Israel to transfer 5,000 vaccines to Palestinian medical personnel

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Tel Aviv (dpa) – Israel will transfer 5,000 Covid-19 vaccines to the Palestinian Authority for use by medical staff who work on the pandemic’s front lines.

“The first batch is expected to be transferred at the beginning of the next week,” the office of the defence minister said on Sunday in a statement. No further details were immediately available. 

Palestinian critics have urged the Palestinian Authority (PA), which has autonomous control over parts of the occupied West Bank, not to accept the vaccines if offered. 

They say Israel is acting only after being slammed internationally for not providing vaccines to the Palestinians, even though it is Israel’s moral and legal responsibility as an occupying power.

Israel wants to improve its image with this handout of an “almost negligible” amount of doses, they argued, urging the PA instead to wait until Russian vaccines start arriving, most likely next week.

The PA granted emergency approval on January 11 for the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine. 

The authority has ordered vaccines from four manufacturers and will also obtain doses through the World Health Organization. 

It never officially asked the Israeli government for the vaccine. Israel argues that under interim peace deals singed in the 1990s, the PA is responsible for the health of Palestinians under its control. 

Rights group Amnesty International recently called on Israel to fulfill its “international obligations as an occupying power” and ensure that Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza were given fair consideration in the distribution of vaccines.

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