Israel announced on Friday (18) that it would donate at least 1 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine to the Palestinian Authority. The agreement to boost the vaccination campaign in the region calls on the Palestinians to return the same number of doses later this year as they receive their own batches of the vaccine.
According to a joint statement from the office of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and the Israeli ministries of health and defense, the country will transfer between 1 million and 1.4 million doses of the vaccine manufactured by Pfizer, which is expected to expire soon. .
According to the announcement, Israel’s vaccine stock is meeting the country’s immediate needs, and the PA is expected to repay the donation in September or October. Palestinian health officials told Reuters news agency they expected to receive the Israeli shipment in August and September.
The vaccination campaign in Israel continues at a steady pace, and 59.49% of its population has received both doses of the coronavirus immunizing agent, according to data from the Our World in Data monitor, linked to the university. from Oxford.
The country, however, has received criticism and accusations for failing to make an effort to ensure Palestinians also have access to protection – so far only 4.89% of them are fully immunized. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, 436,000 people received at least one dose and 260,000 both. In Israel, the absolute figures are 5.49 million and 5.15 million, respectively.
Israeli website Walla reported that the first batch of the donation agreement, with around 100,000 doses, was being handed over to the Palestinians on Friday. Total donations, according to the portal, would go only to the West Bank, not the Gaza Strip, an area currently controlled by Hamas, a radical faction Israel considers terrorist and which played a leading role in the 11-day conflict. ended with the ceasefire agreement a month ago.
Despite appeals from human rights organizations, a petition filed with the highest court of justice, and recommendations from experts that Israel invest in a massive campaign to vaccinate Palestinians, Israeli authorities say, in accordance with Oslo accords, Palestinians are responsible for vaccination in the West Bank.
For the Israeli group Physicians for Human Rights, however, the country has a moral and legal obligation to guarantee the health of the inhabitants of the territories under its control. “The fact that Israel has so far sent only a few vaccines is a shameful discharge of its responsibility.”
According to the organization, the donation agreement, in addition to being late, is insufficient. In a social media post, the organization said it was “very doubtful” that Palestinians could use the doses before they expired and called for the vaccines to be delivered to Gaza as well, where fears of further conflict. reappeared after an exchange of attacks. between the army and Hamas.
Until now, the Palestinian Authority relies mainly on donated doses to immunize the population. China, which has invested heavily in so-called “vaccine diplomacy,” donated 100,000 doses to the Palestinians. Russia, 58 thousand. Israel also donated a batch of 5,000 doses of Moderna’s vaccine and 200 doses of Pfizer to Palestinian health professionals. The country has also vaccinated 100,000 other Palestinians who are in regular contact with Israelis in the workplace.
The Gaza Strip, in turn, received 50,000 doses from the Covax Facility, a global consortium established to distribute immunization agents to low- and middle-income countries, as well as 50,000 doses from the United Arab Emirates, which resumed their diplomatic relations with Israel in an agreement signed last year, and a thousand doses from the Palestinian Authority.
As Israel lifted nearly all of the restrictions that had been imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus, Palestine had its worst time since the pandemic began in March and April, when it hit peaks of more of 2,800 cases per day.
Currently, the moving average is 188 daily infections, but the comparison with Israel given the respective population sizes highlights the contrast between the epidemiological scenarios of the two territories. Palestine recorded this Thursday (17) a moving average of 36.85 new cases of Covid-19 per million inhabitants; the same index in Israel is 1.93.