Israel transferred 2,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine to the Palestinian Authority's medical teams on Monday, to aid them in the fight against the pandemic.
Jerusalem is set to transfer another 3,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine in the near future, in accordance with recommendations by Defense Minister Benny Gantz and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Major General Kamil Abu Rukun.
Israel’s decision to share Israel’s own vaccine stock with the Palestinians comes in the wake of harsh criticism by several international bodies, who condemned Jerusalem for its initial refusal to transfer vaccines to the PA.
Under the terms of the Oslo Accords, however, the PA is responsible for the healthcare of its own population and has repeatedly said it is obtaining its own vaccines via a UN scheme. It has also never overtly asked Israel for assistance.
Palestinian officials repeatedly said they were due to receive thousands of Russia's Sputnik V, but unexplained technical difficulties have delayed the shipment, leaving the Palestinians with no vaccines at all.
This in turn makes Israel the first, and thus far only, country to aid the Palestinians during the coronavirus crisis, despite Israel's struggle to contain the surging number of cases at home.
The PA is also seeking to procure coronavirus vaccines from the British–Swedish company AstraZeneca. The World Health Organization is also expected to deliver a large amount of vaccines to Palestinians, but it is unknown at this time when the doses will be received.
Last week, it was revealed that the team of experts advising the coronavirus cabinet recommended that vaccines be given to Palestinians in the West Bank - partly due to frequent entrance of Palestinian workers into Israel.
"As medical professionals, we must vaccinate the Palestinians because of their travel here, this is our sweeping recommendation. There was a real consensus on this issue," said one source.
"Vaccinating the Palestinians is in our interest. There seem to be political considerations in the fact that so far they have not been vaccinated,” said another source advising the cabinet.