Palestinians Go Into New Lockdown Whereas Awaiting Vaccines

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JERUSALEM — The Palestinian Authority on Saturday introduced a brand new set of lockdown restrictions within the West Financial institution as coronavirus infections surge and Palestinians await the rollout of a major vaccination program.

The transfer comes as Israel has secured ample provides of the vaccine for itself and raced forward with its personal inoculation program, outpacing the remainder of the world. The imbalance has added a brand new layer of friction to the longstanding Israeli-Palestinian battle and drawn scrutiny of Israel’s obligations within the occupied territories.

The lockdown restrictions, set to final for 12 days, embrace the closure of universities, nighttime curbs on journey and nonessential commerce, and a ban on gatherings for weddings, events and funerals.

The Palestinian minister of well being, Mai al-Kaila, stated on Saturday that 910 new circumstances and 5 deaths had been recorded within the West Financial institution within the earlier 24 hours. One other Palestinian, she added, had died within the Hamas-run Gaza Strip after contracting Covid-19.

Three extra Palestinians from East Jerusalem, Ms. al-Kaila stated, had died of the illness in current days.

About 91 p.c of Palestinians contaminated by the illness since final March have recovered, Ms. al-Kaila stated. Over all, in keeping with the Palestinian Well being Ministry, there have been about 206,440 confirmed circumstances amongst Palestinians over the previous 12 months, together with about 24,500 in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem.

Israel’s vaccination program extends to all residents of East Jerusalem, however many Palestinians there have been reluctant to take the vaccine, partly, residents stated, due to low belief in Israeli authorities and a flood of unsubstantiated, damaging rumors in regards to the vaccine circulating on social media.

Israeli officers say the Palestinian Authority, which workouts restricted self-rule in components of the West Financial institution, assumed duty for well being providers in its areas of management when the interim peace agreements generally known as the Oslo Accords have been signed within the mid-Nineties.

Israel has vaccinated greater than half its inhabitants of 9.2 million with a primary dose, and greater than a 3rd with a second dose, however has thus far offered the Palestinian Authority with solely 2,000 vaccine doses and promised 3,000 extra. Greater than 2.5 million Palestinians stay within the West Financial institution, with an extra two million in Gaza.

Israeli officers have stated it’s of their curiosity to assist the Palestinians as soon as Israeli residents, together with a whole lot of hundreds of settlers within the West Financial institution, have been totally vaccinated. They’ve indicated that they could start vaccinating tens of hundreds of Palestinian laborers who routinely come to work inside Israel and that they could switch extra vaccine to the Palestinian Authority, however no particulars have been made obtainable.

Human rights advocates have argued that Israel ought to be vaccinating the Palestinian inhabitants in parallel with its personal residents. They cite the Fourth Geneva Conference, beneath which occupying powers are obligated to make sure the general public well being of individuals dwelling beneath occupation so far as attainable. An annex of the Oslo Accords additionally requires cooperation to fight epidemics.

The dispute has been aggravated by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s current foray into vaccine diplomacy, with pledges to ship hundreds of spare doses to allies from Hungary to Guatemala. That effort has been placed on maintain as Israel’s lawyer normal examines whether or not the decision-making went by means of correct channels.

To date, the Palestinians have acquired 10,000 doses from Russia of its Sputnik V vaccine, 2,000 of which have been transferred from the West Financial institution to Gaza. Final weekend, one other cargo of 20,000 Russian doses donated by the United Arab Emirates entered Gaza throughout the Egyptian border.

Palestinian officers anticipate to obtain 37,440 Pfizer doses and a whole lot of hundreds of AstraZeneca doses by means of the global-sharing initiative Covax someday in March. Further provides of AstraZeneca vaccine are anticipated as nicely.

Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh of the Palestinian Authority stated Saturday that international competitors was largely responsible for delays in a major vaccination rollout, however {that a} batch of vaccines have been anticipated to reach subsequent week, in keeping with Wafa, the official Palestinian information company.

Israel continues to be battling excessive an infection charges, regardless of its profitable vaccine rollout, and has imposed a nighttime ban on journey since Thursday in an effort to stop events over the Purim vacation.

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