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United Methodists are responding to Kairos Palestine: A Moment of Truth ,a statement of faith and urgent call to action from Christians in Palestine.  UMKR seeks, through nonviolent means and in partnership with Palestinian Christians, freedom, justice and equality for all Palestinians and Israelis.

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See also:
from Jewish Voice for Peace Health Advisory Council:



Palestinian Authority to Roll Out Strict Nighttime, Weekend Curfew, Ban on Gatherings
“The Palestinian Authority announced a series of new measures to go into effect on Sunday, in a bid to curb the rise in coronavirus cases in the West Bank. These new guidelines include a nighttime curfew starting Sunday, from 7 P.M. to 6 A.M., and a weekend curfew on Friday and Saturday. All gatherings, including weddings and funerals, are banned under the new restrictions. The Palestinian authorities have also banned Arab Israelis from entering the West Bank, Palestinian laborers from moving between Israel and the West Bank, and all residents from moving between Palestinian cities.”
See also:
PA extends lockdown restrictions as infections remain high in West Bank (The Times of Israel)
Palestinians excluded from Israeli Covid vaccine rollout as jabs go to settlers (The Guardian)

Netanyahu to convene cabinet within 48 hours to decide on new lockdown steps
Times of Israel
“The prime minister says he’ll call a cabinet meeting in the next 48 hours to decide on tightening the country’s coronavirus lockdown, as the nation’s infections continue their upward trend. “With a short, tight lockdown we will save many lives, and be the first in the world to bring back the economy,” he says.”
Israel's Lockdown 'Isn't Effective,' Coronavirus Czar Says Amid Calls for Tighter Measures
“Israel’s coronavirus czar, Prof. Nachman Ash, said that the current lockdown measures in place “aren’t effective enough” and told the Kann public broadcaster that the Health Ministry intends to “demand a complete closure of the education system.” “In order for it to influence [infection rates] as much as possible and last as little time as possible, it has to be effective,” Ash said. The initial proposal for Israel’s third lockdown included restrictions on schools, but that changed under political and public pressure, and the education system largely operates as it did before the lockdown started a week ago.”

Health Ministry says vaccinated, recovered to get ‘green passport’ for 6 months
The Times of Israel
“The Health Ministry on Monday unveiled details of its proposed “green passport” for Israelis who have been inoculated against the coronavirus or recovered from COVID-19, which would grant holders of the document access to large gatherings and cultural venues. Health officials said those who test negative for the virus could receive a temporary green passport for 72 hours, while passports granted to those who have been vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 will be valid for six months.”

Israel's virus surveillance tool tests its democratic norms
Israel Hayom
“A ministerial committee decided last month that Israel would begin scaling back the tool and limiting its use. But the decision is not final and more recently Israel has indicated it will seek to continue its widespread use, despite a Supreme Court challenge against the technology. With the tool having been used on its citizens in a health crisis, critics say the door is open for it to be used again in other matters unrelated to state security.”

Coronavirus in Palestine claims 20 new victims, 1191 new cases, and 1804 recoveries in 24 hours
“Coronavirus in Palestine today claimed the lives of 20 people while 1191 people have contracted the disease, and 1804 patients have recovered from it in the last 24 hours, according to Minister of Health Mai Alkaila. She said in her daily report on coronavirus in Palestine that nine people have died in the West Bank, six in the Gaza Strip, and five in East Jerusalem recorded over two days. The West Bank had 545 new coronavirus cases, most of them in the Ramallah district with 138 new cases, followed by Nablus with 70 cases, Hebron 69, Jenin 65, Tulkarm 52, and Bethlehem 39. A total of 683 patients have recovered in the West Bank. The Gaza Strip had 396 new cases and 866 recoveries in the last 24 hours, while East Jerusalem had 250 new cases and 255 recoveries recorded over two days.”

Palestinians say they are now trying to get vaccines from Israel
Jerusalem Post
“The Palestinian Authority is examining the possibility of obtaining COVID-19 vaccines from Israel, a senior PA official told The Jerusalem Post Tuesday. PA officials have in the past few days approached the Israeli government to inquire if it would be willing to provide them with some of the vaccines it received, the official said. ‘We understand that the political echelon in Israel has to decide about this matter,’ the official told the Post.”

Amnesty calls on Israel to give Palestinians virus vaccine
The Times of Israel
“Amnesty International on Wednesday called on Israel to provide coronavirus vaccine doses to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, saying the Jewish state was obligated to do so under international law…But UK-based rights group Amnesty said Israel needed to “stop ignoring its international obligations as an occupying power and immediately act to ensure that Covid-19 vaccines are equally and fairly provided to Palestinians living under its occupation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.””
See also:
Israel offers aggressive COVID-19 vaccine rollout, but Palestinians left behind (LA Times)

Ministers approve full lockdown starting Thursday
“After hourslong deliberations, ministers voted on Tuesday to tighten the lockdown, shuttering schools and nonessential businesses, starting overnight Thursday for two weeks. As part of the new measures, gatherings will be limited to five people indoors and ten people outdoors, only essential workers will be allowed to leave for work, and all professional sports activities will be canceled.”

Palestine confirms 1,088 new coronavirus cases, 14 deaths
“Among the new 1,088 cases, 478 cases were recorded in the West Bank and 610 others in the besieged Gaza Strip.”

Palestinian labor limited due to corona, Israeli builders struggling
Jerusalem Post
“With another full lockdown beginning Thursday night, restricted travel from the Palestinian territories will leave Israel’s building industry facing another period of uncertainty. ‘We were just informed that the country has decided to close up the Palestinian territories to daily travel for workers,’  Israel Builders Association Deputy Director-General Shay Pauzner said Thursday. ‘That means that if a worker wants to work, he will have to decide by Sunday to commit to remaining inside Israel for the remainder of the closure, and not returning to his home every night for at least two weeks.’”

Some Israeli Arabs, Jerusalem Palestinians wary of coronavirus vaccine
“As Israel leads the world in the rate of coronavirus vaccination, some of its Arab citizens and Palestinians in East Jerusalem are regarding the shot with suspicion. In what officials see as a result of misinformation about possible side-effects or supposed malicious properties, turnout for vaccines has been low among Arabs, who make up 21% of Israel’s population, and Jerusalem Palestinians.”

Israel is Legally Obligated to Ensure the Population in the West Bank and Gaza Strip Are Vaccinated
Just Security
“Under international law and under Israeli public law, as interpreted by the Supreme Court, the Israeli government has a duty to ensure that the population in the territories is vaccinated. This obligation was recognized in the Supreme Court ruling in the days leading up to the Gulf War of 1991 (HCJ Murcus v. Minister of Defense), when the fear of a chemical attack by Iraq prompted the distribution of gas masks to all Israelis. The Supreme Court ordered the military commander to distribute similar kits to the Palestinian population in those areas quickly and free of charge. Since there were not enough protective kits for all, the Court ordered the military commander to “make every effort to obtain these protective kits as soon as possible.” From the days of the Gulf War until today, much has changed, but the obligations of the State of Israel toward the Palestinian population in the territories have remained in this respect. Israel is still the occupying power in the West Bank, while the Gaza Strip is under constant blockade, which also imposes on Israel the responsibility for the well-being of the population living there. Despite the termination of direct control since 2005, the Supreme Court has ruled (HCJ Albassiuni Ahmed v. The Prime Minister) that Israel has “a duty to ensure the safety of the civilian population [in Gaza] and the protection of its dignity and basic rights.”

Moreover, in recent years the Knesset has expressed its opinion that it is authorized to regulate directly by legislation life in the West Bank, thereby reflecting the legal position that Israel is directly responsible for the lives of the people living there, Jews and Arabs alike. How, then, can the Knesset allow discrimination between these two population groups, especially in a situation where there are enough vaccines for all?”

Israel’s obligation to Gaza in a pandemic and post-pandemic reality
“Israel is obligated to protect the health and safety of all people living under its control, including by ensuring that the vaccine is available in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. This will necessarily require close cooperation with Palestinian authorities and the international community, but their involvement does not absolve Israel from its ultimate responsibility toward Palestinians living under occupation. Where needed, Israel must contribute to covering the cost of the vaccine and its distribution, unconditionally….
Recent media reports have indicated that Israeli officials may be conditioning the distribution of vaccines and other necessary equipment for Gaza’s COVID-19 response on the outcome of negotiations with Hamas for two Israeli citizens it is allegedly holding, as well as the return of two bodies of Israeli soldiers killed in 2014. The health and human rights of the Palestinian population, including access to medicine, medical treatment, and vaccines, must not, under any circumstances, be made conditional on the outcome of negotiations or political maneuvering of any kind. Hamas’s violations of international humanitarian law do not absolve Israel of its positive duties to the civilian population in Gaza, who is in effect being punished for political developments out of its control, nor do they justify Israel’s own violations of international law.”
See also:
15 Israeli, Palestinian and international health and human rights organizations: Israel must provide necessary vaccines to Palestinian health care systems. (B'Tselem)

Yes, Israel should be providing COVID vaccines for Palestinians
+972 Magazine
“According to Israel’s public broadcaster Kan, Israel covertly transferred dozens of doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to the Palestinian Authority this week, though the Palestinian Health Ministry has denied these reports. Instead, Palestinians are expecting to be vaccinated through COVAX, a global vaccine-sharing alliance. They are also hoping to receive some doses of the UK’s Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. When or how these campaigns will take place is still unclear, though.

Israel claims that, based on the 1990s Oslo Accords, the PA is responsible for administering health services to Palestinians, and is therefore in charge of procuring the vaccine. In fact, Israel is choosing to remain “on the fence” in everything having to do with inoculating Palestinians under occupation. This policy not only undermines Israel’s public health interests, it also goes against its obligations under international law to the Palestinian population it occupies.

All of a sudden, it has become convenient for Israeli officials to respect the wishes of the PA and refrain from imposing its vaccination program on the Palestinians. There is no greater hypocrisy than this, considering the immense asymmetry in power between Israel and the PA. The Palestinians do not want settler-only roads, nor do they want open-fire zones on agricultural land or to remain dependent on Israel for anything else. Israel, of course, does not rush to fulfill these Palestinian demands, but with the vaccines, Israel is ostensibly taking every precaution not to patronize the Palestinians and hurt their pride, their health system be damned. I am convinced that if Israel offers to provide Palestinians with doses of the vaccine in a respectful manner — without turning it into a public relations stunt — they would not refuse it.”

Palestine registers 23 coronavirus-related deaths, 822 new infections
“Minister of Health Mai Alkaila said today that 23 deaths from COVID-19, 822 new infections and 1405 recoveries were registered in Palestine during the last 24 hours. In her daily report on the COVID-19 pandemic, she said 15 people died of the coronavirus in the West Bank, while eight died in the Gaza Strip.”

Coronavirus Live: Israel's Public Security Minister Doubles Down on Denying Vaccines to Prisoners
“The Attorney General’s Office informed Public Security Minister Amir Ohana on Friday that he must allow the vaccination of prisoners….In response to the attorney general’s instruction to allow for the vaccination of prisoners, Public Security Minister Amir Ohana responded with a sharply worded letter, reiterating his stance.”

Once seen as a model, Israel now imposes a tighter coronavirus lockdown
New York Times
“Israel, which was once seen as a model coronavirus country, is outpacing the rest of the world in vaccinating its citizens. But the prospect that Israel would have the virus under control by spring, once promising, now seems uncertain. Health officials say that in the short term, at least, the vaccine campaign cannot compete with the soaring infection rates of more than 8,000 new cases a day.
And the Palestinian Authority, which runs its own health care system in the occupied West Bank, has asked Israel for vaccines, prompting a debate over Israel’s responsibility to the Palestinians at a time when Israel’s vaccine supplies are dwindling.”

Officials condemn Israel's lockdown of Ibrahimi Mosque for 10 days
“Palestinian officials have condemned the decision of the Israeli occupation authorities to shut down the archaeological Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron, south of the occupied West Bank, for 10 days under the pretext of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hefzi Abu Sneineh, the director of the mosque, told WAFA that Israel’s order will ban the entry of worshipers and visitors to the holy site for ten days under the pretext of the coronavirus restrictions. He said Israel’s pretext was baseless since all worshipers and visitors have been following up the health and safety protocols of wearing face-masks and social distancing. Meanwhile, Mahmoud al-Habbash, advisor to President Mahmoud Abbas on religious affairs and Islamic relations, described Israel’s lockdown of the holy site as an inclusive war crime, saying that banning worshipers access to the site could fuel the sentiments of Muslims around the world. He said the Israeli decision was also an interference into the powers of the Palestinian Waqf (Endowments) Department, which is in charge of holy sites in Palestine, as well as a breach of the UNESCO’s decision which considers the Ibrahimi Mosque as a pure Islamic site.”

Palestinian Authority Expects First Vaccines in March, Accuses Israel of 'Ignoring Its Duties'
“The Palestinian Authority said on Sunday it expects to receive its first COVID-19 vaccine doses in March under a deal with drugmaker AstraZeneca, and accused Israel of shirking a duty to ensure vaccines are available for all people in the territories it controls. While Israel has already become the world leader in vaccinations per capita, Palestinians in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip have yet to secure their first supplies.”
See also:
Israel ‘declined WHO request’ to provide Covid-19 vaccine for Palestinian medics (Haaretz)
PA: Israel responsible for providing vaccine to Palestinians (Jerusalem Post)

5 Human Rights Groups Petition against Minister of Public Security Ohana’s Refusal to Vaccinate Prisoners
Physicians for Human Rights Israel, ACRI, Adalah, HaMoked, and Rabbis for Human Rights
“In the petition, the organizations demand that the Prison Service vaccinate the entire prisoner population according to the vaccination priority set by the Ministry of Health, with an emphasis on prisoners aged 60 and over, and those in high-risk groups. Moreover, the petition demands that the IPS prevent prioritizing the vaccination of prison staff over the prisoners.”
See also:
Gantz to Netanyahu: Refusing to vaccinate prisoners who are 60+ is illegal (Jerusalem Post)
Human rights groups petition High Court to force Israel to vaccinate inmates (Times of Israel)

Virus czar says there’s room for optimism as morbidity rate slows
The Times of Israel
“National coronavirus czar Nachman Ash expressed optimism Sunday that the combination of lockdown measures and Israel’s fast-paced mass inoculation program was beginning to impact the virus’s spread, slowing down infection rates. Ash’s remarks came as the number of seriously ill COVID-19 patients reached its highest level since the start of the pandemic in the country.”

COVID Vaccines: The Most Lethal Example of Israel’s Disregard for Palestinian Lives
“Israel’s violations towards Palestinians are often justified as protecting Israel’s security and national interests. However, failing to provide vaccines for Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory has nothing to do with security, and little to do with protecting the State of Israel. It is more akin to a complete disregard for the humanity and lives of Palestinians. As people in Gaza and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territories continue to contract and die of COVID-19, Israel continues to deny that it has any responsibility with respect to the provision of vaccines, despite this being completely untrue under international humanitarian law and international human rights law.”

2020 was a bad year for Gaza hotel-turned quarantine centers
“The Beach Hotel with its 25 rooms is among 10 large hotels the Ministry of Interior in Gaza has converted into quarantine centers. Nashwan said that he was forced to terminate work contracts with local and foreign institutions and call off several weddings and evening events due to the health crisis. He also had to lay off and terminate contracts signed with more than 30 workers during 2020, as the ministry did not cover any expenses for turning the hotels into quarantine centers, nor did it offer compensation for hotel owners. He noted that the hotel operated for only two months last year before the first case was reported in the Gaza Strip in March and was subsequently converted into a quarantine center. Nashwan pointed out that in 2020, the hotel’s losses amounted to about $250,000, adding, “Things are not likely to improve as hotels are expected to remain closed.””

