The Palestinian Authority accuses Israel of ignoring responsibility for ensuring that COVID-19 vaccines are available in the occupied territory.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) has said it plans to receive its first doses of COVID-19 vaccine in March as part of a deal with British drug giant AstraZeneca, and accused Israel of ignoring its responsibilities to guarantee the availability of vaccines in occupied territory.
While Israel has already emerged as the world leader in per capita immunizations, Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip have yet to secure their first supplies.
Yasser Bozyeh, the Palestinian director general of public health, told Reuters news agency that in addition to reaching an agreement in principle with AstraZeneca, the PA also sought supplies from Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and Russia, who developed the Sputnik V.
The supplies would also go through a World Health Organization vaccination program for poor and middle-income countries.
There was no immediate comment from AstraZeneca.
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Israel had “ignored its duties as an occupying power and racially discriminated against the Palestinian people, depriving them of their right to health care.”
“The search by the Palestinian leadership to secure vaccines from various sources does not relieve Israel of its responsibilities to the Palestinian people by providing the vaccines,” he said.
As part of the interim peace accords with Israel, the Palestinian Authority has been granted limited governance powers in areas A and B of the West Bank.
The results of the deal, known as the Oslo Accords, in fact left Israel complete control of the Palestinian economy, as well as its civil and security affairs in over 60% of the West Bank. , designated as Zone C.
Although it has granted the interim government control over administrative and internal security matters in parts of the West Bank, Israel maintains military control over the entire region.
Hamas rules the Gaza Strip, which has been the subject of a joint Israeli-Egyptian air, land and naval blockade since 2007.
Israel’s vaccination program covers Palestinians of Israeli citizenship and Palestinian residents of occupied East Jerusalem.
In the West Bank, he only gave vaccines to Jewish settlers living in illegal settlements, but not to Palestinians.
Human rights groups including Amnesty International say Israel has a legal obligation to provide vaccines to Palestinians under occupation, while activists on Twitter have criticized Israel’s vaccination campaign excluding Palestinians from the occupied territories as “Apartheid”.
Israel to spread covid to Palestinians under its control through heavy raids and military occupation to not give them vaccines is apartheid at its best.
– Remi Kanazi (@Remroum) January 2, 2021
I am so disgusted by the celebratory accounts of Israel’s immunization program when it rests on the refusal to immunize the Palestinian people under their de jure and de facto control in their prisons, in the West Bank and Gaza.
– Laleh Khalili (@LalehKhalili) January 2, 2021
Israeli officials say they could share the vaccines with the Palestinians once Israel’s needs are met.
An official from the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Sunday that the organization had had “informal discussions” with Israel over allocating certain supplies to Palestinians to immunize health workers.
The official, Gerald Rockenschaub, head of the WHO office in the Palestinian territories, said Israel has indicated it will explore this option.