After initially blocking the transfer, Israel approves half of the vaccines the Palestinian Authority demanded.
Israel has approved the transfer of 1,000 Covid-19 vaccines to Gaza, the besieged Palestinian territory, after initially blocking the transfer.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) had asked Israel, which controls access to Gaza, to deliver 2,000 doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, however, Tel Aviv had blocked the move without any explanation.
Israel’s National Security Council has only said that it’s “examining the request” and has now approved just half of the original doses the PA was seeking to transfer.
"Israel's denial of Covid vaccines to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza speaks volumes about the control that Israel has over all Palestinian lives,” says Antony Loewenstein an independent author and film-maker who lived in Jerusalem from 2016-2020.
A first batch of coronavirus vaccines, enough to inoculate 1,000 people, arrived in Gaza, Palestinian and Israeli officials said, after Israel blocked a shipment earlier this week https://t.co/KRvP6AybdC— AFP News Agency (@AFP) February 17, 2021
“Despite Israeli claims, Israel has a legal and moral responsibility to assist Palestinians,” added Loewenstein speaking to TRT World.
UN experts in a recent statement have made it explicitly clear that Israel bears the responsibility to ensure mass vaccination in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.
“Israel has not ensured that Palestinians under occupation in the West Bank and Gaza will have any near-future access to the available vaccines. The COVID-19 pandemic has been ravaging the West Bank and Gaza in recent months, and has fractured an already badly under-resourced Palestinian health care system,” the UN statement said.
“The impact on Palestinians themselves has been devastating because they are seeing their Israeli Jewish neighbours getting vaccinated including illegal settlers while they themselves as Palestinians have to suffer the consequences of Covid-19,” added Loewenstein.
Even as Israel has raced ahead vaccinating more than 47 percent of its people, the highest rate in the world, Palestinians have yet to start a national vaccination programme.
As one of the most densely populated places on earth, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on Gaza will only add to hardship many face as a result of a blockade by Israel, says Motasem Dalloul, a journalist in the enclave.
The first doses of coronavirus vaccine arrived in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday after Israel held up their delivery earlier this week. https://t.co/d3Uf1zAK4G— New York Times World (@nytimesworld) February 17, 2021
“Of course, this will undermine the fight against Covid-19 in the coastal enclave which has been under a 14-year tight Israeli blockade,” says Dalloul about Israel’s attempt to block the vaccines from entering the Palestinian territory.
The Gaza enclave is only a one-hour car ride from the occupied West Bank, however, Palestinians attempting to leave or enter the coastal strip often need to wait weeks for a response.
Israeli policies will only add to the burden on the “authorities in Gaza which have been suffering from a severe shortfall in the budget on top of which the health ministry is suffering from a severe shortage of medical equipment and medicines,” says Dalloul speaking to TRT World.
“There are not enough ventilators for the Covid-19 patients in the ICUs across the Gaza hospitals, where the numbers of daily Covid-19 cases have not yet stabilised”.
Israel’s actions says Dalloul only “pushes the authorities in Gaza to extend the lockdown which undermined the already deteriorated economy.”
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