Israel hits new record high with 9,589 daily infections
“Some 127,000 tests yield positivity rate of 7.6% as country also crosses threshold of half a million infections since start of outbreak; Health Ministry data shows areas with prominent Haredi population have seen highest infection rates in last seven days”

Palestinians Strike Four COVID-19 Vaccine Deals, With 'Emergency Approval' for Russia's Sputnik V
“The Palestinian Authority has reached agreements with four vaccine companies, which has included granting “emergency approval” for the Russian coronavirus vaccine to be administered in its territory, covering up to 70 percent of the population, Palestinian Health Minister Mai al-Kaila said on Monday. Although Al-Kaila’s statement didn’t specify when the vaccines would arrive, the Russian Direct Investment Fund, which is responsible for marketing Sputnik V abroad, said the first shipment is expected to arrive next month, with all deliveries expected in the first quarter of this year.”
See also:
Palestinians say first vaccine shipment could arrive in March (Ynet)

Israel expands vaccination drive to anyone 50 years and up
[not for Palestinians in OPT]
The Times of Israel
“Israelis age 50 and up will be eligible for coronavirus vaccinations through their health care providers starting Wednesday, the Health Ministry announced Tuesday, expanding its world-leading drive as nationwide COVID-19 infections reached a new peak. Those in the eligible group can begin booking appointments immediately, the ministry said…Despite the quick vaccine rollout, the country is also battling a resurgent third wave of the virus. The daily virus caseload reached its highest level ever Monday, with 9,613 new cases diagnosed, according to ministry figures released Tuesday morning. The number of positive virus tests climbed to 7.6% out of 126,717 tests returned Monday. There are 73,966 active patients in the country, of which 1,071 are in serious condition, ministry data showed. Since the start of the outbreak 504,888 people in the country have been diagnosed with the coronavirus with 3,723 fatalities. The government on Friday tightened a national lockdown, shuttering all schools except for special education institutes. Most stores and public venues have been ordered shut and movement is limited to one kilometer from home except for essential needs.”

Vaccination Under Occupation
Jewish Currents
“Israeli officials and professional Israel-advocates alike have been quick to boast of Israel’s vaccination successes. When human rights groups warned that Israel was neglecting its obligations to the nearly five million Palestinians living under its ultimate control, some Israeli journalists and pro-Israel commentators created a discursive fog around the issue of Israeli responsibility, accusing news outlets like The Guardian of spreading falsehoods for reporting Israel’s exclusion of Palestinians in the occupied territories from its vaccination program, and smearing those who shared the coverage, like Canadian MP Charles Angus, as promoting antisemitism.”

Israel’s vaccine success can’t hide a deeper divide
Washington Post
“…around a third of the 14 million people living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea are not included in this vaccination campaign. Israel has distributed vaccines to Jewish settlers in the West Bank, but not to Palestinians there or in the cramped, impoverished Gaza Strip. Israeli officials contend that these Palestinians don’t fall under their jurisdiction under the terms of the Oslo accords and that it is the job of the Palestinian Authority to procure and distribute vaccines in the occupied territories.”
See also:
Palestinians desperately await COVID-19 vaccine (Al Jazeera)

Palestine records 978 Covid-19 cases, 30 deaths
“Palestine today recorded 978 new Covid-19 cases and 30 deaths, according to Health Minister Mai Al-Kaileh. She announced that 978 Palestinians tested positive for the highly contagious virus and 30 others died of it in the occupied territories. Among the new 978 confirmed cases, 541 cases were recorded in the West Bank, including Jerusalem, and 437 others in the besieged Gaza Strip…According to the latest coronavirus data, the confirmed cases in the occupied territories (West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza) reached 168,652. Out of the 168,652 cases, 103,245 are recorded in the West Bank, 46,524 in the Gaza Strip and 18,883 in East Jerusalem.”

Health Ministry denies receipt of Covid-19 vaccine from Israel
“The Health Ministry today categorically denied the receipt of dozens of doses of Covid-19 vaccine from Israel. The Ministry described Israeli media reports that Israel has transferred dozens of coronavirus vaccine to the Palestinian Authority at the start of the week as ‘groundless rumors’.”
See also:
Israel acknowledges it gave 100 COVID vaccine doses to the Palestinian Authority (Times of Israel)

Rights center demands Israel set up COVID-19 vaccine stations for Palestinian Jerusalemites living behind separation wall
“Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel sent an urgent letter on 7 January to Israeli health officials demanding that they establish COVID-19 vaccine stations for the residents of two Palestinian areas of Jerusalem for which Israeli authorities hold responsibility. The neighborhoods of Kufr Aqab and the Shufat refugee camp both were illegally annexed and fall within the boundaries of Israel’s Jerusalem municipality, but are located behind Israel’s separation wall. Israel has not established any COVID-19 vaccination stations to serve the 150,000 residents of Shufat refugee camp, Kufr Aqab, and the surrounding areas.”
Rivlin calls for vaccination of prisoners: Ban is ‘inconsistent with our values’
Times of Israel
“Last month, Ohana instructed prison officials to refrain from vaccinating inmates against COVID-19 until further notice, after a Palestinian official said that security prisoners were expected to soon begin getting shots. Ohana’s ban included not only security prisoners, but all inmates.”
See also:
7 more Palestinians catch COVID-19 in Israeli prisons (Al-Anadolu)
Hamas bars patients from going to US charity’s field hospital on border
Times of Israel
“Gaza’s Hamas rulers said Wednesday they would bar patients from the Palestinian territory from going to a field hospital opened by a US charity in protest of what they say are insufficient services. The hospital, located on no-man’s land along the Israeli border, is meant to support the overwhelmed health system in the blockaded enclave…The evangelical Christian group FriendShips, which quietly built its ‘Camp Gaza’ tent hospital over the past year and a half, said this week it was ‘ready to receive patients.’ With a photo of a smiling medical worker on the project’s Facebook page, it added that ‘we anxiously await the coordination of patients from Ministry of Health in Gaza.’”

Israel/OPT: UN experts call on Israel to ensure equal access to COVID-19 vaccines for Palestinians
UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner
“UN human rights experts* today called on Israel, the occupying power, to ensure swift and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for the Palestinian people under occupation….According to the World Health Organization, more than 160,000 Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory have tested positive for the coronavirus since March 2020, with more than 1,700 deaths related to COVID-19. Infections and deaths have been rising steadily in recent weeks. The experts said that as the occupying power, Israel is required under the Fourth Geneva Convention, “to the fullest extent of the means available to it”, to maintain health services in the occupied territory.”

Israel’s Attorney General Says Minister’s Order Not to Vaccinate Prisoners Oversteps Authority

“Attorney General Avichai Mendeblit said on Friday that vaccination against the coronavirus should immediately be provided to prisoners, after asserting that Public Security Minister Amir Ohana’s order not to vaccinate them in tandem with the general population had no standing….The High Court is set to hear petitions on Tuesday against Ohana’s decision filed by several human rights organizations, prisoners and the Israel Bar Association….
  Meanwhile, prisoners have complained that in addition to a lack of vaccines, they aren’t receiving basic medical treatment and the wardens aren’t taking reasonable precautions. One prisoner said the infections most likely originated with the wardens, who come and go from outside. “The wardens circulate among us without masks, and that’s it,” he said. “Living conditions are terrible. It’s crowded. This is a death trap.””

Israel To Start Vaccinating Palestinian Prisoners Next Week
“Israel’s health minister announced Thursday the country would vaccinate Palestinian prisoners against COVID-19, after Israel’s president said withholding vaccines was against Israel’s Jewish and democratic values. Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said the prisoners would be vaccinated early next week, on Monday or Tuesday. The minister informed NPR of the decision before making a public announcement.”

Israel to start vaccinating prisoners next week
Al Monitor
“Israel will administer COVID-19 vaccinations to prisoners starting next week, the health minister confirmed on Thursday, following a wave of criticism from human rights groups and Israel’s own president that failure to do so would violate the detainees’ basic rights.
Israel’s public security minister, Amir Ohana, had ordered the Israeli Prison Service not to vaccinate detainees, including Palestinian security prisoners. Ohana had called for vaccinations to be given only to prison guards. In a letter to Israeli Health Minister Yuli Edelstein, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin raised concerns that the directive ran counter to Israel’s “sacred Jewish and Democratic values.” Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Monday urged his rival, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to intervene, writing in an emergency appeal that “beyond being illegal, this move is also impeding national efforts to battle the coronavirus.” A spokesperson for Edelstein confirmed on Thursday that prisoners would be administered the vaccine beginning next week. The news came the same day the Palestinian Prisoner Society announced that seven more prisoners in southern Israel’s Rimon Prison had contracted the virus, raising the current number of cases in the facility to 30.”

How Netanyahu exploits Israel’s vaccine success
The Spectator
“In private, Israeli officials admit that Israel will help the Palestinians with Israel’s own surplus vaccines, as soon as they’ve finished vaccinating most Israelis. If things were different, they might even have considered passing them vaccines earlier — but there’s that election on 23 March. As Netanyahu knows, it’s quite possible that Israeli will be protected by then. Vaccinations for Palestinians, justified or not, won’t win any votes.”

Gaza Between Occupation, Division, and COVID-19: Confronting Total Collapse
“Gaza has always been unique among the different parts of Palestine. Its current particularity stems from being caught between three major variables exacerbating its collapse: the Israeli occupation, division in Palestinian leadership, and the COVID-19 pandemic. This reality raises socio-political questions about the role of these factors in advancing social collapse in Gaza, and about changes in the values of resilience and steadfastness among Palestinians in Gaza. Despite the attempts of Gaza’s inhabitants to survive and achieve stability in their daily lives, the consequences of occupation, political division, and the pandemic have eroded the foundations of perseverance amongst them. Indeed, Palestinians in Gaza have suffered from societal fragility, uncertainty, and turbulence that have forced them to live in imaginary communities that cling to fantasy in order to survive. This commentary describes Gaza’s reality in light of the three major variables. It explores unfolding transformations within Gaza’s civil society to counter impending collapse, including social initiatives such as the Great March of Return, the “We Want to Live” movement, and other initiatives on social media. It concludes with reflections on the future of Gaza based on interviews with activists and young Palestinians who have lived this reality since their childhood.”

Palestinian shipment of Russian Sputnik vaccine delayed
The Times of Israel
“The doses had been expected to arrive on Tuesday but were delayed due to “technical issues,” according to an Israeli security official…Senior Palestinian Authority official Hussein al-Sheikh traveled to Moscow over the weekend to sign the agreement with the Russian government securing the immunizations. Al-Sheikh met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, among other officials. Russian authorities touted Sputnik V as the world’s “first registered COVID-19 vaccine” after the government approved it in early August. But the vaccine is highly controversial, with many public health experts arguing that it has not undergone proper safety trials. The Palestinian Authority ambassador to Russia, Abdel Hafiz Nofal, told the Ma’an News Agency that a technical failure relating to the transportation of the vaccines had led to the delay, which he estimated would be resolved by Friday. “Palestine has purchased 100,000 more doses. Hussein al-Sheikh signed the necessary papers for the agreement, but Russia will not be able to provide them immediately,” Nofal said.”

Israel passes 10,000 daily infections for first time since start of pandemic
The Times of Israel
“The Health Ministry said Tuesday morning that a record 10,021 infections were confirmed the previous day, bringing the country’s total caseload since the start of the pandemic to 562,167, including 81,059 active cases…There were 1,114 serious cases, including 347 in critical condition and 277 on ventilators. The death toll grew to 4,049. Oxford University statistics cited by the Ynet news site indicated that Israel has been leading the world in new cases per capita over the past seven days, ahead of Portugal, Andorra, the Czech Republic, Ireland and Lebanon. However, that figure is affected by the fact that Israel conducted the fourth highest number of COVID-19 tests per capita in the world over the same period.”

In her daily report on coronavirus in Palestine, health minister says 19 people have died and 660 new cases recorded
“In her daily report on coronavirus in Palestine, Minister of Health Mai Alkaila said today that 19 people have died of the disease in the last 24 hours, 660 new cases were recorded, and 1027 Patients have recovered. She said that nine people died in the West Bank, six in the Gaza Strip, and four in East Jerusalem. The Gaza Strip recorded 313 new cases and 395 recoveries, the West Bank had 225 new cases and 444 recoveries, while East Jerusalem recorded 122 new cases over two days and 188 recoveries.”

Israel’s vaccine efforts are incomplete until they include Palestinians
Washington Post - Yara Asi
“The typical perception of the relationship between the Palestinian territories and Israel is of two neighboring states in a conflict over land. Yet, as news has broken about Israel’s highly effective vaccination program, which has reached nearly 15 percent of its population in less than a month — but no more than 100 Palestinians outside of Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem — the reality obscured by this basic framing has become evident. The truth is that Palestinians depend on Israel for lifesaving medical care not because of poverty but because of politics.”

WHO raises ‘concerns’ about vaccine inequity between Israel and Palestinians
The Times of Israel
“The World Health Organization has raised “concerns” about the unequal distribution of coronavirus vaccines in Israel, which has given shots to more than 20 percent of its population, and the Palestinian territories, an official said Monday. While vaccinating its own Arab citizens and Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem, Israel says it is not responsible for inoculating the Palestinians. Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said Israel will consider helping, once it takes care of its own citizens.”
See also:
VIDEO: Vaccination rates reveal divide between Israelis and Palestinians (CNN)

Israel: Provide Vaccines to Occupied Palestinians
Human Rights Watch
“Nothing can justify today’s reality in parts of the West Bank, where people on one side of the street are receiving vaccines, while those on the other do not, based on whether they’re Jewish or Palestinian,” said Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch. “Everyone in the same territory should have equitable access to the vaccine, regardless of their ethnicity.”

Government extends lockdown until January 31 amid soaring virus rates
The Times of Israel
“Government ministers on Tuesday voted to extend the national lockdown by an additional 10 days, as Israel saw its highest-yet coronavirus infection rates since the start of the pandemic. The lockdown, already in its third week, was due to end automatically on Thursday night had an extension not been issued. Following the unanimous cabinet decision, is it is now scheduled to end on January 31.”

Palestine confirms 497 new coronavirus cases, 10 deaths
“Palestine recorded today 497 new coronavirus cases and 10 deaths, according to Health Minister Mai al-Kaila. She announced that 497 Palestinians tested positive for the highly contagious virus and 10 others died of it in the occupied territories. Among the new 497 cases, 212 cases were recorded in the West Bank and 285 others in the besieged Gaza Strip.”

Palestine confirms 574 new coronavirus cases, seven deaths
“Palestine recorded today 574 new coronavirus cases and seven deaths, according to Health Minister Mai al-Kaila. She announced that 574 Palestinians tested positive for the highly contagious virus and seven others died of it in the occupied territories. Among the new 574 cases, 288 cases were recorded in the West Bank and 286 others in the besieged Gaza Strip.”
Virus sickens 24 more Palestinian detainees in Israel
Al Anadolu
“Twenty-four Palestinian detainees have contracted the coronavirus inside Israeli prisons, a Palestinian NGO said on Wednesday. The Palestinian Prisoner Society said in a statement that 15 new cases were reported in the Rimon Prison in northern Israel and nine others in the Negev Prison in southern Israel. The new infections bring to 274, the number of Palestinian detainees who have been infected with COVID-19 inside Israeli jails since March.”
See also:
Eldest Palestinian prisoner in Israeli jails contracts coronavirus (WAFA)

Israel's roll out of the COVID-19 vaccine - What Palestinians have to say about it
Palestine Institute for Public Diplomacy (PIPD)
“In the past few weeks, Israel has been praised in mainstream international media for being a world leader in the COVID-19 vaccination campaign. Palestinians and allies have spoken up against this distorted narrative that covers up the reality of the racist and discriminatory reality of Israel’s COVID-19 vaccine roll-out. As Yara Hawari , Palestine Policy Fellow of Al-Shabaka, the Palestinian Policy Network writes in Al-Jazeera, “there is a dark side to Israel’s ‘vaccine success story’: While it is immunising its citizens against COVID-19 at an unrivalled rate, the Israeli government is not doing anything to vaccinate millions of Palestinians living under its military occupation.”

