Israel, which has already fully vaccinated 2.7 million of its citizens, has been facing a lot of criticism from Palestinian officials and human rights groups for refusing to expand its record immunization drive to the occupied territories in the West Bank and Gaza.
But the country’s authorities claimed that it wasn’t their responsibility, saying that the Palestinians could only get the vaccines from Israel if it has some spare doses after the immunization at home is complete. Last week, Palestinians started to get the vaccine – but only those who are legally working in Israel.
Thursday’s announcement by the health ministry that 120,000 doses of the US-made Moderna jab will be given to Palestinians was fully in line with that approach.
Israel received the shipment of the Moderna vaccine around two months ago, but refrained from putting it to use to avoid confusion among medics, who are accustomed to working with the Pfizer-BioNTech jab, local Walla news outlet reported. The course of both mRNA-type vaccines requires two shots, but they must be handled differently and stored at their specific temperatures.
So, the ministry decided it would administer the Moderna vaccine to some unique group. The IDF troops and prisoners were among those considered, but it eventually decided on the Palestinians, but only those with jobs inside Israel or at Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
There are currently some 120,000 Palestinians with Israeli work permits, according to government data, and the doses of the Moderna jab will allow around a half of them to be inoculated.