(File/AFP)

Palestinians left waiting for vaccine

Vaccination will include Israelis living in the Jewish-only settlements in the occupied West Bank, and would exclude over five million Palestinians living under Israeli rule.

By Yara Younes

Israel will begin vaccinating 60,000 Israeli’s a day according to The Associate Press, including Israeli-Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank, while millions of Palestinians living under the occupation will be forced to wait.

The Palestinian Authority has reported over 85,000 cases in the West Bank, while Gaza reported over 30,000 cases — Gaza has a population of two million Palestinians and has been under an illegal blockade for 14 years.

Access to medicine, protective gear, masks, goods, and people in Gaza is controlled by Israel.

“Currently, 32% of essential medicines and 62% of laboratory drugs are not available in Gaza,” said Euro-Med Monitor.

The Pfizer serum needs to be shipped and stored at a minus-94 degrees, a cold chain unavailable in Gaza, where electricity is available only six to eight hours a day.

Palestinians have only one refrigerator able to store the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in the town of Jericho.

“Israel bears moral and humanitarian responsibility for vaccinating the Palestinian population under its control,” said Physicians for Human Rights in an appeal to Israeli leaders.

The PA hopes to get the vaccine through a World Health Organization partnership with a humanitarian organization known as COVAX, which aims to provide vaccines for up to 20 percent of the population of poor countries.

“We just do not have the technical capabilities for that,” said Ali Abd Rabbo, director of the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza. “We have held sessions with the Israeli side in this regard, but until this moment there is no agreement.”

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