Israel agrees to vaccinate 100,000 labourers, Palestinians say

Israel agrees to vaccinate 100,000 labourers, Palestinians say
2 min read
20 February, 2021
Israel has agreed to vaccinate 100,000 Palestinian labourers working in the Jewish state, according to the Palestinian Authority.
Palestinian labourers queue to enter Israel through the Mitar checkpoint in Hebron [AFP]

The Palestinian Authority said Friday that Israel had agreed to vaccinate 100,000 Palestinian labourers working in the Jewish state, whose mass coronavirus inoculation campaign is regarded as the world's fastest.

A statement from the Palestinian health ministry said the agreement came "during a meeting which discussed the coronavirus pandemic", without saying when the vaccinations would take place.

The two sides also agreed on "technical cooperation" to combat the spread of the virus, the ministry added.

Neither the Israeli health ministry nor COGAT, the military unit that coordinates civil affairs with the Palestinians, would immediately confirm to AFP a vaccination a deal.

But Israel's health ministry issued a statement saying a meeting took place in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, where the PA is based, with Palestinian counterparts to discuss the virus.

The meeting came "out of the understanding that Israel and the Palestinians live in one territorial unit", noting that the spread of coronavirus in Palestinian territories could affect Israelis, without mentioning the vaccination deal.

Since December, Israel has delivered a shot of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to 4.25 million residents, around 47 percent of its nine million population, 2.88 million of whom have received the recommended full course of two jabs, latest health ministry figures show.

The Palestinian Authority is expecting some two million doses ordered from various manufacturers, in addition to vaccines from the UN-backed Covax programme, set up to help less wealthy nations procure vaccines.

It began vaccinating frontline healthcare workers earlier this month with an initial procurement of 10,000 doses of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine as well as several thousand doses of the Moderna jabs via Israel. 

Israel had closed its crossings to Palestinian day labourers at the beginning of the pandemic, forcing those who wished to continue working in Israel to stay in the Jewish state, where wages are higher.

As its morbidity rates were slowing dropping, Israel was in the process of relaxing its third general lockdown, with COGAT saying that as of Sunday, Palestinian day labourers would once again be allowed into Israel.

According to military radio, some 87,000 were expected to enter Israel to work on Sunday.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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