Palestinians scrap vaccine deal as Israel jabs 'about to expire'

Palestinians scrap vaccine deal as Israel jabs 'about to expire'
2 min read
18 June, 2021
The Palestinian Authority cancelled a deal that would have seen Israel provide it with one million Covid-19 vaccine doses as the jabs are 'about to expire'.
Israel authorities are being criticised for giving vaccines that are about to expire [Getty]

The Palestinian Authority said Friday it cancelled a deal that would have seen Israel provide it with one million Covid-19 vaccine doses as the jabs are "about to expire".

An initial delivery of Pfizer doses failed to conform "to the specifications contained in the agreement, and accordingly prime minister Mohammad Shtayyeh instructed the minister of health to cancel the agreement," government spokesman Ibrahim Melhem said.

"The government refuses to receive vaccines that are about to expire," he added, in a statement carried by the official WAFA news agency.

More than 55 percent of Israel's population - some 5.1 million people - have received both doses of the vaccine.

On the Palestinian side, just over 260,000 people have received their two doses in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, according to the Palestinian health ministry. Some five million people live in the occupied West Bank and besieged strip.

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From Wednesday to Thursday, 170 new Covid-19 cases were recorded in the West Bank and Gaza, bringing the total since the start of the pandemic to more than 312,000, 3,540 of them.

The deal comes amid high tensions between Tel Aviv and the Palestinians, with violations of a fragile ceasefire that has seen Israeli jets bombard the impoverished enclave for a second time late on Thursday since the ceasefire.

In Gaza, the coronavirus response has been hobbled by last month's violence, which devastated infrastructure and reduced entire tower blocks to piles of smoking rubble.

Israel has faced months of intense criticism from rights groups and medical professionals for hindering Palestinian efforts to curb the spread of the deadly virus and refusing to include Palestinians living mere kilometres away under its military occupation in its vaccination drive.