'Vaccination apartheid': Gaza struggling with Covid-19 infections while Israel rolls out jab
Middle East Eye
“While the Gazan health ministry struggles to get the vaccine with the help of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other international bodies, human rights groups believe that it is Israel’s responsibility to provide the vaccine for the blockaded enclave. “While Israel has already vaccinated more than 20 percent of its citizens, including Jewish settlers in the West Bank, it has not committed to vaccinating Palestinians living in the same occupied territory under its military rule,” Human Rights Watch said. The watchdog argued that it is Israel’s obligation under international humanitarian law, as an occupying power, to ensure medical supplies, including to combat the spread of pandemics in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.”

Israel closes its borders, including for citizens and immigrants, in effort to curb COVID-19
“Even as Israel has emerged as the world’s fastest-vaccinating country, its pace of new COVID-19 cases has set records as well. Now, in a desperate effort to bring the outbreak under control, the country is taking the unprecedented step of completely locking down its borders. Ben Gurion Airport has been closed to virtually all traffic in both directions. Since March, citizens have been able to travel freely as long as they follow quarantine rules upon entry, but now even they cannot enter or leave the country. (Non-citizens have largely been excluded, though a patchwork of exemptions has allowed some in.) Even new immigrants, who have continued to arrive during the pandemic despite limits on non-citizen entry, will have to wait until the shutdown ends to travel to the country.”
See also:
Israel bans all international flights to curb Covid-19 spread (Middle East Eye)

Israel Plans 2,000 Additional Hospital Beds for Jerusalem, None for Palestinian Neighborhoods
“The Health Ministry plans to add over 2,000 hospital beds in the Jerusalem region over the next few decades, but very few are planned for East Jerusalem, where a third of the region’s residents live. The new hospital beds are part of a long-term initiative dubbed the National Master Plan 49, which is for all future health institutions throughout the country. The Health Ministry and the Planning Administration recently finished preparing an initial version of the plan, in which it sets goals for the health system for the next few decades and identifies land where it is possible to expand existing hospitals and build new ones.”

Ultra-Orthodox Protesters Clash With Police Over COVID Rules, Attack Bus Driver
“Hundreds of members of the radical ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem faction protested in Bnei Brak on Sunday against police enforcement of coronavirus restrictions. A 41-year-old bus driver was hurt after being attacked with pepper spray by protesters, who proceeded to set the bus on fire. According to witnesses, the attackers shouted “he’s an Arab.” The blaze prompted authorities to evacuate residents living on the same street, and police dispersed protesters by using stun grenades. Several residents said police and firefighters only arrived about an hour after the incident was reported, despite a police station being only minuites away. ”
See also:
Covid-19: Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox Israelis protest over lockdown rules (Middle East Eye)

Israeli Health Minister likens his obligation to vaccinate Palestinians to Palestinians’ responsibility to care for ‘dolphins in the Mediterranean’
Andrew Marr of the BBC grilled Israeli Health Minister Yuli Edelstein about why Israel is not extending its vaccination program to the Palestinian people in territories it occupies, and Edelstein said Israel has no more obligation to them than the Palestinian minister of health has to ‘take care of dolphins in the Mediterranean.’”
Response from Dr. Hanan Ashrawi on Twitter– “Since we do not occupy the Mediterranean sea & our access to it is controlled by Israel, the UN &4th Geneva Convention didn’t task us with the responsibility of the dolphins’ health &well-being. However, should we be asked, we’ll do our best to take care of the dolphins willingly.”

Israel cries blood libel over false Palestinian COVID-19 vaccines charge
“False Palestinian charges with regard to the COVID-19 vaccines is a modern-day form of a blood libel, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan told the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday. “I would like to shatter the latest blood libel being spread by the Palestinians – false and grotesque accusations about Israel’s campaign to vaccinate its people,” Erdan said….”Anyone who joins the Palestinian campaign of lies either doesn’t know the facts or is motivated by politics or antisemitism,” the ambassador said. He noted that the charges were made on the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. “There is a long history of using every crisis to spread antisemitism and blame the Jews,” he explained.”

UN calls on Israel to help make vaccines available to Palestinians
“The United Nations has called on Israel to help make vaccines available to the Palestinians, but has stopped short of asking it to distribute the vaccines to them….”This will be critical for the broader efforts of both governments to control the pandemic and is also in line with Israel’s obligations under international law,” Wennesland told the United Nations Security Council, which held its only meeting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Tuesday.”

Prisoner Society: 38 new coronavirus cases confirmed among Palestinian prisoners in Israel
“The Palestinian Prisoner Society (PPS) said today that 38 new coronavirus cases were confirmed among Palestinian prisoners in the Israeli Rimon prison, which raises the number of cases in that prison to 111 since the first case was confirmed on January 11. It blamed in a statement the Israel Prisons Service (IPS) of neglecting the pandemic situation in the prison, which was the reason for the high number of cases.”

The absurdity of demanding Gaza get its own COVID-19 vaccines
+972 Magazine
“The PA and the Hamas de facto authority in Gaza must continue to struggle to provide for the needs of their people to the fullest extent possible in the current circumstances. They, too, bear obligations under the albeit broken doctrine of Oslo. But as the occupying power, Israel cannot transfer its responsibilities ­­— and most certainly not when it continues to undermine the ability of Palestinian authorities to fulfill theirs. Meanwhile, Israel continues to cherry-pick the clauses that are convenient for maintaining control of the occupied territory without any accountability. The denial of vaccines is just the latest, and a particularly stark example of the deadly consequences of letting Israel get away with it.”

Israel to give Palestinians vaccines for 1,000 medical workers
The Times of Israel
“Israel is reportedly planning to provide vaccines for around 1,000 Palestinian healthcare workers in the West Bank, as international pressure mounts for the Jewish state to extend its ambitious vaccine drive beyond its own citizens. Citing Israeli military sources, the Walla news site said Thursday that the shots would be transferred to the Palestinian Authority in two shipments “as soon as possible.””

Jordan presses Israel to vaccinate Palestinians
“Jordan’s King Abdullah II said Thursday Israel’s failure to provide vaccines to Palestinians in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip was counterproductive for the Jewish state. “The Israelis have had a very successful rollout of the vaccine, however the Palestinians have not,” Abdullah told the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “You cannot vaccinate one part of your society and not the other and think that you are going to be safe,” he said via video conference. “That is the number one lesson that COVID-19 taught us.””

Gov’t appears poised to extend lockdown as vote on raising fines set for Sunday

Times of Israel
“The government on Friday appeared set to extend the national lockdown, with Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin announcing the Knesset would convene on Sunday afternoon to vote on a bill that will raise fines for rule violators — an issue that threatened to derail an extension to the closure. Levin said all coalition factions had agreed to vote on the bill to raise fines for those who violate virus restrictions. The Knesset plenum will convene at 2 p.m. Sunday.”

Gantz confirms Israel to provide 5,000 coronavirus vaccines to Palestinians
“Israel has agreed to transfer 5,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine to the Palestinians to immunize front-line medical workers, Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s office announced Sunday. It was the first time that Israel has confirmed the transfer of vaccines to the Palestinians, who lag far behind Israel’s aggressive vaccination campaign after saying they have ordered a mass shipment of the Sputnik V vaccine from Russia.
See also:
Israel to give few Covid-19 vaccines to Palestinians amid ‘apartheid’ accusations (Middle East Eye)
Detainees’ Commission: 200 Palestinian prisoners in Israel got infected with coronavirus since start of year
“At least 200 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails got infected with the coronavirus disease since the start of the year, today said an official with the Palestinian Detainees and Ex-detainees’ Commission. Hasan Abed Rabbo told the official Voice of Palestine radio that the overall positive corona cases among the Palestinian prisoners in Israel have reached 340, mainly in Rimon and the Naqab prisons. He said five of the infected prisoners were admitted to hospitals due to deterioration in their health as a result of the virus.”
See also:
Palestinian prisoner with COVID-19 is in a critical condition, says NGO (WAFA)
Israel holds all the cards in the West Bank – it should vaccinate everyone
The Guardian
“The occupying power is responsible for the healthcare of the Palestinians, whose economy and medical systems are in ruins.”

Shtayyeh: First batch of Corona vaccine will arrive mid-month
Palestine News Network
“Prime Minister Dr. Muhammad Shtayyeh announced the extension of the state of emergency in Palestine for a period of 30 days, in light of the spread of Coronavirus and its new strain. Shtayyeh indicated at the beginning of the cabinet session, on Monday, that the government will continue to take measures to limit the spread of Coronavirus in force for another two weeks, stressing that the government will receive 50,000 Corona vaccines in the middle of this month.”

Israel provides COVID-19 vaccine doses for Palestinian health-care workers
“Israel transferred today 2,000 coronavirus vaccine doses to the Palestinian Authority (PA). The Pfizer-made vaccine doses were delivered through the Betunia trade crossing point in the southwest of Ramallah in the West Bank. A second delivery of 3,000 doses is expected in the coming days, with both deliveries destined for Palestinian health-care workers. It was the first time Israel handed over to the Palestinians significant coronavirus vaccines from its own supply.”

PA says Israel’s ‘symbolic’ donation of 5,000 vaccines ‘will not help us’
“An unnamed Palestinian official told AFP that the shipment was a “symbolic move” and that it “will not help us.” Israel has come out as a world leader for its distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, so far inoculating 3.2 million people (34.3 percent of the country’s population). But Israel has, as right groups have pointed out, failed to uphold its responsibility under international law to vaccinate the Palestinian population it occupies in Gaza and the West Bank. If the shipment of 5,000 vaccines does go through and the PA begins vaccinating healthcare workers, the lucky recipients of the vaccine will, according to public knowledge, be the first Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.“

Israel extends nationwide virus lockdown by five days
“Israel has extended its lockdown by an additional five days, with the cabinet voting Sunday to keep schools and most businesses closed through at least Friday morning. The nationwide lockdown, now is in its fourth week, is Israel’s third since the start of the pandemic. A ban on international commercial air travel will also stay in place through Feb. 7 and the border crossings to Jordan and Egypt will remain shut, according to a statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Health Ministry.”

Israel posts 8,261 new coronavirus cases, every 11th test positive
“Israel on Tuesday posted 8,261 new daily coronavirus cases diagnosed a day earlier, which means every eleventh test came back positive.  The Health Ministry said they conducted 92,958 tests on Monday, placing the national contagion rate at 9.2%. In the Haredi sector the infection rate is much higher at 17.8%.“

In Worrying Trend, COVID Spread in Israel Rising Again Despite Lockdown, Vaccines
“The COVID-19 infection rate known as the R number – the average number of people each coronavirus carrier infects – has climbed in recent days and is now reaching 1. This measure had fallen and stabilized last week at 0.9, but on Tuesday morning, it had risen back to 0.97. At the same time, the daily number of confirmed COVID cases remains high; on Monday 8,811 people tested positive for the virus. About nine percent of coronavirus tests returned positive. A report released by the Research Center for the Fight against the Coronavirus on Tuesday said that “Infection is continuing at very high rates, and a renewed increase [in infection] may be beginning.” It added, “The rate of positive tests continues to be very high, and in practice has not fallen during the entire lockdown period.””

President Abbas extends state of emergency for 30 more days over coronavirus
“President Mahmoud Abbas tonight extended the state of emergency in Palestine to confront the spread of Covid-19 pandemic. President Abbas issued a decree extending the state of emergency in Palestine for 30 more days starting tomorrow amidst the coronavirus outbreak in the occupied territories. A total of 94 percent of the total corona cases recorded so far since the outbreak in Palestine in March have recovered, 4.9 percent are still active, and 1.1 percent have died.”
See also:
Government extends lockdown in Palestine by two weeks, recommends extension of state of emergency (WAFA)

As virus surges, IDF suspends leave for combat troops
“For the first time in months, the military ordered a suspension of all leaves for soldiers serving in combat units starting Tuesday, over a surge in coronavirus cases. IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi’s order came after nearly 2,600 active service personnel were confirmed to have been infected with COVID-19.”

Palestinian political activist and analyst Abdel Sattar Qassem dies of Covid-19
Middle East Eye
“Prominent Palestinian academic and political activist Abdel Sattar Qassem died late on Monday aged 72 of Covid-19, his family said. Qassem, a professor of political science at Al-Najah University in Nablus, was well known for his activism against the Israeli military occupation in the West Bank, as well as his criticism of the Palestinian Authority’s security coordination and the Oslo Accords of 1993, signed between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO). He died at Al-Najah Hospital in the northern West Bank town of Nablus, where he was receiving treatment after contracting coronavirus two weeks ago. As of Tuesday, 2,023 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have died of Covid-19 since the pandemic started in March, according to figures released by the PA Ministry of Health.”

Covid-19: Jamaal Bowman calls on Israel to vaccinate Palestinians
Middle East Eye
“Congressman Jamaal Bowman, a first-term progressive Democrat, has called on the Israeli government to provide vaccines for the “entire population of the West Bank and Gaza”, joining a growing list of US legislators asserting that Israel has a responsibility to inoculate Palestinians. Bowman, who represents a large Jewish community in New York, sent a letter to the acting Israeli consul general in the city on Monday, decrying that Palestinians have been “left out of Israel’s rapid vaccine deployment”….
In the letter, the congressman likens his experiences as an African American to Palestinians under the occupation.
“I hope you understand that this issue is personal for me. As a Black man living in America, I know the feeling of being neglected by my government and society,” the congressman wrote. “I can understand the feelings of hopelessness and despair that Palestinians living in the West Bank might feel, reading in the news that the Israeli government has no plans to vaccinate them from a deadly disease wreaking havoc around the globe. “I know what it feels like to see white Americans in the wealthy part of my district get different resources and treatment, while just a few blocks away, Black Americans are neglected.”” —
The full letter is available here (Twitter).

Israel transfers 2,000 coronavirus vaccines to Palestinians
“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.”
See also:
Israel Delivers 2,000 COVID Vaccines to Palestinian Authority (Haaretz)

Palestinians, Tunisians to Be Among First COVAX Vaccine Recipients, WHO Says
“The Palestinian territories and Tunisia will benefit from a first wave of coronavirus vaccines from the COVAX scheme, but poorer states in the Middle East face a big gap in early vaccine provision, a World Health Organization (WHO) official said on Monday. The Palestinian territories are expected to receive 37,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine made by Pfizer and BioNTech starting in mid-February through COVAX.”

Palestinians begin COVID vaccinations in occupied West Bank
Al Jazeera
“The Palestinian Authority (PA) has started COVID vaccination in the occupied West Bank after receiving 2,000 doses from Israel, Palestinian officials said. The Moderna vaccines are the first batch of the promised 5,000 shots to be delivered by Israel to inoculate medical workers.”

Israel blockade inflaming Gaza’s COVID-19 crisis
Al Jazeera
“In a report released on Wednesday, a group of international researchers described “challenges over access to healthcare and other essential resources, as well as the economic toll the virus has placed on individuals and their families”, a statement said….
Such challenges have been exacerbated by the ongoing air, land and naval blockade imposed by Israel, described in the report as “the dominant factor in the worsening humanitarian situation…[resulting in] the ill-preparedness of the local healthcare system, economy and communities to cope”. “Israel’s blockade has devastated the economy in Gaza, and this is having a major impact on the ability of people to comply with lockdown measures when doing so means losing their already limited sources of income,” lead researcher Caitlin Procter from the European University Institute in Florence said.

