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Succumbing to international pressure, Israel agrees to give 5,000 coronavirus vaccines to Palestinian frontline workers Open in fullscreen

The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Succumbing to international pressure, Israel agrees to give 5,000 coronavirus vaccines to Palestinian frontline workers

This is the first time that Israel has confirmed the transfer of vaccines to Palestinians.[Getty]

Date of publication: 31 January, 2021

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The World Health Organization has raised concerns about the disparity between Israel and Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Israel has agreed to transfer 5,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine to the Palestinians to immunise frontline medical workers, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz's office announced on Sunday.

It was the first time that Israel has confirmed the transfer of vaccines to the Palestinians, who have not yet received any vaccines.

The World Health Organization has raised concerns about the disparity between Israel and Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, and international human rights groups and UN experts have said Israel is responsible for the well being of Palestinians in these areas.

Gantz's office said early on Sunday the transfer had been approved. It had no further details on when that would happen. There was no immediate comment from Palestinian officials.

Read more:  Doubt and division cast a shadow over Palestinian elections

Israel is one of the world's leaders in vaccinating its population after striking procurement deals with international drug giants Pfizer and Moderna.

The Health Ministry says nearly one-third of Israel’s 9.3 million people have received the first dose of the vaccine, while about 1.7 million people have received both doses.

The campaign includes Israel’s Palestinian citizens as well as Palestinians living in annexed east Jerusalem.

But Palestinians living in the West Bank under the autonomy government of the Palestinian Authority and those living under Hamas rule in Gaza Strip are not included.

The Palestinian Authority has been trying to acquire doses through a WHO program known as COVAX. But the programme, which aims to procure vaccines for needed countries, has been slow to get off the ground.

The dispute reflects global inequality in access to vaccines, as wealthy countries vacuum up the lion's share of doses, leaving poorer countries even farther behind in combating the public health and economic effects of the pandemic.

It has also emerged as another flashpoint in the decades-old Mideast conflict, even as the virus has wreaked havoc on both sides.

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