Israeli medics administer the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine to Palestinians at the Qalandia checkpoint between the West Bank and Jerusalem, Feb. 23, 2021
An Israeli medic administers the coronavirus vaccine to a Palestinian at the Qalandia checkpoint between the West Bank and Jerusalem, Feb. 23, 2021
Photo: AP
An Israeli medic administers the coronavirus vaccine to a Palestinian at the Qalandia checkpoint between the West Bank and Jerusalem, Feb. 23, 2021

Israel giving 'symbolic' number of COVID vaccines to Palestinians, other nations

Recipients include Honduras, which is due to relocate embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem; PMO says vaccines earmarked for medics in countries receiving doses; official says Ashkenazi, Blinken discussed issue of vaccines for PA

Reuters |
Published: 02.23.21 , 15:57
Israel is giving a "symbolic" amount of surplus COVID-19 vaccines to the Palestinians and to several countries, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said on Tuesday.
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  • The Prime Minister's Office said the vaccines would be used by the foreign recipients' medical personnel.
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    Israeli medics administer the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine to Palestinians at the Qalandia checkpoint between the West Bank and Jerusalem, Feb. 23, 2021
    Israeli medics administer the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine to Palestinians at the Qalandia checkpoint between the West Bank and Jerusalem, Feb. 23, 2021
    An Israeli medic administers the coronavirus vaccine to a Palestinian at the Qalandia checkpoint between the West Bank and Jerusalem, Feb. 23, 2021
    (Photo: AP)
    An Israeli official said Honduras was among the recipients. The Central American country said last year it intended to move its Israel embassy to Jerusalem, a diplomatic gain for Israel.
    The Honduran embassy in Israel had no immediate comment.
    Israel has been importing Pfizer Inc and Moderna Inc vaccines. According to the Health Ministry, it has administered at least one Pfizer dose to almost 50% of its 9 million population as well as to Palestinians in East Jerusalem.
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    ראש הממשלה בנימין נתניהו נשיא הונדורס חואן הורלנדו הרננדז ברזיליה
    ראש הממשלה בנימין נתניהו נשיא הונדורס חואן הורלנדו הרננדז ברזיליה
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu talks with Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández at a 2019 meeting in Brazil
    (Photo: Reuters)
    But it has come under foreign criticism for not providing similarly for Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
    This month the Palestinians received an initial shipment of Moderna vaccines from Israel and have also begun administering Russia's Sputnik V vaccines in Gaza and the West Bank.
    An official in Jerusalem said the matter was discussed by Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and U.S. counterpart Antony Blinken on Monday.
    Ashkenazi updated him about the amount of vaccines transferred to Gaza and the West Bank, and the vaccination of Palestinian laborers in Israel, the official said.
    The statement from Netanyahu's office said the vaccines donated by Israel were a surplus built up over the last month.
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    חיסונים בירושלים
    חיסונים בירושלים
    A Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem receives the coronavirus vaccine from Israel's largest health fund, Clalit
    (Photo: AFP)
    Israel informed countries that asked it for donations that the vaccines it had ordered were "intended for vaccinating its population and there is no expectation of a capacity to provide significant [foreign] assistance, at least before the vaccination campaign in Israel ends," the statement said.
    Netanyahu, however, reportedly showed little hesitation in agreeing to pay Russia some $1.2 million to buy vaccines for archenemy Syria as part of a recent deal to release an Israeli woman held captive in Damascus.
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    Palestinian health workers stand next to a shipment of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine sent by United Arab Emirates, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at Rafah crossing in the southern Gaza Strip
    Palestinian health workers stand next to a shipment of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine sent by United Arab Emirates, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at Rafah crossing in the southern Gaza Strip
    A shipment of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine arrives at the Rafah crossing in southern Gaza this week
    (Photo: Reuters)
    His office made no mention of any vaccines as it lauded the deal and reportedly pushed IDF censor to block coverage of the vaccine purchases.
    Asked about the reported deal, Netanyahu was evasive. He said "not one Israeli vaccine" was delivered to Syria — a country that harbors hostile Iranian forces. But he would not say whether Israel had paid Russia for the vaccines.
    The Associated Press contributed to this report
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