“Many do not seek medical treatment for other health conditions, driven by fear of being infected by COVID, and the severe loss of income that a diagnosis would incur. For the same reason, some healthcare workers were reluctant to treat COVID patients, and many individuals with symptoms do not go for testing.” In addition to the ongoing blockade, high unemployment rates, UN funding cuts, and Palestinian political divisions are factors contributing to Gaza’s moribund economy.
See also:
COVID-19 in Gaza: Community Perspectives on the Pandemic (University of Bath and IOD PARC)
Covid denies Gaza cancer patients essential care (Al Monitor)

U.S. Democrats 'Heartened' by Israel's Vaccine Delivery to Palestinians, Urge Further Cooperation
“Several Democratic lawmakers who raised concerns about Israel’s vaccine distribution to Palestinians in the West Bank have hailed the Monday delivery of 2,000 doses to the Palestinian Authority….
Bowman’s letter follows praise from Rep. Joaquin Castro, who previously said he was “disappointed and concerned,” on the planned transfer of vaccines to Palestinian medical workers. He called the plan “welcome news and hope cooperation continues to grow.” “COVID-19 does not see or care about nationality, borders, or religion,” Rep. Marie Newman tweeted. “I stand with Rep. Bowman in ensuring that every effort is being taken so that Israelis and Palestinians have equitable access to vaccines.” Sen. Tim Kaine, who previously raised the matter during Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s confirmation hearing, said he was “glad to see this news” about the plan. Rep. Andy Levin also called it “such welcome news,” adding that “it is critical that Palestinians have access to COVID-19 vaccines” and that he hopes “the Israeli government continues this urgent work so that we can put this pandemic behind us.””

Israel expands vaccination drive to anyone over the age of 16, starting Thursday
Times of Israel  •  3 February 2021
“The Health Ministry on Wednesday ordered health providers to prepare to offer vaccines to the entire adult public starting Thursday…Until now, vaccines were open to risk groups and anyone over 35, with the elderly first to be immunized, as well as teens aged 16-18. Now, anyone over the age of 16 will be able to get the shots. Kids under that age were excluded from vaccine trials and therefore cannot be inoculated until additional research is conducted.
Israel has led the world’s most rapid inoculation campaign, with over a third of the population getting at least one dose, but the rate has been slowing down in recent days.”

Palestinian Authority receives first 10,000 doses of Sputnik V vaccine
i24 News
“The Palestinian Authority received its first shipment of the Russian-made Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine on Thursday morning, according to Israeli media reports. Moscow is said to have sent at least 10,000 doses of the vaccine to Ramallah, on top of a smaller shipment of roughly 2,000 jabs transferred by Israeli authorities earlier this week. The PA has made deals with four companies – AstraZeneca, Moderna, Sinopharm, backed by the Chinese government, and Sputnik V – to deliver doses of vaccine to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. However, a senior official in the PA’s health ministry last week expressed concern about the Russian vaccine, a key pillar of Ramallah’s coronavirus vaccination plan. Both Sputnik V and Sinopharm have been controversial due to lack of transparency during clinical trial phases, with some health experts expressing skepticism about their safety and effectiveness.”
Israel’s Blockade Worsens Gaza's Coronavirus Situation
Al Bawaba
“According to a study conducted by the UK-based University of Bath and the European University Institute in Florence, Italy, in cooperation with IOD PARC consulting organization, Palestinians are aware of the risks and understand the importance of public health measures to reduce the number of infections, but many perceive the preventative measures as more challenging than the disease itself.”
Palestinians Protest The Closure of The Sidon UNRWA Office in Lebanon
Al Bawaba
“Palestinian refugees in the Ain al-Hilweh camp escalated their protests against UNRWA Wednesday shuttering their office in Sidon claiming neglect as coronavirus viciously spreads among their camps. With the coronavirus widespread in the Palestinian camps in Lebanon causing high numbers of deaths and infections, the refugees have started to intensify their steps in protest of UNRWA’s handling of the health situation in what they describe as “neglect,” where a health emergency hasn’t even been declared yet.”
Israel confirms 7,385 new virus cases since Wednesday, death toll rises to 4,947
i24 News
“At least 7,385 new coronavirus cases have been confirmed over the last 24 hours, Israel’s Health Ministry said in a statement Thursday morning. The latest data also showed 85,925 Israelis being screened for COVID-19 since Wednesday, resulting in an 8.9 percent positivity rate. The Jewish state confirmed that 76,896 cases of COVID-19 are currently active in the country. Some 1,103 patients are considered to be in serious condition and 315 people have been placed on artificial respirators. To date, 4,947 people have died from the disease. Meanwhile, Israel’s world-leading vaccination campaign to all members of the public above the age of 16 following a decision made by cabinet ministers Wednesday evening.“
Israel Set to Exit COVID Lockdown With No Game Plan, Gambling on Vaccination Success
“Israel is exiting this lockdown, which lasted over six weeks, with one of the highest infection rates since the pandemic began, pinning its hopes on the success of the vaccine campaign. Even if the health system meets its goals – fully vaccinating five million Israelis – the big question, as Israel prepares to ease restrictions next week, is whether this will suffice to get the pandemic under control, let alone eradicate it.”

Palestinians receive 10,000 doses of Russian vaccine
The Times of Israel
“Around 10,000 Russian-made coronavirus vaccines arrived in Ben Gurion airport Thursday and were delivered to the Palestinian Authority. The shots — enough to inoculate 5,000 people — are a donation from Russian President Vladimir Putin. They are set to be given first to frontline healthcare workers and other priority groups, Palestinian Authority Health Minister Mai al-Kaila said.”

Israel sees alarming leap in child coronavirus cases
“Israel has seen a worrying rise in the number of coronavirus infections in teens, small children and even toddlers over the past few months, mainly due to the emergence of a number of variants of the pathogen in the country. “The high infection rate among children is expanding to younger ages and reaching infants,” says Prof. Tzachi Grossman, head of the Israeli Pediatric Association. “These are new phenomena that reflect everything that is happening in the country in terms of infections. It all stems from the new mutations, including the British one that many fear is more deadly than the original virus,” he says. “If this is indeed true, it means that not only are more children getting infected, but that they may even die at higher rates. The solution is to inoculate as many people as possible.””

In Gaza, Pandemic Forces Tough Choices And Health Care System Hangs By A Thread
“”There are many others like me who don’t want to report their illness so they can keep working,” he said. This is common in Gaza, where most live below the poverty line and the economy is in a chokehold due to a nearly 14-year Israeli and Egyptian blockade severely restricting trade and travel to the Islamist-ruled territory. In the first months of the pandemic, being cut off proved to be an advantage. The few infected travelers who did enter Gaza were quarantined and there was no discernible community spread.”

Israel’s Vaccine Success Unleashes a Debate on Palestinian Inequities
New York Times
“It remains unclear precisely when the roughly two million Palestinians in Gaza, the blockaded enclave controlled by the militant anti-Israel group Hamas, will begin to receive vaccinations.”
Drug Companies Must Address Israeli Discrimination in Vaccine Distribution
Inside Arabia – Sari Bashi
“Discrimination in COVID-19 vaccine distribution means a 19-year-old Jewish resident of the Beit El settlement in the Israeli-occupied West Bank can get vaccinated, but her 85-year-old Palestinian neighbor across the street cannot. The pharmaceutical companies Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca must insist that the Israeli government use medical, rather than ethnic, criteria to determine distribution priorities.”

Important for Palestinians to Receive More COVID-19 Vaccines, U.S. Official Says
“The United States believes it’s important for Palestinians to gain greater access to COVID-19 vaccines, a State Department official told Haaretz on Monday. “We welcome reports of Israel’s provision of vaccines for Palestinian health care workers in the West Bank,” the official said, adding that “we believe it’s important for Palestinians to achieve increased access to COVID vaccines in the weeks ahead.” The comments come as the Biden administration has called for reengagement with the Palestinians following years of deteriorated ties, as well as growing Israeli whispers surrounding the lack of contact between U.S. President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu since the former’s inauguration last month.”

Palestinians say Israel blocks shipment of vaccines to Gaza
Associated Press
“The Palestinian Authority said Monday that Israel was preventing it from sending coronavirus vaccines to the Gaza Strip that are intended for frontline medical workers in the territory controlled by the Islamic militant group Hamas. Palestinian Health Minister Mai Alkaila said in a statement that Israel bore “full responsibility” for blocking the shipment of 2,000 doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine that were acquired by the PA, which governs parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank.”
See also:
Palestinian Authority Accuses Israel of Failing to Transfer COVID Vaccines to Gaza (Haaretz)
Palestinians accuse Israel of preventing COVID-19 vaccine transfer to Gaza (Reuters)
Israel blocks Covid-19 vaccines destined for Gaza (Middle East Eye)
Israel blocked Covid vaccines from entering Gaza, say Palestinians (The Guardian)

Knesset debates Palestinian request to allow COVID vaccines into Gaza
The Times of Israel
“An Israeli security official told The Times of Israel on Sunday night that the request was being examined by the National Security Council, a security body that belongs to the Prime Minister’s Office. “There has not yet been any approval to transfer vaccines to the Gaza Strip. There was a request by the Palestinian Authority to transfer 1,000 doses of the Russian vaccine to Gaza, and that is what’s currently being discussed,” Salmon confirmed. Ramallah requested permission to transfer the vaccines to medical staff in Gaza. However, MK Zvi Hauser, head of the Foreign Affairs and Security, argued that the vaccines were more likely to reach the Hamas leadership. “I don’t see Yahya Sinwar giving his vaccine to a kind nurse in Gaza,” Hauser remarked sarcastically, referring to Gaza’s de facto governor.

There is relatively little interaction between Israelis and Gazans, argued Likud MK Avi Dichter, rejecting any Israeli epidemiological interest in providing vaccines to the Gaza Strip. “Gaza has been detached and isolated from Israel… the considerations are totally different,” said Dichter. “The Knesset must establish a clear condition that any vaccine that passes into the Gaza Strip requires the return of the four Israelis,” said MK Alex Kushnir of the Yisrael Beytenu party…“We must establish a new humanitarian equation, one demanded by the current reality. Israel and its leaders must not give up on the opportunity to return the bodies of the soldiers and bring them to burial in Israel,” Hauser said. Joint List MKs Ahmad Tibi and Ofer Cassif — who attended the discussion despite not being members of the committee — called the suggestion “a war crime.” “Preventing medical treatment is a war crime, a violation of international law, and even worse — it is an inhumane stance,” Cassif said.”
See also:
Israeli Lawmakers Divided Over Palestinian Request for COVID Vaccines (Haaretz)
Israel debates banning COVID-19 vaccines for Gaza until captives released (Jerusalem Post)

Israel’s obligation to Gaza in a pandemic and post-pandemic reality
“Israel is obligated to protect the health and safety of all people living under its control, including by ensuring that the vaccine is available in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. This will necessarily require close cooperation with Palestinian authorities and the international community, but their involvement does not absolve Israel from its ultimate responsibility toward Palestinians living under occupation. Where needed, Israel must contribute to covering the cost of the vaccine and its distribution, unconditionally.”

After delay, Israel allows transfer of first COVID vaccine doses to Gaza
Times of Israel
“Israeli authorities, after a two-day delay, transferred a consignment of Russian COVID-19 vaccines to Gaza on Wednesday following a formal request by the Palestinian Authority…The Prime Minister’s Office did not respond to a request for comment on the reason for the delay in the delivery, though some Israeli lawmakers had demanded conditioning the transfer of the vaccines on the return of Israeli captives held by Hamas.”
See also:
With Israel’s approval, Gaza to receive virus vaccine for first time (YNet)
After delay, Israel allows vaccines into Hamas-run Gaza (AP)
First coronavirus vaccines arrive in Gaza Strip following blockage by Israel (Washington Post)
Israel blocks delivery of truckload of coronavirus vaccines sent by PA to Gaza (Times of Israel)
UAE to Supply 20,000 Doses of Russian COVID Vaccine to Gaza
“A shipment of 20,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine are expected to arrive in the coming days to the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt and without Israeli involvement, the Palestinian Authority announced Thursday. The Russian-made Sputnik V vaccines will be transfered to Gaza through Egypt by the UAE.”

Israel approves COVID vaccines for undocumented persons, but not for Palestinians
+972 Magazine
“According to a statement published by the Health Ministry on Feb. 10, health clinics can provide COVID-19 vaccines to status-less individuals with documentation proving they have been in Israel for the past six months, as well as any undocumented person over the age of 50, regardless of how long they have been in the country. The statement simultaneously bars Palestinian workers or those illegally residing in Israel from receiving vaccinations. On Thursday, Feb. 18, following pressure from human rights groups, the Health Ministry issued a statement that Palestinians with work permits will be able to receive the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, although it remains unclear who will be in charge of administering them or when the vaccinations will begin. “These vaccines are intended for the undocumented person whose center of life is in Israel and cannot be vaccinated at HMOs because they are uninsured,” said Zoe Gutzeit, the director of the Open Clinic at Physicians for Human Rights-Israel. “The refusal to vaccinate undocumented Palestinians stems solely from the fact that they are Palestinian. There is no other way to explain this. Hostility to Palestinians outweighs public health considerations.””

SNL under fire after actor jokes that Israel only vaccinating Jews
Times of Israel
“Israeli officials and several major US Jewish groups on Sunday accused Saturday Night Live of spreading anti-Semitic tropes after one of its actors joked in a news segment that Israel has only been vaccinating its Jewish citizens. ‘Israel is reporting that they’ve vaccinated half of their population, and I’m gonna guess it’s the Jewish half,’ cracked Weekend Update co-host Michael Che to a chuckling audience.”
See also:
No, ‘Saturday Night Live’ Isn’t Inciting the Mass Murder of Jews (Haaretz)
Israel ambassador demands apology from SNL over controversial vaccination joke (The New Arab)
On Twitter:
Salem Barahmeh (PIPD): Some people are angrier at a joke than 5 million people not getting the vaccine.
Tania Hary (Gisha): You know what else isn’t funny? Millions of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank not having access to vaccines
Jacob Magid (Times of Israel): Could Michael Che have been more accurate? I guess. But the predictable freakout from organized US Jewry only leads to more questions regarding why Israel isn’t doing more to vaccinate the Palestinians. Own goal
Israel Secretly Agreed to Purchase Hundreds of Thousands of COVID Vaccines for Syria in Deal to Free Israeli
“Israel has agreed to purchase hundreds of thousands of Russian-made COVID vaccines that will be given to Syria, according to foreign reports. The pledge to buy the vaccines appeared in a secret clause of a deal with the Assad regime to release an Israeli woman who crossed the border into Syria…Joint List lawmaker Ahmad Tibi seemed to allude to reports about the deal on Twitter Friday , calling for vaccines to be sent to the Gaza Strip as well. ‘Must we wait for a Jew to cross the border into Gaza for us to get vaccinated?’ he wrote on Twitter. ‘There is another way. It’s international law and it’s humane. This is the same, continuous epidemiological region.’”
See also:
Netanyahu’s Vaccine Deal With Syria’s Assad Will Haunt Him in Dealings With Hamas (Haaretz)

A light unto the nations, and vaccines
Israel Hayom
“As always, Israel’s strength isn’t just a matter of its military and scientific might, but also its righteousness, specifically its humanitarian gestures toward its neighbors.”
Israel planning to 'use Covid-19 vaccines to buy normalisation'
The New Arab
“Israel may donate precious Covid-19 vaccine doses to an undisclosed Arab country in return for normalisation, the country’s Army Radio reported on Sunday. The vaccines would be given to Arab states after its own inoculation efforts have concluded, a government official told the Army Radio, despite providing no assistance to Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. One of those countries is a state with which Israel does not have diplomatic relations, the official said, rumoured to be Mauritania. Israel would offer that country Covid-19 vaccines in exchange for the normalisation of ties, the official explained without naming the nation.”
Palestinian COVID Vaccine Plan Faces Large Funding Gap, World Bank Says
“The Palestinians’ COVID-19 vaccination plan faces a $30 million funding shortfall, even after factoring in support from a global vaccine scheme for poorer economies, the World Bank said in a report on Monday.”

Israel agrees to vaccinate Palestinian workers, Palestinian officials say
Washington Post
“Israel, which has faced criticism from human rights groups for not extending its world-leading vaccination program to Palestinian territories under its control, agreed Friday to inoculate 100,000 Palestinians who regularly cross into Israel to work, according to the Palestinian minister of health.”

