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Israel to vaccinate Palestinians aged over 16 with its surplus doses, report says

Israel plans to vaccinate Palestinians aged 16 and over once using surplus doses after it completes its campaign to inoculate its own citizen.

Israel’s Health Ministry has said this would help prevent cross-border infection, including new mutations.

This comes after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s controversial plan to ship surplus coronavirus vaccines to a group of allied nations was frozen last week following a legal challenge to the deal, his office announced.

Palestinian Authority (PA) Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki had called Netanyahu’s overseas vaccine shipments “political blackmail and an immoral act”, accusing Israel of “exploitation of the humanitarian needs of these countries”.

According to the latest health ministry data, 52 per cent of Israel’s population has been administered with a vaccine jab, making it a world leader.

Late on Sunday, Netanyahu’s government agreed to vaccinate tens of thousands of Palestinians holding permits to work in Israel and the illegal settlements after heavy criticism over the small number of jabs given to those under its occupation in the West Bank and in Gaza.

Human rights organisations have argued that international law requires Israel to provide Palestinians with similar access to vaccines as its own citizens as an occupying power.

Following the global pressure, Israel’s Defence Ministry announced on Monday that it has transferred 2,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine to the PA and said that it has earmarked another 3,000 doses for the Palestinians.

The PA also expects to receive an initial COVAX shipment within weeks and says it has supply deals with Russia and drugmaker AstraZeneca, although doses have been slow to come.

The occupied West Bank, where 3.1 million Palestinians live, has today recorded a total of 1,826 new COVID-19 cases and 19 deaths.

Among the new 1,826 cases, 1,680 cases were recorded in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and 146 others in the besieged Gaza Strip.