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Two months into its mass coronavirus vaccination campaign, Israel sees a drop in COVID infections and in the number of severe cases. Israel exited its third nationwide lockdown, but some restrictions remains on inbound and outbound flights. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, 5,922 Israelis have died of the virus.
Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have received 30,000 doses of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, and 2,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine donated by Israel. It may take a while still for a mass vaccination campaign to get under way in the Palestinian territories. A total of 1,827 people have died of COVID in the West Bank, while 560 have died in Gaza.
6:45 P.M. 18,000 Palestinians with work permits vaccinated by Israel so far, rescue service says
Israel began vaccinations inside West Bank settlements for Palestinians authorized to work in Israel or in Israeli settlements on Tuesday, according to the Magen David Adom rescue service.
The vaccination of Palestinians with such authorization began Monday at a number of checkpoints before being extended to sites within settlements.
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Eighteen thousand Palestinians with work permits have been vaccinated, Magen David Adom said, and the vaccinations in the West Bank will continue until March 18. (Haaretz)
6:41 P.M. Palestinians without legal residency status to be vaccinated
Palestinians who are living in Israel without legal residency may receive the coronavirus vaccine, the Health Ministry told Physicians for Human Rights on Tuesday.
The group, which Physicians for Human Rights estimates number in the thousands, comprises of Palestinians in many different situations: at-risk groups such as suspected collaborators with Israel and those who left the Palestinian territories because of their sexuality, as well as Palestinians who lack legal residency status but whose “center of life” is in Israel because of marriage. (Jack Khoury)
6:01 P.M. High Court criticizes law to disclose data on unvaccinated citizens to authorities
Israel’s High Court discussed Tuesday a petition filed against legislation that would permit the transfer of details of unvaccinated citizens to the Education and Welfare Ministries.
Several justices, including Supreme Court President Esther Hayut, criticized the law and questioned its effectiveness. “One hour has already passed, and I still don’t understand the use of the law,” said Justice Esther Hayut. (Netael Bandel)
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2:02 P.M. Palestinian PM says arrival of more vaccines might be delayed
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh warned that the arrival of additional coronavirus vaccines to the West Bank might be delayed and called on the World Health Organization and 'friendly countries' to speed up the process.
The Palestinian Authority hopes to get the vaccines in the coming weeks through a WHO program known as COVAX, which aims to procure vaccines for needy countries but has been slow to get off the ground.
Shtayyeh said that most hospitals in the West Bank have surpassed their full capacity, which led the Palestinian government to take harsh measures, including lockdowns and closures.
So far, Israel has delivered 2,000 of a promised 5,000 vaccine doses to the Palestinian Authority, destined for healthcare workers. (Jack Khoury)
1:04 P.M. As COVID vaccination drive reaches 5-million milestone, Israel targets missing 1.3 million
Israel reached on Monday the landmark figure of 5 million vaccinated with their first dose against coronavirus, around 54 percent of the population, less than three months after its pioneering vaccine drive began.
Out of the five million, around three and a half million people, 39 percent of Israel’s population, have been inoculated with both jabs, and have therefore received the so-called "green pass" – a document issued one week after the second dose of the vaccine allowing the recipient to access venues such as theaters and gyms.
Over 98 percent who received the first dose have received their second dose within 25 days of the first injection, but 1.9 percent have refused to get the second dose without justification.
Despite the high rates of vaccination in Israel, and the declining rate of infection and seriously ill patients, the Health Ministry is wielding the promise of a return to normality to push more Israelis to its vaccination centers. The remaining 1.3 million individuals, including 11 percent of Israelis over 50 – some 280,000 people – are now the priority. (Ido Efrati)
10:40 A.M. Israel sees decline in COVID spread, number of seriously ill patients
The COVID-19 infection rate known as the R number – the average number of people each coronavirus carrier infects – has decreased and currently stands at 0.95, data released by Israel's Health Ministry shows.
Furthermore, the number of coronavirus patients hospitalized in serious condition has declined and stands at 668.
On Sunday, 3,662 new cases were diagnosed. So far, 4,995,253 Israelis have received the first dose of the vaccine and 5,922 have died from the virus. (Ido Efrati)
9:13 Top court hears petition against legislation to disclose names of unvaccinated to authorities
Israel's High Court of Justice is set to hear a petition against legislation that would disclose the names of citizens who have not yet been vaccinated to local authorities as well as the education and welfare ministries.
The petition was filed last week by Physicians for Human Rights and Association of Civil Rights. The panel of judges hearing the petition will include Supreme Court President Esther Hayut and Justices Hanan Melcer and Neal Hendel.
The petition says that the declared aim of the legislation –encouraging vaccination – is a worthy cause, but that the "extreme and disproportionate" measure was "passed hastily under a flawed process.”
The Knesset approved the law In February, raising privacy concerns.
Under the law, the Health Ministry will be permitted to share names, ID numbers, addresses, and phone numbers of unvaccinated Israelis with the authorities. (Netael Bandel)
9:30 P.M. Hadassah Hospitals in Israel furloughed 80 employees who have refrained from getting vaccinated
Hadassah Hospitals in Israel has in recent days furloughed 80 employees, including doctors, nurses and other staff members, who have refrained from getting vaccinated against the coronavirus.
The hospitals' exceptions committee did not approve these instances of non-vaccination and no alternative positions were found for these employees, according to Hadassah's management.
There are currently roughly 6,500 employees who work for the Hadassah Hospitals network and the hospitals' management has noted that the average immunization rate is roughly 93%, the highest among hospitals in Israel. (Ido Efrati)
7:50 P.M. 'If the guidelines are observed, we can celebrate Passover together,' says Israel’s Health Minister
Whether and to what extent to which the Israeli economy will continue to open depends on whether a few hundred thousand more get vaccinated and how well the country complies with social distancing, mask and green passport guidelines, said Health Minister Yuli Edelstein on Monday at an event in Tel Aviv commemorating Israel’s having reached the 5 million vaccinated milestone.
Edelstein also shared that he was surprised that 5 million people got out and get vaccinated and effusively praised the vaccines: “Thanks to these vaccines, we can open almost everything: the economy, culture, sports, leisure, tourism.” (Ido Efrati)
5 P.M. Israel’s Central Elections Committee to fund transportation to the polls for tens of thousands of coronavirus patients
Israel’s Central Elections Committee will fund transportation to the polls for coronavirus patients at an estimated cost of 20 million shekels ($6 million), the committee’s director general, Orly Adas, announced on Monday.
The announcement came on the heels of approval by the Knesset Economic Affairs Committee of special funding for the Central Election Committee: roughly 674 million shekels, of which 237 million shekels will be used to deal with the special arrangements necessary due to the coronavirus pandemic to hold the upcoming March 23 Knesset election. (Jonathan Lis)
2:21 P.M. Israel begins vaccinating Palestinian workers against COVID
Israel began vaccinating Palestinian workers on Monday.
The campaign was scheduled to begin Sunday, but was postponed last week after a government decision changed its funding source to an unapproved inter-ministerial budget.
The vaccine drive began at eight crossings between Israel and the West Bank, and on Tuesday will be expanded to industrial zones in Jewish settlements.
Only Palestinian workers who have permits to enter and work in Israel will be eligible for a vaccine. (Nir Hasson)