Unlike Israel, Palestinians in the Occupied Territories have not been vaccinated. As a result, and due to the progress of infectious variants, the number of new infections has tripled in recent weeks. More than 20 percent of all tests have tested positive.
Prime Minister Shtayyeh said, to contain the outbreak, the Palestinian government decided to take “strict, immediate and unprecedented measures.” For example, traffic between different cities has been restricted, and there is a complete shutdown on weekends.
There are not enough vaccines
The Palestinian Prime Minister also called on the international community to provide vaccines. Last month, the Palestinian Authority expected a handover from Covax, an international initiative of the World Health Organization, among others. But those doses haven’t arrived yet.
Today, 40,000 vaccines from the United Arab Emirates arrived in the Gaza Strip. In total, the Palestinians have received more than 70,000 vaccines, also through donations from Russia and Israel. Its distribution sparked controversy, as not only were health workers vaccinated, but politicians and the people around them were vaccinated as well. The Palestinian soccer team also received an injection.
However, most Palestinians, including the elderly and at-risk groups, have not yet waited for the vaccine. Partly because of this, pressure has increased on Israel to vaccinate the entire Palestinian population in recent months. International organizations as well as Israeli health scientists are calling on the government to do so.
But according to the Israeli government, the vaccination program is the responsibility of the Palestinians themselves. Israel launched a campaign this week to vaccinate Palestinians working at the border. Workers who work in Israel or in Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories are demanding the vaccine, according to the authorities. There are over 100,000.
Dr. Khader hopes that more vaccines will arrive in the West Bank soon: “Especially for the elderly. Whatever vaccines we can get will reduce the number of patients.”
Since the beginning of the epidemic, more than 1,500 people have died in Corona in the West Bank. About three million Palestinians live in the area. In the Gaza Strip, which has a population of 2 million, at least 500 Palestinians have died from the virus.