Middle East/North Africa

Israel will give COVID-19 vaccine to Palestinian laborers

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Israel will make thousands of Palestinian laborers who work in Israel and the occupied West Bank area eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations, according to the Israeli government’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT).

COGAT officials told Reuters on Sunday that Palestinian medical teams would be put in place near checkpoints separating the West Bank from Israeli territory, where eligible Palestinians can receive Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine.

The Red Cross celebrated the initiative, telling Reuters in a statement that more must be done to improve access to vaccines in the Palestinian territories. Israel maintains strict control of the border between Israeli territories, Gaza and the West Bank, and has only let roughly 32,000 vaccines into the two Palestinian territories, which house more than 5.2 million people collectively.

“The Palestinian population remains, in the main, unprotected from COVID-19, and we would be glad to see more initiatives of this kind. We would like to see full, equitable access to vaccines for all Israelis and Palestinians,” said a Red Cross official.

That disparity has led to widespread criticism of Israel, which has otherwise received praise for the pace of its vaccination efforts. Human rights groups have argued that Israel is responsible for providing more vaccines in the occupied territories under its obligations resulting from the Geneva Convention.

Palestinian officials in the West Bank issued new lockdown measures this weekend as the territory faces a surge of COVID-19 infections while Israeli officials continue to vaccinate the country’s larger population.


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