Israel faced international criticism on their refusal to vaccine Palestinians – now, the country will begin rolling out Pfizer shots to some Palestinians who have work permits
Israel has currently inoculated over 50% of its population. The state currently leads global vaccination efforts due to a contract with Pfizer and BioNTech, that agrees unlimited doses in exchange for full access to population data.
Until Sunday, Palestine expected 5,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine from the Israeli Government and only for healthcare workers at high risk in the area.
Currently, Palestine has received around 10,000 doses from Russia. Israel has delivered 2,200 and Palestinian authorities are waiting on a further delivery of 3,000.
Yesterday (28 February), Israel promised to give Palestinians with permits to work in Israel a vaccination. This would impact roughly 110,000 people. These workers are largely in a manual labour role, with construction and farming as key sectors.
‘Nothing can justify today’s reality’
“Nothing can justify today’s reality in parts of the West Bank, where people on one side of the street are receiving vaccines, while those on the other do not, based on whether they’re Jewish or Palestinian,” explained Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch.
An increasing force of international criticism about vaccination allocation decisions has led to Israel making a new promise. While human rights groups pointed out the responsibility that Israel has over occupied territory, the country begun to give out unused vaccines to other countries.
What about leftover vaccines in Israel?
Israel now has a surplus of vaccines, including the high-performing Moderna shots.
According to the Bloomberg COVID resilience rankings, existing vaccine contracts cover 138% of the Israeli population. This means more than enough vaccines will be available, which is similar to other countries in the Northern Hemisphere – like the UK, at 302% and France at 183%.
The country is giving these to various countries, such as the Czech Republic and Honduras who are due to receive 5,000 each. Hungary and Guatemala are expected to receive a similar amount of vaccines.
Each one of these countries has indirectly accepted Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Saleh Higazi, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director, said: “Israeli authorities must ensure that vaccines are equally provided to the Palestinians living under their control, in order to meet their obligations under international law.”