Israel: The Palestinian Authority said it expects to receive its first COVID-19 vaccine dose in March with drugmaker AstraZeneca and accused Israel of ensuring that vaccines are available in the occupied area for duty.
While Israel has already become a world leader in per capita vaccination, Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip are yet to secure their first supplies.
Palestinian general director of public health Yasser Bozeh told Reuters that in addition to reaching an agreement in principle with AstraZeneca, Palestinians also sought supplies from Modern, Johnson & Johnson and Russia, which have developed the Sputnik V vaccine.
Supplies will also come through the World Health Organization vaccine program for poor and middle-income nations.
AstraZeneca did not respond to an email request from Reuters for further comment.
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry told in a statement that Israel “ignored its duties as an authority and racially discriminated against the Palestinian people, denying them their right to healthcare.”
He added, “Israel has not exempted Israel from its responsibilities to the Palestinian people in providing vaccines to protect vaccines from various sources by the Palestinian leadership.”
Under the Interim Peace Agreement with Israel, the Palestinian Authority exercises limited self-governance in the West Bank. Hamas Islamists run the Gaza Strip.
Israel’s immunization program includes Arab citizens of the country and Palestinian citizen of East Jerusalem.
On the West Bank, it has given COVID-19 vaccines to Israeli residents, but not Palestinian peopel, who get health services from the Palestinian Authority.
Like Amnesty International, human rights organizations say Israel has a lawful obligation to give vaccines for Palestinians under occupation. Israeli officials say they can share the vaccine with Palestinians after Israel meets their needs.
On Sunday, a WHO official said the organization had an “informal discussion” with Israel over-allocating some supplies to Palestinians to vaccinate health workers. Gerald Rockshenchab, head of the WHO office in the Palestinian territories, said Israel indicated it would seek an alternative.