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The New Arab Staff

Palestinians expect Covid vaccines in March with no help from Israel

Covid-19 has spread through the West Bank [Getty]

Date of publication: 11 January, 2021

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Palestinians are expected to receive the first batch of Covid vaccines by March.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) said on Sunday it will receive its first batch of Covid-19 vaccines by March, but hit out at Israel for providing no assistance during the health crisis.

Palestinian General Director of Public Health Yasser Bozyeh told Reuters that it had reached a deal in principle with drug maker AstraZeneca to provide the vaccine.

Israel has already rolled out a mass vaccination programme for its population but has been criticised for providing no assistance to Palestinians in the West Bank, which is under Israeli occupation.

"The search by the Palestinian leadership to secure the vaccines from various sources doesn't exempt Israel from its responsibilities towards the Palestinian people in providing the vaccines," the Palestinian foreign ministry said in a statement.

"[Israel has been] ignoring its duties as an occupation power and committing racial discrimination against the Palestinian people, depriving them of their right to healthcare."

Read also: Why is Israel denying Covid vaccine to Palestinians? Two words: Medical apartheid

The PA has also looked at Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and Russia's Sputnik V for other possible vaccines with support coming from the World Health Organisation's (WHO) Covax programme.

NGOs say Israel has a legal obligation to provide health and medical support to Palestinians in the West Bank under its occupation.

The WHO is in "informal discussions" with Israel to have some of its vaccines allocated to Palestinian health workers.

Gerald Rockenschaub, head of the WHO office in the Palestinian territories, said Israel is considering providing the Palestinians in the West Bank on the frontlines in fighting Covid-19 with the vaccine, following widespread criticism from NGOs and the medical community.

Israel has vaccinated more people per capita than any other country in the world with over 20 percent of its population inoculated.

The PA reported 20 deaths and 699 Covid-19 cases on Monday, with the disease claiming the lives of 1,756 Palestinians.

Israel has occupied the West Bank since 1967 with only limited autonomy to some sections of the Palestinian territories while Gaza remains under full siege.

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