Israeli Lawmakers Divided Over Palestinian Request for COVID Vaccines

Palestinian Authority requests 1,000 vaccines for Gaza medical teams ■ Head of Knesset committee: Jabs will reach Hamas, not medics

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
A nurse administers the COVID-19 vaccine to a Palestinian at the Al-Mezan Hospital in Hebron, West Bank, yesterday
A nurse administers the COVID-19 vaccine to a Palestinian at the Al-Mezan Hospital in Hebron, West Bank, yesterdayCredit: HAZEM BADER / AFP
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

The Palestinian Authority has asked Israel to allow the transfer of 1,000 COVID vaccines to medical personnel in the Gaza Strip – out of some 10,000 Sputnik V vaccines Russia is expected to donate to the PA.

The request was debated by the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday, but no decision has been reached as of yet. The head of the committee, Zvi Hauser of New Hope and MK Michal Cotler-Wunsh of Kahol Lavan objected to the move, claiming the vaccines will end up in the hands of Hamas leaders rather than medical teams.

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Joint List lawmaker Ofer Cassif, in contrast, warned that "preventing medical treatment is a war crime, a violation of international law, and worse still – an inhumane position that harms every person."

The Palestinian Authority has signed a deal with AstraZeneca to purchase two million vaccines, 400,000 of which will be transferred to the West Bank between March and July.In addition, the PA is expected to receive some 37,000 Pfizer vaccines with the help of the World Health Organization.

The PA has already received 2,000 Moderna vaccines, out of 5,000 doses that Israel has agreed to transfer, a move approved by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz.

According to Col. Eyal Ze'evi, a Civil Administration representative, the World Health Organization is expected to provide vaccines for some 20 percent of the population in the West Bank and Gaza, and a shipment of some 37,000 Pfizer vaccines is scheduled to arrive in the coming weeks. Ze'evi stressed that the sole authority responsible for providing residents with vaccines is the Palestinian Authority.

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