Israel allows first 1,000 coronavirus vaccines to enter Gaza

Jerusalem, Feb 17 (efe-epa).- Israel permitted the entry of an initial batch of 1,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine into the Gaza Strip from the West Bank on Wednesday, an Israeli security official confirmed to Efe Wednesday, after the country had delayed the transfer earlier this week.

“The shipment of the vaccines is on the way to the Strip,” said the source.

Israel authorized permission for the shipment after the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority (PA) made a request on Monday to send 2,000 doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine to Gaza.

The 2,000 vaccine doses intended for Gaza are part of the 10,000 Sputnik V vaccine jabs donated by Russia to the West Bank, but Israel delayed permits as several lawmakers argued the transfer should be made in exchange for releasing two captured Israeli civilians and the remains of two soldiers killed in the 2014 Gaza war.

Israeli NGOs accused Israel of failing to comply with its legal obligations and described the delay of the vaccine delivery as “collective punishment.”

The shots are set to be administered to health care workers in the coastal enclave, under the de facto rule of the Islamist Hamas movement since Israel imposed a blockade of Gaza in 2007.

The United Nations’ special coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Tor Wennesland, had previously urged the Israeli government to support Covid-19 vaccine availability to Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territories “in line with Israel’s obligations under international law.”

Gaza has recorded 55,000 coronavirus cases so far, with 538 deaths. EFE-EPA


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