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  • Palestinian women argue with Israeli soldiers during a protest in the west bank village of Al-Rakeez south of Hebron, Jan. 3, 2021.

    Palestinian women argue with Israeli soldiers during a protest in the west bank village of Al-Rakeez south of Hebron, Jan. 3, 2021. | Photo: EFE

Published 13 January 2021
Opinion

Five million Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza do not know when they will be vaccinated in those territories.

Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank continue to wait for the COVID-19 vaccines as Israel evades its humanitarian responsibilities in the territories under its military occupation.

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Unlike the Israeli authorities who vaccinated two million people in three weeks, the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) is still trying to get doses at affordable prices and will not administer them easily because of the precarious infrastructure available and the limitations imposed by the Israeli occupation.

Israel, which will become the first country in the world to get immunity, has not provided inputs to the Palestinian authorities and has evaded its duties under international law.

"Israel still has clear legal obligations to the welfare of the Palestinian population under its illegal occupation," Palestine's Foreign Affairs Ministry pointed out, accusing the Israeli authorities of having intensified mass arrests, house demolitions, and evictions since the beginning of the pandemic.

Only 350,000 Palestinians in East Jerusalem have access to the vaccine since that area of the city is annexed by Israel and imposes its civil laws. But five million Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza do not know when they will be vaccinated in those territories where the health systems are fragile and there are few medical resources.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian authorities, who would be negotiating with AstraZeneca to get some two million vaccines, reached an agreement to get the Russian Sputnik V vaccine in February.

They also requested help from the World Health Organization (WHO), which seeks to provide free vaccines through COVAX, a multilateral cooperation program not yet in operation.

The humanitarian NGO Gisha recalled that Israel must protect the health of all people living in territories under its control, a duty that encompasses covering the cost of distributing COVID-19 vaccines in the West Bank and Gaza.

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