Gaza launches drive to roll out covid vaccine
Middle East Monitor
“The Palestinian Ministry of Health today launched a national vaccination campaign against corona virus. Patients deemed most at risk were inoculated in the first phase of the rollout of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccination, with former Palestinian Authority Minister of Health, Dr. Riyad Al-Zanoun, amongst the first to receive the injection…Medical staff will be among the first to receive the 2,000 doses of the vaccine which were allowed into Gaza late last week, days after it was due to arrive as a result of Israeli occupation forces blocking the transfer of the potentially life-saving medication. The vaccines were donated by Russia.”
See also:
UAE Transfers 20,000 Doses of Russia’s Sputnik V COVID Vaccine to Gaza (Haaretz)

Israel to Send 'Symbolic Amount' of COVID Vaccines to Palestinians, Other Countries
“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said on Tuesday that Israel will be transfering a ‘symbolic amount’ of coronavirus vaccines to the Palestinian Authority and to other countries. The vaccines given to the Palestinian Authority will be used to inoculate medical staff, the statement said…Israel will also send a few thousand doses of the vaccines to the Czech Republic, Guatemala, Honduras and Hungary. Honduras has announced its intention to move their embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, while the Czech Republic has said it plans to open a ‘diplomatic office’ in Jerusalem.”
See also:
Israel said to trade coronavirus vaccines for diplomatic support (Times of Israel)
Israel to hand surplus vaccine doses to Palestinians (Globes)
Israel giving ‘symbolic’ number of COVID vaccines to Palestinians, other nations (Ynet)

Hamas launches Gaza Strip’s coronavirus vaccination drive
The Times of Israel
“The Gaza Strip began its coronavirus vaccination drive on Monday following the arrival of the first vaccines to the enclave ruled by the Hamas terror group. Former health ministers and several medical workers were inoculated with Russia’s Sputnik V jabs in front of dozens of cameras. More medical workers and patients with chronic diseases are to start receiving injections on Tuesday.”

Israel starts vaccinating its East Jerusalem residents beyond security barrier
The Times of Israel
“Israel on Tuesday began vaccinating Palestinians in East Jerusalem who have Israeli residency cards but live beyond the security barrier that runs through the eastern half of the city. The vaccinations were carried out by Magen David Adom paramedics at the key Qalandiya crossing. Tens of thousands live beyond the barrier that snakes through the capital, which some health experts have suggested could make it more challenging for them to access the vaccine. MDA apparently chose to place the vaccination station by the crossing so as to increase accessibility to the vaccine to those who live beyond the barrier.”

Israel Gives Vaccine to Far-Off Allies, as Palestinians Wait
New York Times
“On Tuesday, the governments of the Czech Republic and Honduras confirmed that Israel had promised them each 5,000 vaccine doses manufactured by Moderna. The Israeli news media reported that Hungary and Guatemala would be sent a similar number, but the Hungarian and Israeli governments declined to comment, while the Guatemalan government did not respond to a request for comment. The donations are the latest example of a new expression of soft power: vaccine diplomacy, in which countries rich in vaccines seek to reward or sway those that have little access to them.

The vaccines allocated on Tuesday were given without conditions, but they tacitly reward recent gestures from the receiving countries that implicitly accept Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, which both Israelis and Palestinians consider their capital. Guatemala has moved its embassy to Jerusalem, while Honduras has pledged to do so. Hungary has set up a trade mission in Jerusalem, while the Czech Republic has promised to open a diplomatic office there.”
See also:
Israel to Send Thousands of Vaccines to Countries Opening Embassies in Jerusalem (Haaretz)
Israel gives countries that recognize Jerusalem as its capital covid vaccine (MEMO)

Number of countries Israel plans sending COVID vaccine rises to 19
“The number of countries Israel is planning to send surplus COVID-19 vaccinations in exchange for diplomatic support has risen to 19, according to Hebrew media sources on Wednesday. Nearly 100,000 doses in total are expected to be shipped outside of Israel, which were obtained earlier in the year by American biotechnology company Moderna, Israel’s public broadcaster Kan News reported.”

Health Minister urges United Nations to help step up provision of Covid-19 vaccine
“Health Minister Mai Alkaila today urged the United Nations (UN) to help step up the provision of Covid-19 vaccines to the occupied Palestinian territories….She briefed Hastings on the Covid-19 vaccination plan and the government’s efforts to secure vaccine doses from various sources as she urged international organizations to help expedite the provision of the vaccine to Palestine.”

European Union to support Palestine with 20 million euros for corona vaccines
“The European Union (EU) has expressed readiness to provide Palestine with 20 million euros to purchase corona vaccines, today said EU spokesman in Jerusalem Shadi Othman. He told WAFA that the EU declared in the virtual meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee of donor countries held yesterday that it is willing to support Palestine with 20 million euros to buy the vaccines.
The first batch of 20,000 doses of coronavirus vaccines, a donation of the United Arab Emirates, has arrived in the Gaza Strip this week, barely enough to inoculate one percent of its population, while the West Bank is still awaiting its share of the vaccine, which will be either purchased by the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority government or donated through COVAX.”

Israel Opens Vaccination Center at Checkpoint to Reach Palestinian East Jerusalem Residents
“Hundreds of people were vaccinated against the coronavirus Monday at a vaccination center set up by Israeli Emergency Responders, or Magen David Adom, at the Qalandiyah checkpoint to enable East Jerusalem residents who cannot enter Israel to get the shot….The center’s opening is part of a broad vaccination campaign MDA is conducting in predominantly Arab East Jerusalem in an effort to curb the worrisome rate of infection there….On Monday, 31 percent of the coronavirus tests from the Arab neighborhoods were positive, while on Tuesday it was 27 percent….Moreover, the vaccination rate in East Jerusalem is significantly lower than in the western part of the city: Only 27 percent of East Jerusalem residents have gotten the first shot, as compared to 57 percent of the city generally, while only 12 percent have received the second dose, compared to 37 percent of the city generally.”

Israel hatches plan to vaccinate Palestinian workers
Al Monitor
“Israel keeps sending mixed signals on vaccinating Palestinians. There have been positive signs as the country advances on vaccinating the 120,000 West Bank residents who work in Israel. It has also offered some vaccine doses to the Palestinian Authority to vaccinate health workers. However, there is still no comprehensive policy on the matter.”

Editorial | COVID-19 Vaccines for the Palestinians
“Seeing to the vaccination of the entire Palestinian population needs to be a top priority for Israel.”

Israeli Scientists Warn Pfizer CEO: Netanyahu May Exploit Your Visit for Election Campaign
“Senior Israeli scientists, doctors and academics have wrote letters urging the CEO of Pfizer, the manufacturer of the main coronavirus vaccine used in Israel, to postpone his visit to Israel due to fears that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will exploit his arrival for his campaign ahead of the country’s March 23 election. Albert Bourla is scheduled to arrive in Israel on March 8 at the invitation of Netanyahu.”

Israel halts vaccine transfer abroad amid legal scrutiny
“Israel announced Thursday the process of sending coronavirus vaccines to allied nations has been halted amid legal scrutiny as well as domestic and international criticism. The decision came after Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit sent a letter to National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat asking for clarifications about the program that would send 45,000 vaccines to 20 countries in what has been called “vaccine diplomacy”. ”
See also:
Israel freezes plan to send vaccines to foreign allies (Al Jazeera)
Palestinians condemn Israel’s move to send vaccines overseas (Al Jazeera)
Israel’s ‘vaccine diplomacy’ is a scandal, not Michael Che’s ‘SNL’ joke (Jerusalem Post)

West Bank hospitals under stress as 3rd coronavirus wave hits Palestinians hard
The Times of Israel
“Coronavirus cases continued to surge among West Bank Palestinians on Thursday as the Palestinian Authority weighed instituting yet another lockdown. “We’ve recommended a two-week lockdown, and the decision will be made by the Emergency Committee, which is considering the matter,” Palestinian Authority Health Minister Mai al-Kaila said in a statement. The West Bank’s health system is under strain as the number of cases in intensive care reaches new heights. Around 62 percent of PA ventilators are in use, al-Kaila said, setting a new record since the beginning of the pandemic. Across the West Bank, around 85.6% of hospital beds were in use, the minister added. “We are approaching the maximum occupancy rate, and we are currently working to expand the capacity of government and private hospitals,” al-Kaila said.”

Palestinian health minister recommends lockdown in the West Bank
“The Palestinian Health Ministry has recommended a two-week lockdown amid a surge in coronavirus infections across the West Bank. Palestinian Authority’s Health Minister Mai al-Kaila suggested Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh implement a comprehensive closure as positive cases have increased by some 20-30 percent, while hospital beds in several places are nearing full capacity, according to a statement on the ministry website.”

Task force says pandemic on rise again, warns of new worrisome New York variant
The Times of Israel
“Following the opening of much of the economy this week, the trend of declining infection rates has been halted, and certain indicators are once again trending upwards, a military-led coronavirus task force said Friday. Citing the data, the Coronavirus National Information and Knowledge Center, operating under Military Intelligence and the Health Ministry, recommended reassessing whether to continue plans to further ease restrictions in early March.”

Israel's closure of Covid clinic leaves 50,000 people at high risk
Middle East Eye
“The clinic, in Tel Aviv’s Neve Sha’anan neighbourhood, vaccinated 10,500 people in the 14 days it was open, welcoming anyone living in the country without residency or formal status. This included asylum seekers, migrant workers and Palestinians married in Israel without papers or reunited with their families. But the Israeli health ministry unexpectedly announced on Wednesday that “the site ha(d) exhausted its vaccine allocation of around 10,000 doses”, according to Haaretz, which said clinic staff were told “the allotment for this population has been used up.” Around 50,000 statusless people living in Israel are yet to be vaccinated, according to calculations by NGO Physicians for Human Rights Israel (PHRI). “It’s very difficult to handle this decision,” Barhana Nagsi, a Sudanese asylum seeker who chairs the Organisation of Asylum Seekers in Tel Aviv, told Middle East Eye. “We don’t speak the language, we don’t understand what’s going on and why they took such a discriminative decision against us.”

PA, Israel deny reports of a vaccination center on the Temple Mount
Jerusalem Post
“The Palestinian Authority and Israeli officials denied a report of a plan to open a vaccination complex on the Temple Mount. A KAN News report claimed that Israeli officials had sent a request to the PA and the (Jerusalem) Wakf Islamic religious trust asking to erect a coronavirus vaccine complex on the Temple Mount to inoculate Palestinian worshipers but that the request was denied due to opposition by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. An official from the PA and a senior official with the Jordanian-controlled administration of Jerusalem’s Wakf and al-Aqsa Mosque Affairs said they were unaware of any such request. The Health Ministry spokesperson said Health Minister Yuli Edelstein was unaware of such a request and that it is not customary for the PA to be involved in matters regarding Israel and the Temple Mount. The Foreign Ministry said it had no knowledge of such a request and the office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) referred the question to the Health Ministry.”

After harsh criticism, Israel says it will vaccinate Palestinians who hold work permits
New York Times
“Israeli medical teams will soon begin vaccinating Palestinians who have permits to work in Israel or in settlements in the occupied West Bank, according to a statement by the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, the Defense Ministry unit that is responsible for liaising with the Palestinians. There are approximately 80,000 Palestinians who have permits to work in Israel, and about 30,000 who have permits for work in the settlements. Most are construction workers, but some have jobs on farms or in factories, stores, restaurants and other workplaces. The tens of thousands of Palestinians who work in Israel without official documents would not be eligible for inoculations.”
See also:
Yousef Munayyer on Twitter: This is 2.5% of the Israeli Occupied Palestinian population that Israel is legally obligated to. The remaining 97.5% continue to wait as Palestinian hospitals are at capacity. Worth noting that the vast majority of these workers are between 20 & 55. Instead of prioritizing the most vulnerable Palestinians to covid, (the elderly) Israel is prioritizing the captive labor force they both need and see as a risk to them. Entirely about Israel’s interests.
Palestinians Go Into New Lockdown While Awaiting Vaccines (New York Times)
Oxfam: Israel’s vaccine export deal “shameful” as nearly 5m Palestinians wait (WAFA)

Palestinian Authority to impose partial 12-day lockdown over West Bank
i24 News
“Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh on Saturday declared a partial lockdown in the West Bank planned for at least 12 days as coronavirus cases continue to rise in the territory. The confinement plan is set to start on Sunday along with a nightly curfew from scheduled for 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. Schools and universities will remain closed and classes will take place by Zoom. Companies will only 50 percent of their employees to be present at work. In addition, Palestinian citizens will not be allowed to move from city to city, and Arab-Israelis will not be able to travel to the West Bank…According to the Palestinian Authority’s Health Ministry, 12,015 active patients have been identified in the West Bank, twice as many from the previous two weeks. The ministry also said that an estimated 24 percent of the screening tests came back positive on Saturday.”
See also:
Palestinians shut West Bank schools to contain coronavirus variants (Israel Hayom)

Purim celebrations threaten fresh virus outbreak in Israel
Associated Press
“Mass gatherings took place in Jerusalem on Sunday as Israelis celebrated the Jewish holiday of Purim in violation of coronavirus restrictions. Authorities had been concerned about a repeat of last year, when Purim celebrations helped fuel an initial wave of the coronavirus in the earliest days of the global pandemic. The government urged people to celebrate at home this year, and police attempted to block traffic from entering Jerusalem and declared strict limits on public gatherings. But the restrictions were not able to prevent street parties as well as mass prayer celebrations in ultra-Orthodox areas, which have repeatedly flouted safety rules. With traffic clogged at the entrance of Jerusalem, Israeli TV stations showed videos of ultra-Orthodox families walking along the side of the highway into the city.”
See also:
With Rise in Infections, Health Officials Weigh Slowing Down Israel’s COVID Lockdown Exit Plan (Haaretz)

Gaza launches vaccination drive amid low turnout
“The few numbers — 10,000 so far — that were registered with the Ministry of Health to receive the vaccine are due to concerns over complications by the recently manufactured vaccine. Citizens also fear counterfeit vaccines that have begun to spread in some countries around the world.”


In East Jerusalem, vaccine turnout climbs — but lags behind infection rates
The Times of Israel
“Issawiya, one of East Jerusalem’s poorest neighborhoods, has led the coronavirus vaccination charge over the past two weeks, health officials say. The surge in vaccinations was aided by Magen David Adom, together with local leaders, who worked together to set up a vaccination center in a local middle school. “People here have started to realize that the vaccine is not going to hurt them. They saw their relatives get vaccinated and there was no harm done,” said local leader Omar Atiyeh. East Jerusalem Palestinians have lagged behind the rest of the capital in being immunized. Around 61% of Jerusalemites currently eligible for a vaccine have received at least one dose: 45% among Palestinians, 54% among ultra-Orthodox, and 76% among those who belong to the so-called “general public” — neither Arab nor Haredi.”

As Vaccination Rates Among Israeli Arabs Increase, So Do Coronavirus Cases
“Dr. Mohammad Khatib, an expert in public health at the Zefat Academic College, explains that most of the newly infected people were not inoculated, a fact that attests to the effectiveness of the vaccine. However, he said, “We’re seeing an increase in the number of infections, mainly among young people.” He attributes the rise among this demographic to the more contagious U.K. COVID strain.”

Israel's Vaccine Apartheid
Haaretz – Amira Hass
“While we are in the respectable first place worldwide in inoculating citizens and residents – the fact remains that Israel has excluded some 4.5 million Palestinians from the population it inoculates, although they all live under its rule. The government continues to claim that it is not responsible for their health. And so here’s a reminder: Each of those 4.5 million people is registered in the Palestinian population registry controlled by Israel .”

