Israel Transfers COVID-19 Vaccines to PA, PA Denies ItEdit
Jerusalem, 1 February, 2021 (TPS) -- By: Aryeh Savir and Baruch Yedid/TPS
Israel transferred 2,000 vaccine doses to the Palestinian Authority (PA) on Monday, the first batch of a total of 5,000 doses.
The Israeli government approved the transfer on Friday, in accordance with the recommendations of the Minister of Defense and the IDF’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT).
The Moderna-developed vaccines were delivered on Monday at the Beituniya crossing.
The vaccinations are intended for the PA’s medical staff and health workers. Some of them may be passed on to the Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Israel transferred 100 vaccines to the PA last month.
PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh stated Monday his government expects to get 50,000 vaccine from different sources, mainly from the United Nations’ COVAX, and the vaccinating of the PA population will start in the middle of this month.
The first batch of vaccines the government has ordered and paid for is supposed to arrive by the end of this month, he said.
He failed to mention the batch from Israel his government received as he was making the announcement.
The PA is expected to receive the Russian-developed Sputnik V vaccine. Russia donated 5,000 units.
The Authority has also approved the purchase of vaccines from AstraZeneca.
Despite the transfer of the vaccines this morning, the PA’s Ministry of Health denied accepting them, in a move that caused embarrassment among PA officials who found it difficult to explain the denial in light of photos taken at the Beituniya checkpoint of the transfer of the vaccines, a denial that led to the mocking of the PA on social media. Arab-language media sites reported on the transfer of the vaccines, and officials in Ramallah told TPS that the official denial was an embarrassing move while some called the Ministry of Health “liars.”
Osama al-Najjar, director of medical services at the PA’s Ministry of Health, issued a denial on Sunday night when he stated that the PA “does not know about the transmission of vaccines and we are not aware of anything in this matter,” adding that “the Ministry of Health or any other Palestinian body has not received vaccine doses against the corona from Israel.”
Najjar claimed that the publication of the news on the transfer of the vaccines indicates that “Israel is under international pressure and therefore is interested in publishing this news to ease the pressure on itself, as international institutions and human rights organizations are pressuring Israel to allow vaccines to enter the PA.”
In the meantime, Chairman of Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, MK Zvi Hauser, dispatched a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister of Defense Benny Gantz warning against the transfer of the vaccines to Hamas.
“Given the reciprocal relationship between the Palestinian Authority and the Gaza Strip, there is concern that some of these vaccines will be transmitted directly or indirectly to the leaders of the Hamas terrorist organization,” he wrote.
Hauser emphasized that the Israeli government has “a duty to ensure in advance and with the means at its disposal” that the vaccines transferred from Israel remain within the PA, and do not “fall into the hands” of Hamas in Gaza. As a condition for a humanitarian gesture on vaccines in the Gaza Strip.
The government must “establish a new equation with Hamas based on humanitarian reciprocity,” and its essence is to return the bodies of the two fallen IDF soldiers and abducted Israeli civilians held by Hamas as a condition for a humanitarian gesture on the issue of vaccines in the Gaza Strip,” he demanded.
“The mind does not tolerate a situation in which Hamas leaders will be vaccinated with a vaccine originating in Israel while its citizens and the bodies of its fallen soldiers remain in Gaza,” he wrote.