In recent news, the Palestinian Authority (PA) rejected the coronavirus vaccines that were delivered by the State of Israel. The reason behind the former sending them back was the expiration date of the doses, which the Health Ministry in Israel claimed were perfectly safe to use.
On Friday, the PA and the Jewish state revealed that they have made a vaccine swap deal. According to this agreement, the State of Israel will deliver around 1.4 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine to inoculate the citizens of Palestine. In return, the PA will send over a reciprocal number of jabs, later in the year. The deal made pertained only to the vaccine produced jointly by BioNTech and Pfizer.
However, soon after the announcement of the deal was made, the PA declared that it was canceling the deal. It also sent back the initial shipment that it had received of more than 90,000 doses. The Health Minister of the Palestinian Authority, Mai Alkaila, further informed that the expiration date that had previously been agreed on was July and August. But the shipment received would have expired in June alone.
The office of the Prime Minister of the State of Israel, Naftali Bennet, did not immediately make a comment regarding the return of the shipment. Later on, however, the Health Ministry of the country claimed that the vaccines delivered to the PA had been in perfect order. It went on to say that the dates had been known by, and agreed to, by both the sides involved.
As per the statement released by the Health Ministry, the vaccines that were delivered to Palestine are identical to those being administered to the citizens in the State of Israel.
Around 30% of the Palestinians, who are eligible for the jab in the Gaza and the West Bank, have been given at least the first dose of the vaccine. This was made possible through various shipments of the doses supplied by Russia, Israel, China, as well as the United Arab Emirates. Vaccines were also provided to the PA under the worldwide vaccine-sharing initiative, COVAX.
Many citizens of Palestine took to social media to criticize their leaders for taking in doses, which were near their expiry date. They were simply outraged by the deal made on Friday.
Various rights groups also took to criticizing the authorities in Israel, which had been the leader of the one the swiftest vaccination campaigns across the globe, for sending out near-expiry vaccinations. They were also called out for not making enough efforts to ensure that the citizens of Palestine in Gaza and West Bank were given untethered access to the vaccines. However, officials argue that as per the Oslo peace accords, the Health Ministry of PA is responsible for ensuring that people in these two locations are vaccinated.
On the other hand, Palestinians residing in the area of East Jerusalem were included in the vaccination drive conducted by Israel and are covered by its healthcare providers.