On Sunday, a statement was made by the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories. According to it, the Cabinet has given its approval for extending the COVID-19 vaccination campaign in the country to Palestinian laborers who are working in the West Bank settlements and Israel. Estimates indicate that there are around 100,000 Palestinians who hold a permit, which allows them to work within Israel, along with the settlements. The statement said that the inoculation campaign would be initiated in the coming days, but it did not disclose the number of vaccine doses that had been allocated for this purpose.
The statement highlighted that vaccination centers would be set up at West Bank crossings for Palestinians who are working in Israel. As far as laborers who are working in Jewish settlements are concerned, their vaccination centers would be established in industrial zones throughout the West Bank. It also clarified that the vaccines would be administered by the Israeli medical staff, which were developed by Moderna. Physician for Human Rights Israel’s executive director, Ran Goldstein, stated that the decision to vaccinate the Palestinian workers was a necessary and essential move and it was a good thing they were getting it done.
He also asserted that Israel was ethically and legally obligated to organize a vaccination campaign for the whole of the Palestinian population. The director said that interests and considerations of health should take priority over other considerations, which means that everyone should be inoculated in areas that fall under the rule of Israel. Two weeks ago, the Palestinian Health Ministry had announced that Israel was planning on vaccinating 100,000 Palestinian workers in the country after a meeting had been conducted between the health officials of Israel and Palestine. According to the numbers, approximately 30,000 workers have chosen to sleep in Israel every day.
This move was made in order to prevent the spread of the infection due to the movement of people between the West Bank and Israel. However, it has been estimated by some officials that a lot of workers do go back to the West Bank illegally. The Palestinian Authority also reached out to Israel to ensure that all vehicles in use by their Health Ministry were permitted to move freely in the West Bank. This was particularly applicable to the area in the South Hebron Hills, which is known as Masafer Yatta. As per Palestinians, the movements of the health workers have been obstructed by Israel in this rea.
Earlier this month, the Palestinian Authority was also provided with about 2,000 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine by Israel. The goal was to help them get started with vaccinating medical workers. The Palestinian Authority also disclosed that they had also acquired 10,000 doses independently of the Sputnik V vaccine.
The latest announcement by the Cabinet comes after there was criticism over Israel sending COVID-19 vaccines to its allies abroad while thousands of Palestinians are still waiting to get vaccinated and don’t have access to it.