VIDEO: First Palestinians get jabs as Israel rolls out West Bank vaccines
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VIDEO: First Palestinians get jabs as Israel rolls out West Bank vaccines

The first workers from the West Bank were inoculated as they crossed into Israel for work

Michael Daventry is foreign editor of Jewish News

Israel has begun offering vaccines to Palestinians following weeks of criticism that its sweeping inoculation programme excluded the West Bank and Gaza.

On Monday the first workers crossing into Israel from the West Bank were offered doses of the Moderna vaccine by paramedics from Magen David Adom.

It follows a longstanding debate over whether Israel is responsible, as the occupying force, for providing coronavirus vaccines to people living in West Bank.

More than 3.7 million Israelis — over two-fifths of the population — have received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

Israel says healthcare was devolved to the Palestinian local government officials under the Oslo Accords, the interim peace deals reached in the 1990s.

But the Palestinian Authority has so far only acquired enough doses for 6,000 people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which are home to five million Palestinians.

A Palestinian worker receives a shot of the Moderna vaccine from an Israeli paramedic (Photo: Magen David Adom)

Magen David Adom said around 700 Palestinians who live in the West Bank but work in Israel were offered vaccinations at Ephraim Gate, the crossing east of Netanya.

The inoculation programme is organised by COGAT, the Israeli military agency that coordinates government operations in the West Bank.

Speaking ahead of the rollout, Magen David Adom director general Eli Bin said: “I have no doubt that the cooperation between MDA, the Ministry of Health, the IDF, the Border Authority, the contractors, and the employers will lead to a high response from the workers to get vaccinated and we hope that this is another step in getting out of the corona crisis and returning the economy to full activity.”

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