinians in Jerusalem. Is, who have medical coverage in Israel.
According to these agreements, the two governments must coordinate vaccination efforts.
Despite this, and despite protests from NGOs, the Palestinian Authority has preferred, at least publicly, not to depend on Israel for vaccination in the West Bank. In Gaza, Hamas would certainly not ask for help.
The Palestinians are negotiating directly with Russia to receive Sputnik V, with pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, and the WHO’s Covax initiative, a program that aims to make vaccinations viable at more affordable prices.
The director general of the Palestinian Ministry of Health, Yasser Bouzieh, said millions of doses via Covax are expected to arrive in February. The same can happen with the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
“They want to be independent. We must respect this decision ”, declares lawyer Daniel Pomerantz, managing director of the NGO Honest Reporting. “If there is no coordination or formal request, Israel is prohibited from doing anything by default. Can you imagine what would happen if Israel were to forcibly vaccinate the Palestinians? “
Israeli television Kan 11 revealed that the Palestinian Authority has asked Israel for 10,000 doses to vaccinate medical teams. Hussein al-Sheikh, head of civilian coordination with the Israelis, said Israel refused to pass the vaccines, but Israeli sources said the country secretly provided dozens of doses to the Palestinians.
Palestinians also have a high rate of hesitation about the vaccine amid waves of fake news and conspiracy theories. A vaccine provided by Israel could be another reason to ward off skeptics.
is the total population of Israel
have already taken the first dose of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine since December 20
doses have already been applied, mainly in people over 60 years old and healthcare professionals
people vaccinated, this is what Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu hopes to achieve by March 23