On February 2th, 2021 Palestinian Authority launched a COVID-19 vaccination campaign with health workers receiving the first shots after the delivery of doses from Israel and international shipments expected within days.
Medical personnel treating coronavirus patients or working in intensive care units were inoculated at Hugo Chavez hospital in the West Bank city of Ramallah, headquarters of the Palestinian Authority (PA).
Bassil BAWATNEH, the hospital’s director said: “It was a wonderful step because it is crucial to protect medical staff who are dealing with COVID-19 patients from zero distance and are at risk of getting the infection”.
The Moderna vaccines are the first batch of the promised 5000 shots to be delivered by Israel to inoculate medical workers.
UN as well as leading rights groups including Human Rights, pressed Israel in the last weeks to help Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in the West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip to gain access to vaccines.
Mai al-KAILA the Palestinian Health Minister said on 02.02.2021 “We started today”, adding that a supply of doses would be sent to Gaza, an Israeli-blockaded territory controlled by the Palestinian group Hamas, so that inoculation of front-line workers could begin in the enclave. “We have given the highest priority to health personnel … and those working in intensive care units,” she said in a video distributed by Palestinian television. The PA has previously said it signed contracts with four vaccine providers, including the makers of Russia’s Sputnik V.
People over the age of 60 or with chronic illnesses will be the first to be inoculated among the general public, the Health Ministry said.
Its procurement arrangements should be enough to cover 70 % of the Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza, the PA has said.
The Palestinians hope to acquire tens of thousands more doses in the coming weeks through a World Health Organization (WHO) programme.
In the West Bank, live about 2.8 million Palestinians, more than 108.000 coronavirus cases have been recorded, with 1.325 deaths.
In Gaza, a deeply-impoverished territory with an estimated two million residents, Hamas authorities have registered more than 51.000 cases, including 523 deaths.
Israel has occupied the West Bank since the 1967 Six-Day War.
Its forces withdrew from Gaza in 2005, but have maintained a tight blockade on the strip since 2007, the year Hamas took power.
Benjamin NETANYAHU said that he “approved” the small vaccine shipment to the West Bank given Israel’s “interest in there not being high infections there”.
Palestinian president Mahmud ABBAS extended the state of emergency this week in the West Bank by 30 days in a bid to stem transmission.
Hamas has maintained tight restrictions in Gaza, including nightly and weekend curfews.
This article was edited using the data from the Aljazeera.com, Thenationalnews.com, France24.com, Trtworld.com, and Reuters.com.