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Palestinians Go Into New Lockdown Whereas Awaiting Vaccines

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 big 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 rest 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, embody 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, mentioned on Saturday that 910 new instances 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 mentioned, had died of the illness in current days.

About 91 % of Palestinians contaminated by the illness since final March have recovered, Ms. al-Kaila mentioned. Over all, in response to the Palestinian Well being Ministry, there have been about 206,440 confirmed instances amongst Palestinians over the previous yr, 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, partially, residents mentioned, due to low belief in Israeli authorities and a flood of unsubstantiated, adverse rumors concerning the vaccine circulating on social media.

Israeli officers say the Palestinian Authority, which workout routines restricted self-rule in elements of the West Financial institution, assumed accountability for well being companies in its areas of management when the interim peace agreements generally known as the Oslo Accords have been signed within the mid-Nineteen 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 up to now 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 a further two million in Gaza.

Israeli officers have mentioned it’s of their curiosity to assist the Palestinians as soon as Israeli residents, together with lots of 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 out there.

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, below which occupying powers are obligated to make sure the general public well being of individuals residing below occupation so far as doable. 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 legal professional common examines whether or not the decision-making went by means of correct channels.

To this point, the Palestinians have obtained 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 lots of of hundreds of AstraZeneca doses by means of the global-sharing initiative Covax someday in March. Extra provides of AstraZeneca vaccine are anticipated as properly.

Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh of the Palestinian Authority mentioned Saturday that world competitors was principally responsible for delays in a big vaccination rollout, however {that a} batch of vaccines have been anticipated to reach subsequent week, in response to 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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