Israel denies COVID vaccine to Palestinian student at Tel Aviv University
+972 Magazine
“The Palestinian student, who asked to remain anonymous in order to protect her safety, said that upon receiving the email, she inquired with her program whether she was eligible for the vaccination. After receiving a positive response, she began to plan her journey to the university — a trip she has to make regularly to get to her classes, as a Palestinian living in the occupied Palestinian territories with a travel permit authorized by the Israeli army. She left her home at 4 a.m. “I passed seven checkpoints, switched transportation eight times, walked in crazy weather, and reached the university at 9:30 a.m.” …

    In a letter sent to the university administration, the student described how she waited at the university’s makeshift vaccine site for six hours, and how she was given a number of excuses as to why she could not receive the vaccine, including her lack of Israeli health insurance, the inability to receive such health insurance as a Palestinian, and even the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority over supplying the latter with vaccinations for Palestinians in the West Bank. …

    “During that long day, many approached me to express their apologies,” she wrote in her letter to the university. “I don’t have a problem with individuals, on the contrary, they were very nice and supportive.” She said that one university representative even offered to compensate her for the travel expenses from the West Bank to Tel Aviv, an offer the student found insulting. “I want justice and equality, not charity,” she wrote to the university.”

Israel starts vaccinating Palestinian workers after delays
Al Jazeera
“Israel, which has faced criticism for excluding Palestinians from its vaccination campaign, started to inoculate Palestinians working in the country and in settlements in the occupied West Bank, more than two months after launching an immunisation blitz of its own population. Palestinian labourers who crossed into Israel at several occupied West Bank checkpoints received their first doses of the Moderna vaccine on Monday. Some 100,000 Palestinian labourers from the West Bank work in Israel and its settlements, which are considered illegal under international law.”
See also:
Israel postpones roll-out of COVID vaccine to Palestinian workers(Al Jazeera)

Ramallah, nearby villages enter lockdown until March 14
Jerusalem Post
“A tight lockdown was imposed on Ramallah and adjacent villages until March 14, N12 reported on Saturday.The closure was imposed in an attempt to decrease morbidity rates that have been rising in the area in the past few days amid the coronavirus pandemic.”

Following pressure, Israel begins vaccination drive for Palestinian workers
+972 Magazine
“After weeks of delays, Israel on Monday finally launched a two-week campaign to vaccinate the 100,000 Palestinians from the occupied West Bank who work in Israel. Hundreds of Palestinians arrived at the Meitar checkpoint in the southern West Bank on Monday morning to receive the vaccination. After checking their entry permits and registering them, Israeli soldiers medical personnel vaccinated the workers on the Israeli side of the checkpoint. According to the Coordinator of Government Operations in the Occupied Territories, any worker will be able to be vaccinated at six different checkpoints across the West Bank, with prior coordination between the employer and with the relevant authorities.”

Israel said renewing vaccine diplomacy, to send extra shots to friendly nations
The Times of Israel
“Israel is renewing a plan to supply surplus coronavirus vaccines to a group of friendly nations, the Kan public broadcaster reported on Monday. The report came two weeks after the effort was halted by legal officials, who said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not have the authority to authorize the moves without consulting with the cabinet. Israel is now negotiating with 20 countries and Moderna to send up to 100,000 vaccine doses abroad, according to criteria laid out by the attorney general, the report said, noting that there was some urgency to the move as the doses were due to expire by the end of May.

    Israel has surplus doses that it purchased from Moderna before signing an agreement with Pfizer for rapid delivery of enough doses to inoculate the entire population in exchange for sharing the medical data with Pfizer. It was the latest twist in a saga that has raised questions about Netanyahu’s decision-making authority as well as his move to help far-flung nations in Africa and Latin America at a time when the neighboring Palestinian territories are struggling to secure their own vaccine supplies. The plan has also illustrated how at a time of global shortages, the vaccine has become an asset that can be used for diplomatic gain.”

COVID Doesn't Care About the Green Line. Israel Must Vaccinate All Palestinians
Haaretz Editorial
“Israel has a responsibility – epidemiological, moral and legal (deriving from an occupier’s obligations under the Geneva Convention) – toward all the Palestinians in the territories, not just those who work for it. Any attempt to evade this responsibility will contribute toward continued incidence of the coronavirus within Israel. But no less important, it will provide evidence of the irrationality and immorality that underlies Israel’s occupation regime. If Israel controls the entire area – which it certainly does – and all the entrances to it, then it has a duty to ensure the welfare and well-being of everyone who lives in this area. The Palestinians are not only labor in our construction sites and factories; they are also human beings who deserve protection against the virus.”

Palestinian hospitals fill up as Israel loosens COVID-19 restrictions
” Palestinian hospitals are overfull and intensive-care units operating at 100% capacity with coronavirus patients in some areas of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said on Tuesday. Palestinian cities have introduced full lockdowns over the last two weeks to control soaring COVID-19 infections, even as neighbouring Israel has begun to lift restrictions as it proceeds with one of the world’s fastest vaccination campaigns. “The percentage of hospital occupancy in some areas has reached more than 100%,” Shtayyeh said in Ramallah, one of the West Bank cities where his Palestinian Authority (PA) exercises limited self-rule. “The number of casualties is increasing and the number of deaths is increasing on a daily basis, forcing us to take strict, direct and unprecedented measures.””
See also:
West Bank Faces Overcrowded Hospitals, Vaccine Shortage as COVID Cases Surge (Haaretz)

Israel to Vaccinate Palestinians Without Legal Residency Against COVID
“Palestinians who are living in Israel without legal residency may receive the coronavirus vaccine, the Health Ministry told Physicians for Human Rights on Tuesday.The group, which Physicians for Human Rights estimates number in the thousands, comprises of Palestinians in many different situations: at-risk groups such as suspected collaborators with Israel and those who left the Palestinian territories because of their sexuality, as well as Palestinians who lack legal residency status but whose “center of life” is in Israel because of marriage.”

Netanyahu Took a Gamble on Reopening, and the Cost of His COVID Policy Will Only Be Clear After Election
“It’s impossible to separate the hasty, large-scale reopening of the economy and the schools at the start of this week, following months of lockdowns that caused major economic and psychological damage, from the Knesset election that will take place on March 23. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coronavirus policy is meant primarily to create an appearance of returning to normalcy.”

Israel, UAE to establish 'quarantine-free travel corridor' amid COVID restrictions
Jerusalem Post
“The UAE announced on Wednesday that it is in ‘formal discussions to establish a quarantine-free travel corridor’ with Israel. The UAE would recognize Israeli vaccination certificates for COVID-19, and vice versa. The countries’ foreign ministries hope to implement the agreement in April, the UAE Foreign Ministry stated. Israel and the UAE are the countries with the world’s fastest COVID-19 vaccination campaigns.”

Palestinians overwhelmed with Covid-19 patients as Israel loosens restrictions
Middle East Monitor
“Palestinian hospitals and intensive-care units are overwhelmed by rising numbers of coronavirus patients in some areas of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh announced yesterday. ‘The percentage of hospital occupancy in some areas is more than 100 per cent of their official capacity,’ said Shtayyeh. ‘The number of casualties is increasing and the number of deaths is increasing on a daily basis, forcing us to take strict, direct, and unprecedented measures.’ While Palestinian cities have introduced full lockdowns over the past two weeks to control rising Covid-19 infections, Israel has started opening restaurants, bars, and cafes as it eases its lockdown restrictions. Israel has given 53 per cent of its 9 million population at least one dose of the Pfizer vaccine, according to Health Ministry data, and 38 per cent have received both doses.”
See also:
Palestine records highest single-day virus death toll (Al Andolu)
Palestine records 1,291 Covid-19 cases, 18 deaths (Wafa)
Palestine to receive 100,000 doses of Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine (Wafa)
Health Minister urges COVAX to reconsider vaccine rollout policy (Wafa)
Palestinian Authority reimposes lockdowns amid lack of vaccines (Al-Monitor)
Palestinian PM makes international appeal for coronavirus vaccines (YNet)
West Bank Faces Overcrowded Hospitals, Vaccine Shortage as COVID Cases Surge (Haaretz)
For Gaza’s most vulnerable, home is no safe place for COVID-19 recovery
+972 Magazine
“In Gaza, 53 percent of Palestinians live on less than $4.60 a day, and around 62 percent of households are moderately or severely food insecure, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the occupied Palestinian territories. Families living under the poverty line often purchase food on credit, or rely on relatives and friends for help. The picture only gets worse when a poor family has to quarantine at home. Poverty has forced families to live the risks of COVID-19 with no protection and minimum access to healthcare. With the loss of family members’ daily wages, securing necessities such as medication, food, and hygienic materials becomes even more difficult. Many families can only rely on the aid they receive from nongovernmental organizations, which is barely sufficient during the home isolation period. Many living under harsh economic conditions are also forced to borrow money from relatives and friends, and struggle to pay back their debts even after coming out of quarantine.”

Settler head urges vaccinating Palestinians, paid for by tax revenues sent to PA
Times of Israel
“A prominent settler leader on Monday called on Israel to vaccinate Palestinians in the West Bank and pay for it by deducting the cost from the tax revenues Jerusalem transfers to Ramallah. The statement from David Elhayani, who chairs the Yesha umbrella council of settler mayors, followed a meeting he held in his office at the Jordan Valley Regional Council with Muhammad Arif Masad, an anti-Palestinian Authority activist who heads a union representing Palestinian workers in Israel and the settlements…Masad has become a marginalized figure among Palestinians in the West Bank due to his willingness to cooperate not just with Israelis within the Green Line but with settler leaders as well.”

Israel Vaccinated Over 50,000 Palestinians With Israeli Work Permits Against COVID
“Over 50,000 Palestinians with permits to work in Israel and West Bank settlements have received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, according to a joint statement by the Israeli Health Ministry and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) released last Thursday.”

Number of new coronavirus cases, deaths in Palestine on the rise (WAFA)

After pressure, Health Ministry agrees to vaccinate Palestinian student (+972 Magazine)

Gaza receives second shipment of COVID vaccines from UAE (Arab News)

Amid brewing regional tensions, Israel begins vaccinating 700 Jordanian workers (Washington Post)

First batch of COVAX-supplied vaccines arrives for Palestinians
“The Palestinian Authority on Wednesday received its first batch of vaccines from the global COVAX sharing initiative, in a boost to inoculations in the occupied West Bank and Gaza lagging far behind Israel’s campaign…The vaccines shipped to Tel Aviv were the first sent by the WHO to the Palestinians under the COVAX drive it set up with the GAVI vaccine alliance to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccinations globally.”
See also:
Sixty Thousand COVID Vaccines Land in Israel, en Route to Palestinians (Haaretz)
Palestinian Authority receives 61,440 vaccine doses through WHO program (Times of Israel)

Top Court Strikes Down COVID Restrictions on Citizens' Entry and Departure From Israel
“Israel’s High Court ruled Wednesday that the 3,000 person quota for arrivals to Israel and limitations on leaving the country for those who have not yet been vaccinated for the coronavirus is unconstitutional. A panel of judges led by Supreme Court President Esther Hayut ruled that Israel cannot extend the limitations after they expire on Sunday – two days before Israel’s election.”
See also:
Israel’s High Court cancels airport quotas (Globes)
High Court annuls daily cap on number of citizens allowed to return to Israel (Times of Israel)

After pressure, Health Ministry agrees to vaccinate Palestinian student
+972 Magazine
“Three weeks after she was denied a COVID-19 vaccination by Israel’s Health Ministry, a Palestinian student living in the occupied West Bank who studies at Tel Aviv University finally received the vaccine. As Local Call first reported three weeks ago, Tel Aviv University initiated a vaccination drive for faculty, staff, and students, including foreign students. Nadia Sabaana, a resident of the northern West Bank and a graduate student studying in the Tel Aviv Business Administration program, arrived on campus to get the vaccine, but was repeatedly turned away by the medical staff running the vaccine drive.”

With Nearly Half of Israelis Fully Vaccinated, Coronavirus Cases Plummet
“Israel’s vaccination campaign was dramatically reflected in key coronavirus indicators on Wednesday, as daily COVID-19 cases, the rate of infection and the percentage of positive tests continued to plummet, according to data sets from the Health Ministry and the Israeli army. According to the data, the R-number – the average number of people each coronavirus carrier infects – dropped to 0.7, the lowest figure in months. “

Covid-19: West Bank hospitals inundated while Israel tosses surplus vaccines
Middle East Eye
“Palestinians describe scenes in hospitals reminiscent of ‘war zones’, calling out both Israel and the Palestinian Authority for inaction in the occupied territory.”

Covid-19: West Bank receives first Covax vaccine doses
Middle East Eye
“World Health Organisation’s vaccine-sharing initiative adds 62,000 doses to the occupied West Bank’s struggling inoculation programme.”

With most adults vaccinated, Israel’s large inoculation centers start to close
Times of Israel
“With the vast majority of Israelis age 16 and up already vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19, big vaccination centers in the country’s main cities have started to close as the focus shifts to smaller, mobile stations in smaller communities. More than 5.1 million of Israel’s 9.3 million population have received at least one vaccine dose, and over 4.5 million have gotten both shots.”

Palestinians roll out vaccines as virus cases spike
The New Arab
“Thousands of Palestinian health workers, the elderly, and patients with cancer or kidney disease were set to get Covid-19 vaccines from Sunday as the health ministry ramped up its inoculation campaign. The rollout came days after some 60,000 doses of Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca arrived in the Israeli-occupied West Bank via the Covax scheme of the World Health Organisation. Cases of Covid-19 have spiked in the enclave in recent weeks, sparking a flood of patients hospital officials say they are struggling to treat.”
See also:
Palestinians expand vaccination campaign after UN shipment (AP News)

Gaza reporting a rise in COVID-19 cases, while numbers drop in East Jerusalem
“The Gaza Strip recorded 450 new cases, one death, and 106 recoveries also in 24 hours, while East Jerusalem reported 191 new cases, no deaths, and 486 recoveries recorded over three days…A total of 8157 people have been vaccinated so far in the West Bank since the start of the vaccination on Sunday, and 13,576 people were vaccinated in the Gaza Strip.”

Palestinian Authority ups COVID-19 vaccination drive
“The Palestinian Authority (PA) greatly increased its COVID-19 vaccination campaign on Sunday after receiving thousands of doses via the World Health Organization. The Palestinian Health Ministry began administering its vaccine doses obtained through the World Health Organization’s COVAX program to health workers and the elderly in the West Bank and Gaza, The Associated Press reported. COVAX is an initiative to provide less-wealthy countries with vaccines against the coronavirus. Last week, the PA received more than 60,000 doses through the program. The shipment contained both Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines. The PA plans to obtain enough doses through COVAX to vaccinate 1 million people, which would be 20% of its population, according to the PA’s WAFA News Agency."

Palestine records 2,032 new coronavirus cases, 23 deaths
“Palestine today recorded 2,032 new Covid-19 cases and 23 deaths, according to Health Minister Mai Al-Kaileh. She announced that 2,032 Palestinians tested positive for the highly contagious virus and 23 others died of it in the occupied territories. Among the new 2,032 cases, 1,518 cases were recorded in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and 514 others in the besieged Gaza Strip.”

PODCAST: LRB Conversations - "Separateness"
London Review of Books - Mouin Rabbani, Nathan Thrall, and Adam Shatz
“Mouin Rabbani and Nathan Thrall talk to Adam Shatz about Israel’s vaccination programme, the system of apartheid that now effectively exists between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea, the legacy of Trump’s policies, and how the Biden administration may or may not exert its influence.”

NGOs ask court to force Israel to provide vaccines for all Palestinians
Jerusalem Post
“Six left-wing NGOs have petitioned the High Court of Justice to force the state of Israel to provide enough vaccines to the Palestinian Authority to inoculate its entire population. ‘Evidently, the Palestinian Authority has an insufficient number of vaccines, whereas in what is practically the same area, the population of Israeli citizens and residents is almost fully vaccinated, apart from those who decline it’ the NGOs stated in the petition submitted Thursday by attorney Adi Lustigman. Those signed onto the petition were: Physicians for Human Rights Israel; HaMoked: Center for the Defense of the Individual; Al Mezan Center for Human Rights; Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement; Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel; and Rabbis for Human Rights.”

Gaza coronavirus numbers on the rise as new daily cases exceed the 800 mark
“The number of new coronavirus cases in the Gaza Strip continued to rise today and reach 815 patients and five deaths recorded in the last 24 hours, while 156 patients have recovered, today said Health Minister Mai Alkaila.”

