The Gaza Strip began their coronavirus vaccination campaign Monday after the first vaccines arrived at the enclave controlled by the Hamas terrorist group.
Former health ministers and several medical staff were admitted to Russia’s Sputnik V injection in front of dozens of cameras. More medical staff and patients with chronic illnesses are starting to receive injections Tuesday.
The inoculation campaign “will lead to increased immunity among the population and further prevent the spread of the pandemic,” said Ashraf al-Qidra, a Hamas-run Ministry of Health.
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The enclave has received just 22,000 doses of vaccines, a small fraction of what is needed to give the vaccine to the two million people, about 1.4 million of whom are over 18 years old.
The shortage of vaccines on both the Gaza Strip and on the West Bank is very different from Israel, which is on track to get vaccinated by almost all adults in the coming weeks. Already, about a third of 9.3 million Israelis have received two doses of the Pfizer-BionTech vaccine.
Israel has offered vaccines to its citizens, citizens and Arabs alike, as well as Palestinian residents in East Jerusalem. But critics have failed the Jewish state for failing to vaccinate the estimated five million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip and on the West Bank.
Critics of Israeli vaccination policy point to the Fourth Geneva Convention, which says ownership power is needed to give vaccines to residents of the areas under its control.
Israel notes that it has withdrawn from Gaza, although it will maintain a blockade on the land, which they say is essential for its security. The Hamas terrorist group, which rules Gaza, is committed to the destruction of the Jewish state.
Israel also rejects the claim that he lives on the West Bank, saying the areas he has ruled since 1967 are “under controversy,” rather than occupied. Thus, Jerusalem never assumed the applicability of that international law to the territories.
The government cites the 1995 Oslo Accords, which states that the Palestinian Authority is responsible for Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza, while both sides work together to combat pandemics.
The Palestinian Authority has been struggling to get vaccines, receiving just 2,000 doses from Israel for West Bank medical workers and an additional 10,000 doses from Russia. Last week, 2,000 Russian vaccines were transferred to Gaza.
Ramallah is expected to receive most of the vaccines received by the PA, while others will go directly from Israeli ports to Gaza, World Health Organization ambassador Gerald Rockenschaub told The Times of Israel on Monday.
On Sunday, Mohammad Dahlan, rival of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, arranged for 20,000 Russian vaccines to be sent to Gaza from the United Arab Emirates in a seemingly insulting move. presented to the Palestinian leader ahead of the May elections.
Gaza has been under Israeli-Egyptian blockade since 2007 when Hamas ousted its rival Fatah after a bloody struggle for control of the coastal frontier. Israel says this is necessary to prevent Hamas from importing arms. Hamas, desperately seeking the destruction of Israel, has fought three wars with Israel, along with dozens of smaller fire exchanges.
The two Palestinian rival groups have pledged coordination on the circulation of the coronavirus vaccine in Gaza, and Hamas expects most of their vaccines to come from the PA.
Al-Qidra, citing the Ministry of Health, said it expected more vaccines to arrive in Gaza in the coming days.
Gaza health authorities have reported more than 54,000 coronavirus infections and 543 deaths.