News is currently circulating that Palestinians are excluded from COVID vaccine programs in Israel. Currently, Israel is being hailed as one of the most fast-paced in vaccine administration in the world. The Israeli Prime Minister has promised the nation that they will do their best to be the first to “rise from the pandemic”. But what is truly happening in Israel’s COVID vaccination programs?
Ambitious and fast-paced vaccine programs
Israel’s record-breaking target of more than 150,000 daily vaccine doses may be ambitious but it is impressive. Statistically, the country may be leaving behind its Western counterparts when it comes to the number of vaccine doses being administered per day. To make sure that their targets are met, the Israeli government has set up vaccine centers in every nook of the country. There are vaccination stations in plazas and stadiums. While their priorities lie in healthcare workers, the elderly, and other high-risk populations, healthier members of the community are given a chance to wait up for surplus stocks. This is to ensure that every vial of the vaccine does not go to waste.
Excluding Palestinians in COVID vaccine programs?
Palestinian territories, particularly West Bank and the Gaza strip, have been reported to have fallen behind Israel’s vaccine programs. There is some gray area here, for many of those who are unfamiliar. West Bank and the Gaza strip is under the governance of the Palestinian Authority (PA). This is a semi-official, self-governing authority giving partial civil control over the area. This means that the PA is semi-officially autonomous from the Israeli government. They may run their territories based on a specific set of agreements called the Oslo Accords of the 1990s. Healthcare, among others, is one of the primary responsibilities of the PA over its residents.
Over the past few days, the Israeli government has been receiving backlash regarding this matter. Human rights groups exclaim that this is a clear power play from the Israeli government. Government officials from Israel have said that they may provide surplus vaccine doses to the PA. Nonetheless, the PA has not asked Israel directly for help yet regarding this matter. This may be an adverse effect of the Palestinian president’s decision to cut off security ties with Israel late last year.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has ensured that they will be donating Palestinians doses of COVID vaccine to at least 20% of their residents. However, Palestinians may have to wait months for a go signal from the WHO. There are dangers to this, however. Israel may be targeting some “normalization” and herd immunity in the first few months of 2021. However, this may prove unsuccessful if the Palestinian territories remain virus-stricken. Many residents from West Bank and the Gaza strip go to Israel for work and this will surely affect the presence of COVID-19 in the country.