Gaza enters second coronavirus wave, with 25% of tests coming back positive
Times of Israel
“With cases spiking, the Gaza Strip has entered a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, health officials in the coastal enclave told The Times of Israel on Monday. Gaza saw 815 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours, the Gaza Health Ministry reported on Monday. The total number of active infections nearly tripled over the past two weeks, from 2,291 to 6,619. The daily rate of positive tests in Gaza has skyrocketed to 25 percent over the past 24 hours, according to Hamas health officials. The high positivity rate indicates that the virus is likely spreading widely undetected.”

Israel: Positive test ratio falls off below 1% as country adds 356 new coronavirus cases
i24 News
“In Israel, the positive coronavirus test ratio fell off below the one percent mark on Monday, the Health Ministry reports – a low unseen in weeks. Out of over 42,000 tests conducted yesterday, only 0.9 percent returned positive, the ministry reported Tuesday morning, adding 356 new confirmed infections to the country’s total. The number of active infections in the country is now just above 8,000, with only 638 patients currently in hospitals.”

Hamas, Israel to cooperate on plan to vaccinate 7,000 Gaza traders (YNet)

Palestinian Authority receives 100,000 doses of China’s Sinopharm vaccine (Times of Israel)

Israel’s border crossing to Egypt reopens for first time since COVID-19 outbreak (Times of Israel)

Palestinian Authority receives more vaccine doses from China
“The Palestinian Authority received more COVID-19 vaccine doses on Tuesday. Palestinian Health Minister Mai al-Kaileh said they received 100,000 doses of China’s Sinopharm vaccine, according to the PA’s WAFA News Agency. Both the PA in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip have been administering vaccine doses to protect the Palestinian population from the coronavirus. The PA, which is the internationally recognized representative of the Palestinian people, expanded its vaccine drive this month after receiving 60,000 doses via the World Health Organization. The vaccine campaign began in Gaza in February after the arrival of doses from Russia and the United Arab Emirates.”

Israeli coronavirus mutation discovered in the country
Jerusalem Post
“So far, some 181 people are known to have been infected with the mutation, according to the paper, but health officials believe there could be hundreds more who were infected with the virus. Nonetheless, the British variant remains the dominant strain in Israel, still constituting at least 90% of all cases. The strain has not been associated with higher infection rates nor does it appear to cause more serious illness. Furthermore, the Pfizer vaccine appears effective against it.”

Israel endorses international plan to vaccinate 7,000 Gaza traders
“Publications today indicate that Jerusalem has approved an international operation to vaccinate against the coronavirus thousands of traders from the Gaza Strip so that they can cross the border into Israel and travel to the West Bank. The operation is designed not only to reduce the growing spread of the pandemic in the Strip, but also to kickstart the Palestinian territories’ struggling economy — two motivations that both Israel and Hamas share. The outline agreed upon reportedly foresees the setup of a vaccination center at the Gaza Erez crossing point on the Israeli side. The center will be manned by foreign medical teams, probably by a humanitarian/relief organization. The Palestinian traders will be vaccinated with Pfizer doses, which is the same vaccine used by Israel in its immunization drive and recognized by Israeli authorities for the sake of the green passport system. Qatar will fund the purchase of the 14,000 doses for the two phases of vaccination of the 7,000 traders.”


Official warns of ‘dangerous’ situation in Gaza amid surge in COVID-19 cases
Palestine News Network
“With Israel’s blockade in place and amid hard times of the coronavirus pandemic, the ‘epidemiological situation’in the besieged Gaza Strip is now ‘dangerous,’ says Magdy Dahir, deputy director of primary care at the Gaza Health Ministry. The ministry on Wednesday stated that over 1,060 coronavirus cases had been registered during the past 24 hours, the highest daily figure in several months.”
See also:
Gaza Strip sees alarming spike in coronavirus cases (Al Anadolu)

World Bank, France and Germany pledge $52 million to support Palestinian municipalities against COVID-19 crisis
“The French Agency for Development, the German Development Bank (KfW) and the World Bank today signed financing and project agreements worth $52 with the Palestinian Government to support the Palestinian response against the COVID19 pandemic at the local level.”

Why is The Forward afraid of criticizing Israel’s discriminatory vaccine policy?
+972 Magazine – Sari Bashi
“…In my piece, I argued that while the government is vaccinating Palestinian citizens of Israel and Palestinians in East Jerusalem, its exclusion of 5 million Palestinians living in the occupied territories from its COVID-19 vaccine distribution program is based on ethnic criteria. More than that, I argued that this policy is based on the Israeli government’s engineering of its citizenship laws, which grant automatic Israeli citizenship to Jews who move to Israel-Palestine…Following publication, I received multiple requests from The Forward editors to ‘clarify’ my piece, including by withdrawing my central claim. Even after two rounds of post-publication edits, the site added an editor’s note that effectively repudiated the article’s argument and denied the ethnic discrimination baked into Israel’s vaccine campaign. Instead, the note sought to reframe the issue as a debate over Israeli obligations to Palestinians under the international law of belligerent occupation. The editors told me they added the note to clear up ‘confusion.’”

‘Like a Miracle’: Israel’s Vaccine Success Allows Easter Crowds in Jerusalem
New York Times
“..The mood among Christians a few miles away, in the Palestinian cities of Bethlehem and Ramallah, was even less jubilant. Christians in the occupied territories can visit Jerusalem only with a special permit, which has become even harder to procure during the pandemic. While most Israelis are now vaccinated, the vast majority of Palestinians haven’t received a dose. Israel has supplied vaccines to more than 100,000 Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank, almost all of whom work in Israel or West Bank settlements. Palestinian officials have obtained around 150,000 more doses.” Also see: Israel Returns to Sanity, but Ignores Rising COVID Infection in the West Bank and Gaza (Haaretz)

Palestine records highest daily COVID-19 infection rate: 2,800 new cases, 25 deaths
“Minister of Health Mai Alkaila said today that a total of 2,806 new coronavirus cases were registered in Palestine, the highest number since the first outbreak of the pandemic last year. In addition, 25 deaths and 1589 recoveries were reported in the past 24 hours. She said in her daily report on coronavirus in Palestine that 1628 new cases, two deaths, and 272 recoveries were recorded in the besieged Gaza Strip, while 1178 new cases, 23 deaths, and 1628 recoveries were reported in the West Bank.”
See also:
President Abbas extends state of emergency in Palestine over coronavirus for 30 more days (WAFA)

As Israel Races Toward Herd Immunity, a Palestinian Town Teeters Under the Weight of COVID
“Few Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have been vaccinated, explaining why the hospitals in Tul Karm are filling up as people die and the city remains under curfew”
See also:
Israel could start vaccinating children against COVID-19 in coming weeks, top official says (i24 News)

Alarm bells start to ring in Gaza amid COVID-19 surge
Al Anadolu
“Reeling under a 14-year Israeli blockade, the Gaza Strip is witnessing a dangerous spike in the daily coronavirus infections and fatalities in recent days. Israel, which has vaccinated most of its citizens against the pandemic, does not provide the COVID-19 vaccine to the Gaza Strip as well as the occupied West Bank. To date, 81,600 doses of vaccine, mostly donated by other countries, have reached Gaza and only 24,000 people have been vaccinated in the territory. The Palestinian health system, which is already in a difficult situation due to the Israeli blockade, is on the verge of collapse amid a severe shortage of medicines and equipment. One out of every three tests conducted in recent days in Gaza City came back positive, according to data by the Health Ministry.”

COVID infection rate falls to lowest level since May 2020
Arutz Sheva
“A total of 303 new cases of the coronavirus were diagnosed across Israel Tuesday, according to data released by the Health Ministry Wednesday morning. Just 0.5% of tests conducted Tuesday came back positive, down from 0.7% of tests carried out Monday. That is the lowest level recorded since May 24th last year, when the percentage of tests coming back positive hit 0.4%. There are now just 4,888 known active cases of the virus in Israel, of which 481 are being treated in hospitals.”

Palestine records 2,672 Covid-19 cases, 18 deaths
“Palestine today recorded 2,672 new Covid-19 cases and 18 deaths, according to Health Minister Mai Al-Kaileh. She announced that 2,672 Palestinians tested positive for the highly contagious virus and 18 others died of it in the occupied territories. Among the new 2,672 cases, 756 cases were recorded in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and 1,916 others in the besieged Gaza Strip.”

Miriam Adelson becomes richest Israeli as COVID year boosts world’s billionaires
Times of Israel
“The 2021 Forbes list of the world’s billionaires and richest people, published Tuesday, shows an unprecedented surge in wealth among global tycoons during the coronavirus pandemic, with an Israeli-American woman who wasn’t even on the list last year becoming the wealthiest new billionaire in the world. Miriam Adelson, the widow of casino mogul and GOP megadonor Sheldon Adelson, who died in January, inherited most of the latter’s fortune and leaped to a net worth of $38.2 billion, becoming the richest Israeli, fifth-richest woman and 36th-richest person in the world.”

Hamas Orders Lockdown in Gaza as COVID Infections Spike
“The Hamas government has declared a total lockdown in the Gaza Strip, starting Wednesday evening, due to the sharp rise in the number of new coronavirus infections. Interior Ministry spokesman Iyad al-Bazem said that security forces would strictly enforce the lockdown and clamp down on any infringement. The lockdown is scheduled to begin at 9 P.M. Wednesday, ending at 6 A.M. on Friday of next week. The lockdown will be total and only essential businesses will remain open, including pharmacies and bakeries, as well as stores selling food. All government services will be suspended, with a total closure of all educational institutions, from preschools to universities, until further notice.”
See also:
Coronavirus rages in Gaza, with record tally of new daily cases (Ynet)

Gaza’s second wave: 35% of coronavirus tests positive, mass vaccination far off
The Times of Israel
“Even as Israel heads toward herd immunity, the Gaza Strip is seeing coronavirus infections reach record heights, with only enough vaccines for some two percent of the population. “We began to enter this wave of coronavirus during March. Right now, we’re still seeing a rise in infections and in serious cases, and we expect that number to continue to rise,” said Rami al-Abadleh, one of the officials charged with overseeing the anti-coronavirus effort in the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry.”

WEBINAR: “Medical Apartheid”: COVID Vaccinations Under Occupation
FMEP - Dr. Yara Asi & Ghada Majadli
Israel’s program of vaccinating its citizens against COVID-19 has been touted worldwide as a great success. Yet, Israel has rejected any responsibility for providing or even facilitating vaccines for the millions of Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, despite the fact that from1967 through the present day Israel exercises overarching control over these areas (and despite the fact that Israel has provided vaccines for its own citizens living in illegal West Bank settlements). The results speak for themselves. Israel today is reopening its economy, schools, and airport. Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority, facing all the obstacles that Israeli occupation entails, continues to struggle to obtain vaccines and to roll out a vaccination program of its own, while the West Bank is undergoing yet another lockdown and the Gaza Strip is being ravaged by a second COVID wave. Experts are aptly describing the situation as “medical apartheid.”

Pfizer reportedly halts shipment of 700,000 COVID vaccine doses to Israel after it fails to pay
“Pfizer halted a shipment of 700,000 COVID vaccine doses to Israel, alleging that the country has not paid for a previous shipment of 2.5 million doses. The Jerusalem Post reported Monday that the shipment was supposed to arrive this past Sunday but was indefinitely delayed pending payment. Israel paid for its first 10 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine soon after they were made available, helping the country earn the world’s highest vaccination rate. But when its supplies began to dwindle in February, Israel secured a deal with Pfizer for additional doses. Israel has spent 2.6 billion shekels, or nearly $700 million, on vaccines so far, according to the Post.”

Amnesty pans Israeli ‘discrimination’ in not vaccinating Palestinians
The Times of Israel
“Amnesty International on Wednesday accused Israel of “institutionalized discrimination” for vaccinating its own citizens but not inoculating the five million Palestinians living in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. “This move flagrantly violated Israel’s obligations as an occupying power under international law,” the rights group said in a statement.”

The US media is touting Israel's Covid recovery. But occupied Palestinians are left out
The Guardian – Yara Asi
“At some point, potentially in the near future, the current pandemic will end. The global attention on vaccines will dissipate. The disparities between Israelis and Palestinians, however, will persist. As with the vaccine shortages, these disparities are largely artificial and induced by political decisions. Global attention must remain on the core issues causing Palestinians to be less healthy than their Israeli counterparts. Asking Palestinians, nearly half of whom are children, to pay for political stagnation with shortened and less healthy lives has been tolerated for too long and should remain unacceptable when the pandemic is over.”

Coronavirus in Israel: 86 new cases, 0.8% of tests return positive
Jerusalem Post
“Some 86 new cases of the novel coronavirus were reported in Israel on Saturday, with 0.8% of tests returning positive, according to a Sunday morning update by the Health Ministry. Of those infected, 263 were in serious condition and 139 were on ventilators. The death toll stood at 6,294.”

Palestine records 2,762 new coronavirus cases, 26 deaths
“Palestine today recorded 2,762 new Covid-19 cases and 26 deaths, according to Health Minister Mai Alkaila. She announced that 2,762 Palestinians tested positive for the highly contagious virus and 26 others died of it in the occupied territories. Among the new 2,762 cases, 998 cases were recorded in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and 1,764 others in the besieged Gaza Strip…Regarding the Covid-19 vaccination rollout, Alkaila said that 146,986 people have received the vaccine so far; 113,958 people in the West Bank, 33,028 in the Gaza Strip, while noting that 14,674 people received the second dose of the vaccine.”

Palestine records 1,911 Covid-19 cases, 18 deaths
“Palestine today recorded 1,911 new Covid-19 cases and 18 deaths, according to Health Minister Mai Al-Kaileh. She announced that 1,911 Palestinians tested positive for the highly contagious virus and 18 others died of it in the occupied territories, raising the total number of confirmed cases and fatalities since the pandemic outbreak to 299,636 and 3,150 respectively.”

Government eases lockdown measures during Ramadan, keeps night curfew
“The Palestinian Government announced today a partial easing of the lockdown measures taken over the COVID-19 outbreak during the upcoming holy fasting month of Ramadan”

Less than 3,370 active coronavirus cases in Israel
Arutz Sheva
“Israel on Monday diagnosed a total of 217 new coronavirus cases, representing 0.4% of the 60,766 test results received that day, Health Ministry data showed. A total of five people have died since Monday – three on Monday and two so far – on Tuesday, bringing the number of coronavirus deaths in Israel to 6,304.”

Vaccinated foreigners to be allowed into Israel in May
Jerusalem Post
“Vaccinated tourists are going to be allowed into Israel starting from May 23, the Health and Tourism ministries announced on Tuesday. In the first phase, only individuals traveling in groups will be able to enter the country, as they are considered easier to monitor. According to the statement, the authorities will decide whether to also include regular visitors based on the results of the pilot with groups.”

Top health official: Israel to drop outdoor mask requirement
“Head of public health Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis says people must still wear masks in enclosed spaces, public gatherings; says Health Ministry mulling vaccinations for children aged 12+, a move backed by national pediatrics society”

Fewest seriously ill COVID patients since July 2020
Arutz Sheva
“Coronavirus infection rate sinks to lowest level since May 2020, with total number of COVID hospitalizations continuing to drop.”

Palestine records 1,923 Covid-19 cases, 22 deaths
“Palestine today recorded 1,923 new Covid-19 cases and 22 deaths, according to Health Minister Mai Al-Kaileh. She announced that 1,923 Palestinians tested positive for the highly contagious virus and 22 others died of it in the occupied territories. Among the new 1,923 cases, 498 cases were recorded in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and 1,425 others in the besieged Gaza Strip.”

Palestinian doctors escalate protests against PA
Middle East Monitor
“The Palestinian Doctors’ Syndicate agreed on Monday to escalate its protests in response to the Palestinian Authority distancing itself from agreements signed with the representative body, Al-Ayyam has reported. The PA, said the organisation, is ‘procrastinating’ over its pledges made to the doctors, and ‘disregarding’ their rights…The protest actions have been banned by the Palestinian Supreme Court. Nevertheless, local doctors in the occupied West Bank have continued to call for the government to increase the number of doctors in public hospitals and clinics to ease the burden imposed by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.”

