On Monday, March 1 at 19:30 GMT:
Israel is tentatively re-opening its economy after vaccinating more than half its population against coronavirus. But the vast majority of Palestinians living under Israel’s illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza still face a long wait before they are inoculated.
In recent weeks the Palestinian Authority has announced deals with four vaccine providers, including AstraZeneca and the manufacturers of Russia’s Sputnik V. But with mass deliveries of vaccine not expected to ramp up until at least March, authorities in the West Bank and Gaza now face a protracted battle to protect more than 4.5 million Palestinians from a virus that has already killed more than 2,000 people.
Vaccinations of Palestinian front-line medical workers in the occupied West Bank began on February 2, after delivery began of a pledged 5,000 Moderna vaccine doses from Israel. The Israeli donation came after United Nations envoys and international and Palestinian human rights groups urged Israel to provide vaccines to West Bank Palestinians living under occupation, as well as Gazans enduring a Israeli-Egyptian land, sea and air blockade that has been in place since 2007.
But while rights groups argue Israel has a duty under the Fourth Geneva Convention to provide essential healthcare to those living in the lands it is occupying, the Israeli government contends that the mass vaccination of Palestinians falls squarely to the Palestinian Authority under the Oslo Accords, a mid-1990s interim agreement that failed to bring a lasting political settlement and Palestinian self-determination.
As vaccination efforts also slowly begin in Gaza following Israeli delays in cross-border delivery, a new World Bank report says there is a $30m funding gap that imperils efforts to inoculate 60 percent of Palestinians in the Occupied Territory, a baseline for herd immunity. And with a mere trickle of vaccine doses so far reaching to the West Bank and Gaza, widespread coronavirus disease and the associated restrictions on movement and economic tumult it brings will remain a fact of life for Palestinians for months to come.
In this episode of The Stream, we’ll look at how people in Gaza and the West Bank are faring amid the pandemic and what is most urgently needed to tackle a continuing public health crisis.