Israel, who had initially refused to vaccinate Palestinians living in Israel and areas recognized as the country’s territory, began vaccinating Palestinian residents last week. This comes two months after Israel started its vaccination program, during which 40% of Israel’s population has received the vaccine.
Palestinian workers living in Westbank received the first dose of the Moderna vaccine. Before last week, most Palestinians residing in the area and some parts of Gaza had not been considered in Israel’s vaccine program.
Israel accused by human rights organizations of abandoning its responsibility towards Palestinian residents
Human rights organizations and many Palestinians living in Israel-occupied areas have called the actions of the Israeli government “cruel”. They claim that Israel has a responsibility towards all the citizens that live in the areas it occupies, including Palestinians.
Israel has refuted the claims, saying it’s not obligated to provide vaccines to Palestinians according to an interim peace accord agreed on in the ’90s.
Israel added that its priority was first towards its own citizens and that Palestinians should face their own government. Palestine will reportedly receive vaccines through COVAX, an initiative of the United Nations.
Israel promised to supply vaccines to other nations
In the midst of the controversy, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, announced that the country will supply vaccines to countries in Africa and other continents after they complete their vaccination program. The plan was frozen by a legal case against it, and it’s currently on hold.
Palestine received more than 1800 vaccines from Israel. The country also purchased vaccines from Russia and received donated vials from the UAE. Palestine started its vaccination program with its health workers as a priority to receive the vaccine.
More than 150,000 Palestinians living in Israel-occupied areas have been killed from the coronavirus. The country is also battling an increase in COVID-19 infections, with some parts ordering complete lockdowns.