Despite the positive press Israel has received worldwide on its roll out of the vaccination programme and its handling of the pandemic, there was a recent “blip” when Israel was condemned for not supplying the Palestinians with the jab.
We all know that the Oslo Accords signed in 1993 made it clear, that the Palestinians, at their own request, would take care of their own medical needs and concerns. Therefore the Palestinian Authority was entirely responsible for their own autonomous areas and their own people.
Initially, the Palestinians refused any assistance from Israel. But more importantly, they never once requested help. In fact, the Palestinian Authority made a deal with the Russians to purchase the Sputnik vaccine.
But journalists, bloggers and anti-Israel folk all over the world jumped at the opportunity to condemn Israel for its “systematic, apartheid, racist policies of not looking after the Palestinians in the occupied territories”.
Few people however were unaware that around a hundred vaccines were initially given in early January to the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, who promptly used them to vaccinate their senior leadership, including of course, President Mahmoud Abbas.
Little attention has also been given this week to Israel’s decision to approve coronavirus vaccinations for Palestinians, who work in Israel and in the settlements of Judea and Samaria. It was reported that around 110,000 Palestinian workers are expected to receive the jab in the coming days and weeks.
Israeli medical personnel will administer the Moderna vaccine, at special vaccination sites set up at border crossings and industrial zones in Judea and Samaria. But I can see how this positive development of Palestinian workers receiving the vaccine at Israel’s expense, can be turned into something very negative.
Those journalists who wish to “stick it to Israel”, could easily establish a narrative that reads, “Israelis view Palestinians as the virus and as variants and inject them with an unknown substance at border crossings.” This is what is being written on social media, by some of the most vicious and venomous haters of Israel and the Jewish people.
Meanwhile, the plan to ship surplus coronavirus vaccines, to a group of friendly nations around the world has now been halted, as authorities examine whether Prime Minister Netanyahu had the authority to authorise this.
The Justice Ministry (Blue and White) announced it had put a freeze on the plan that would have seen up to 100,000 vaccine doses sent to over a dozen countries around the world, including Italy, Czech Republic and several countries that have recently established new ties with Israel. It was Defence Minister Benny Gantz who contacted the Attorney General, asking him whether it was legal to export vaccines that were meant for Israelis.
The truth is according to figures released from the Health Ministry, around 1500 people a day are still being diagnosed with Covid 19. There are more than 40,000 active Covid cases in the country and almost 1000 are in serious condition.
The death rate from the current pandemic has now reached almost 5800 people. 4.7 million Israelis have received the vaccine, including almost 3.4 million who have received both jabs.
Another 775,000 Israelis have recovered from Covid. Over 1.5 million Israelis over the age of 16 have not been vaccinated and experts say over 10% of the 9.3 million Israeli citizens, say they are not planning to get vaccinated.
Israel’s Coronavirus coordinator Professor Na’aman Ash said, parties over the Purim holiday (which include both religious and secular communities) spread the coronavirus and the transmission rate is now back up to nearly one.
Ash said “There was a massive disregard for health ministry regulations”, and this is deeply worrying as it makes it difficult to reopen the economy even further.
Regarding the death of another foetus, apparently from coronavirus, Ash believes this was linked to the British variant of Covid 19. He added there were around 10 pregnant women currently hospitalised in serious condition, which means that pregnant women should be vaccinated.
The Covid war is far from over and it is unlikely that tourists will be able to visit Israel for the Pesach holidays.