Israel has approved plans to offer COVID-19 vaccines to Palestinians, but only those with Israeli work permits.
The Palestinians have received relatively few doses to date and lag far behind Israel, which has vaccinated over one-third of its population in one of the world’s fastest rollouts.
Now Israel says it will offer Moderna vaccines to the roughly 130,000 Palestinians who work in Israel or its West Bank settlements.
The workers have mixed feelings:
“The whole world is taking the vaccine. This a new and good step from the Israelis to vaccinate the Palestinian workers, because there is daily contact between us and the Israeli workers. So according to me, this is a very good thing, and they should take it.”
“It would be preferable if everyone got vaccinated, it would be preferable if everyone got vaccinated because on our side, there is a vaccine, there will be a vaccine. Without the vaccine, it will be impossible to go through checkpoints.”
Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine Director at Human Rights Watch, said that Israel was bound by international law to vaccinate Palestinians living under its effective control.
“Vaccinating only Palestinians that come in contact with Israelis, and not all Palestinians living under effective Israel rule under occupation reinforces that, to Israeli authorities, Palestinian lives only matter to the extent they impact Jewish lives.”
Israel captured the West Bank, along with East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, in the 1967 Middle East war.
It counts East Jerusalem Palestinians as part of its population and has offered them vaccines.
But it argues that under the Oslo peace accords, the Palestinian Authority is responsible for vaccination in Gaza and parts of the West Bank where it has limited self-rule.
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