Israel clears way for COVID vaccines to Palestinians in West Bank, Gaza

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Israel has allowed 5,000 doses of the Russian Sputnik vaccine against coronavirus to be delivered to the Palestinian Authority for use by medical staff in the West Bank and Gaza.

The government stated on Thursday morning that the Palestinian Authority Health Ministry said the Russian vaccines were meant for Gaza as well as the West Bank, and it is still unknown when they will arrive. Palestinian officials have said they expect the doses by the weekend.

“The doses of the Sputnik 5 coronavirus vaccine are from a donation from the Russian government [and] are expected to arrive to the PA through the Allenby Crossing,” between Israel and Jordan, the statement reads. “The PA committed…not to provide the vaccines to anyone other than Palestinian health workers in the Judea and Samaria region and in Gaza.”

However, the Israeli statement added that the PA has yet to ask the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories to transfer doses of the vaccine to Gaza. If such a request is made, COGAT and the Health Ministry plan to ask the higher political levels – meaning the Prime Minister’s Office – to give instructions on the matter.

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An official with knowledge of the matter said the Prime Minister’s Office allowed the Palestinians to import the vaccines, without getting into the specifics of where they will be administered.

The government statement came in response to a petition to the High Court of Justice from Leah and Simcha Goldin, whose son Hadar’s body has been held by Hamas since 2014, along with that of Oron Shaul, who were killed by Hamas terrorists breaking a ceasefire in Operation Protective Edge. Hamas also holds civilians Abera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed captive.

The Goldins have called for the courts to block any transfer of people, goods or coronavirus vaccines to and from Gaza, beyond the minimum requirement of international law, until the Israelis are released.

They accused Netanyahu of “making the decision…to authorize the transfer of hundreds of vaccines to Hamas in Gaza. Israel will transfer the vaccines without any supervision or commitment for them to be used only for humanitarian reasons.”

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“Unfortunately, instead of fulfilling its commitment to bring the soldiers and civilians home, the Government of Israel continues to deceive the public,” the Goldins stated. “Whoever transfers vaccines to the Hamas terrorist organization and does not demand the return of IDF soldiers has lost his sense of judgment.”

The Goldins also accused the government of saying the matter is diplomatic “in order to escape criticism,” which “sends a message to the citizens of Israel that the blood of IDF soldiers is cheap.”

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