Israel: Health Ministry registers only 199 virus cases in 24 hours (i24 News)

Israel honors Pfizer chief at Independence Day ceremony (Times of Israel)

New coronavirus cases still high in the Gaza Strip, lower in the West Bank (WAFA)

Palestine confirms 1774 new COVID-19 cases, 19 deaths
“Minister of Health Mai Alkaila announced today that 1774 new coronavirus infections, 19 deaths and 2276 recoveries were registered in Palestine during the past 24 hours. In her daily report on the coronavirus pandemic, she said seven corona-related deaths were registered in the West Bank, eleven deaths in the Gaza Strip, and one death in occupied Jerusalem.”

Israel prevents non-vaccinated Palestinians from entering Al-Aqsa Mosque
Middle East Monitor
“Israeli occupation authorities have prevented thousands of Palestinian worshippers from the occupied West Bank from entering Al-Aqsa Mosque on the first Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Arab48 reported. According to the news website, the Israeli authorities set a condition for the worshippers from the occupied territories to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to obtain access to the Muslim holy site. Meanwhile, the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip do not have sufficient quantities of vaccines, and therefore thousands were deprived of performing the first Friday prayer at Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

Gaza records highest daily virus death toll since start of pandemic
The New Arab
“The Gaza Strip recorded its highest-ever daily toll of coronavirus deaths, authorities said Sunday, as the Israeli-blockaded territory struggles with a dearth of vaccines. The Palestinian enclave, hemmed in by a large concrete barrier, the Egyptian border and the Mediterranean Sea, had been largely spared by the Covid-19 illness for much of last year. But in August, cases were recorded in its densely-populated refugee camps. They have sky-rocketed in recent weeks, forcing Islamist movement Hamas to impose a curfew and other health measures.”
See also:
Palestine confirms 988 new COVID-19 cases, 34 deaths (WAFA)

Israel rescinds outdoor coronavirus mask requirement
Arab News
“Israel rescinded the mandatory wearing of face masks outdoors and fully reopened schools on Sunday in the latest return to relative normality, boosted by a mass-vaccination campaign against the COVID-19 pandemic. With almost 54 percent of its 9.3 million population having received both shots of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, Israel has logged sharp drops in contagion and cases.”
See also:
Coronavirus: Number of serious patients drops below 200 (Jerusalem Post)

Palestinian Authority purchases 4.5 million Pfizer and Sputnik V vaccines
“The Palestinian Authority (PA) said on Tuesday it had purchased 4.5 million doses of the Pfizer and Sputnik V coronavirus vaccines, according to a report from Ynet. Ramallah officials said they spent more than $27.5 million on vaccines, which are expected to reach Palestinians “soon.””
Also see:
Health Minister says 4.5 million doses of coronavirus vaccines expected soon in Palestine (WAFA)
COVAX supplies 72,000 AstraZeneca vaccine doses to Palestinian (JPost)

Coronavirus claims the lives of 31 people as 2025 new cases were recorded in Palestine (WAFA)

Gazans with COVID-19 symptoms refuse testing (Al Monitor)

Israel shutters remaining COVID hospital wards as infection rate continues to drop
i24 News
“Designated hospital wards in Hadera, Tiberias and Safed were the last to close down this week. More encouraging signs that the coronavirus pandemic is significantly on the wane in Israel was revealed Tuesday as the last few remaining hospitals with designated COVID wards announced they would close them.”
See also:
With most adults now vaccinated, Israelis are busting loose (Washington Post)

Palestine records 1,748 Covid-19 cases, 18 deaths
“Palestine today recorded 1,748 new Covid-19 cases and 18 deaths, according to Health Minister Mai Al-Kaileh. She announced that 1,748 Palestinians tested positive for the highly contagious virus and 18 others died of it in the occupied territories. Among the new 1,748 cases, 480 cases were recorded in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and 1,268 others in the besieged Gaza Strip.”

Virus surge in crowded Gaza threatens to overwhelm hospitals
Washington Times
“More than a year into the coronavirus pandemic, some of the worst fears are coming true in the crowded Gaza Strip: A sudden surge in infections and deaths is threatening to overwhelm hospitals weakened by years of conflict and border closures. Gaza’s main treatment center for COVID-19 patients warns that oxygen supplies are dwindling fast. In another hospital, coronavirus patients are packed three to a room…Israel, whose own vaccination campaign has been a success, has been broadly criticized for refusing to accept responsibility for vaccinating the Palestinians. Rights groups say that under international law, Israel remains responsible for Palestinians in areas it occupied in the 1967 Mideast war, including Gaza, the West Bank and east Jerusalem. Israel says interim peace accords absolve it of that responsibility and that this is particularly true in Gaza, from which it withdrew in 2005, while keeping tight control over borders. So far, Gaza has received enough doses to fully vaccinate just over 55,000 people, with shipments arriving from the United Arab Emirates and the U.N.-backed COVAX program.”

The Fight Against Vaccine Apartheid Goes Global
The Nation – Yara Asi
“In recent months, the Covid-19 vaccination debate has offered another powerful opportunity for human rights advocates to point to the consequences of Israel’s actions—or in this case, lack of action. While Israel has vaccinated more than 60 percent of its population, giving it the highest Covid-19 vaccination rate in the world; and while it is slated to have millions of excess vaccines, it has refused to supply shots to most Palestinians in the occupied territories, with the exception of those with Israeli work permits. The Palestinian Authority, while working to coordinate vaccine donations and procure small shipments themselves, has not done an effective job in rallying global support for equity. As a result, just about 5 percent of the Palestinian population has been vaccinated, despite skyrocketing infection and mortality rates.”

Gaza’s COVID Crisis: Vaccine Shortage, Domestic Violence and Few Hospital Beds
“A doctor and humanitarian worker in the Gaza Strip tell of hospitals at breaking point, children collecting plastic from junkyards, and the feud between Hamas and Fatah hampering the distribution of COVID vaccines.”

As Palestinians Face the Pandemic Unprotected, Israel's Vaccination Rate Is Worthless
Haaretz Editorial
“Israel’s impressive and remarkable achievement of vaccinating most of its population against the coronavirus cannot be considered complete as long as millions of Palestinians living alongside Israel and under its control remain exposed to the pandemic, without the protection of a vaccine. This is not only a matter of Israel’s moral and legal obligation as an occupying power, which must not be minimized, but also of its own medical and epidemiological requirements.”


Israel may toss millions of vaccines. Why won’t it give them to the PA instead?
The Times of Israel
“Many Israelis don’t see sending COVID-19 doses to the PA or Gaza as an ethical act at all. “I think we have to admit that they are not nice neighbors,” said Efraim Inbar, president of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security. “We don’t have any moral responsibility to care for neighbors who pay money to terrorists, who turn to international organizations like the ICC in order to fight against us. We are in a war with them. I don’t remember the Americans sending vaccines to the Germans in World War II. I think the demand on Israel to aid its enemies is immoral.” “I prefer to send them to India, not to the PA,” he continued. “India doesn’t pay terrorists.”

Beset by virus, Gaza’s hospitals now struggle with wounded
Associated Press
“Just weeks ago, the Gaza Strip’s feeble health system was struggling with a runaway surge of coronavirus cases. Authorities cleared out hospital operating rooms, suspended nonessential care and redeployed doctors to patients having difficulty breathing. Then, the bombs began to fall. This week’s violence between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers has killed 119 Palestinians, including 31 children, and wounded 830 people in the impoverished territory. Israeli airstrikes have pounded apartments, blown up cars and toppled buildings. Doctors across the crowded coastal enclave are now reallocating intensive care unit beds and scrambling to keep up with a very different health crisis: treating blast and shrapnel wounds, bandaging cuts and performing amputations.”

Palestine confirms 247 new coronavirus cases, nine fatalities
“Palestine today recorded 247 new Covid-19 cases and nine deaths in the last 24 hours, according to Health Minister Mai Alkaila. Among the new 247 cases, 175 cases were recorded in the West Bank, and 72 others in the Gaza Strip. She added in her daily report on the disease that 1285 Covid-19 patients recovered; 575 recovery cases in the West Bank and 710 others in the Gaza Strip.”

The assault on Gaza halts Covid shots and could spread the virus, U.N. officials warn
New York Times
“The number of people in Gaza sickened from Covid-19 had been “just leveling off, and then this hit,” said the U.N. relief agency official, Matthias Schmale. “It is a grim situation.” He said that unvaccinated Gazans were crowding into the schools run by his agency, known as the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, because the Israelis did not intentionally target those buildings — in effect making them bomb shelters. Now, Mr. Schmale said, those schools “could turn into mass spreaders.””

An Israeli airstrike damaged Gaza’s only lab for processing coronavirus tests, officials said
New York Times
“Since Covid-19 first emerged in the blockaded Gaza Strip, a shortage of medical supplies has allowed authorities to administer only a relatively tiny number of coronavirus tests. Now, the sole laboratory in Gaza that processes test results has become temporarily inoperable after an Israeli airstrike nearby on Monday, officials in Gaza said. The strike, which targeted a separate building in Gaza City, sent shrapnel and debris flying across the street, damaging the lab and the administrative offices of the Hamas-run Health Ministry, said Dr. Majdi Dhair, director of the ministry’s preventive medicine department.” Also See – “Hundreds of thousands in Gaza face shortages of clean water and medicine.” (New York Times)

UNICEF delivers convoy of humanitarian aid for Gaza, including 10K COVID vaccines
The Times of Israel
“The United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund, UNICEF, says it organized a convoy of 12 containers of medical supplies that entered Gaza today. The shipment includes one container of first-aid kits, two containers of 2,000 triple blood bags, saline-glucose solution, one container of fire extinguishers, two containers of antibiotics and other infection-control medications, and 10,000 doses of Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine.”

After Israel's Mayhem: A Third Wave of Covid-19 May Hit Gaza
Health authorities in Gaza fear a third wave of COVID-19 disease after emergency measures collapsed during 11 days of fighting with Israel. People ‘completely forgot about the dangers of the COVID-19 pandemic’ while the fighting raged


Palestine confirms 297 new coronavirus cases, two deaths
“Among the new 297 cases, 37 cases were recorded in the West Bank and 260 others in the besieged Gaza Strip.”

Palestine records 311 new coronavirus cases, three deaths
“Among the new 311 cases, 38 cases were recorded in the West Bank, and 273 others in the Gaza Strip.”

Amnesty raises alarm as Israel shuts Palestinian health provider
Al Jazeera
“Israel’s move to shut down a key healthcare body in the occupied territories will have ‘catastrophic consequences’ for Palestinians in need of medical attention, global rights group Amnesty International warned. Israeli army forces raided the Palestinian Union of Health Workers Committee (UHWC) headquarters in Ramallah on Wednesday, breaking down the door, confiscating computers and memory drives, and issuing a military order forcing the office to close for six months…Saleh Higazi, Amnesty’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement.”
See also:
Israel forces raid, close healthcare centre in West Bank (Middle East Monitor)
Palestine records 246 new coronavirus cases, two deaths(WAFA)
$1M grant from China to secure coronavirus vaccines, says Minister of Finance (WAFA)

Gaza’s Summer: Destruction, Pandemic, and Climate Change
Al-Shabaka – Asmaa Abu Mezied
“Beyond financial hardships, Palestinians in Gaza face concerns over their health as temperatures rise. Among the most vulnerable are the elderly, who are highly susceptible to heat-related illnesses. In the months ahead, the elderly in Gaza will fight for survival from the dual threats of COVID-19 and the summer’s heat. Added to this is the increased fragility of the healthcare sector in Gaza which is already unable to withstand the rise in COVID-19 infection rates. Indeed, last month, Israel demolished Gaza’s only COVID-19 testing center.”

Palestinian Authority Nixes COVID Vaccine Deal With Israel Due to Close Expiration Date
“Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh ordered Friday to scrap a deal with Israel that would have given the Palestinian Authority about one million doses of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine because many of the inoculations are set to expire soon. The Palestinians said the doses, which Israel began shipping to the West Bank, are too close to expiring and do not meet their standards. In announcing the agreement, Israel had said the vaccines “will expire soon” without specifying the date.” 
See also:
Government orders cancelation of agreement with Israel concerning Pfizer doses” (WAFA)
Israel to deliver expiring Covid vaccines to Palestinians in exchange for new Ramallah-destined Pfizer doses (Al Araby)

Bennett Approves Transfer of Over 1 Million COVID Vaccines to Palestinians
“The inoculations were set to expire in any case, and the agreement stipulates that a later shipment from Pfizer to the Palestinian Authority will be redirected to Israel in exchange, the joint statement from Prime Minister’s Office, Health Ministry and Defense Ministry said. The statement refers to an agreement between the Palestinian Authority and Pfizer, which would see a large shipment arrive in the Palestinian territories in the first quarter of next year. The shipment from Israel will therefore serve as an advance on those vaccines, which will instead be sent to Israel.”

Israel struggles to restore vaccine swap deal after Palestinians reject doses for being too old
Washington Post
“Israeli officials are working to revive talks to deliver vaccine doses to the Palestinian Authority after a deal Friday was suddenly called off by authority officials, who said the doses were too close to their expiration date and did not meet their standards. Some 5 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are still without sufficient vaccine supplies as shipments from other sources continue to lag, while Israel is mostly returning to pre-pandemic life. The announcement and cancellation of the deal has given rise to conspiracy theories and further damaged the low standing of the Palestinian Authority among its people…After the deal was canceled Friday, rumors circulated on social media that Israel, in collusion with the authority, had been trying to ‘poison’ Palestinians with expired doses. Palestinian opposition activists are calling for an independent investigation into the deal and its co-signers.”
See also:
Palestinians to renegotiate COVID-19 vaccine deal with Israel (Jerusalem Post)
PA says it wants to renegotiate terms of vaccine deal with Israel, Pfizer (Times of Israel)
‘Dumping ground’: Israel blasted for bid to swap expiring Covid-19 vaccines with PA (Middle East Eye)
Palestinian Authority to create independent committee on botched Israel vaccine deal (The New Arab)

Palestine seeks to renew 1m covid vaccine exchange deal with Israel
MIddle East Monitor
“The Palestinian Authority (PA) plans to renew a deal to receive 1.4 million Pfizer vaccines from Israel, after rejecting the original supply due to the vaccines being too close to their expiration date. According to Wafa news agency, PA Health Minister Mai Alkaila confirmed yesterday that her office would renegotiate with Pfizer and the Israeli Ministry of Health on how to complete the implementation of the agreement in a way that would ensure the safety of the doses. ‘We will resume discussions with Pfizer to obtain the vaccines that expire at the end of the month of July as soon as possible, so that we have sufficient time to vaccinate all groups established according to the national vaccination plan,’ through which the PA hopes to achieve a 70 per cent rate of immunity, Alkaila said. The initial delivery of Pfizer-BioNtech doses failed to conform “to the specifications contained in the agreement, and accordingly, Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh instructed the minister of health to cancel the agreement,” PA spokesman, Ibrahim Melhem, said. ‘The government refuses to receive vaccines that are about to expire,’ he added.”

Israel, a world leader in fighting the virus, grapples with a new outbreak
New York Times
“Israel has been a trailblazer in the post-pandemic world, largely returning to normal in May following one of the world’s fastest vaccination drives. But dozens of new cases recently emerged at schools in two cities, Modiin and Binyamina, leading to hundreds of people being quarantined. Israel has made 12- to 15-year-olds eligible for vaccination, but many have yet to get shots…The containment effort has struggled to have an impact as the virus continues to spread through several cities. Many of those who contracted the virus had been vaccinated, according to the director general of the Health Ministry, Prof. Chezy Levy, though he did not specify if they had had one or two doses.

Israel restores indoor mask requirement after rise in Covid cases
The Guardian
“Israel has decided to reimpose the mandatory wearing of masks in enclosed public spaces owing to a rise in Covid-19 cases just 10 days after the measure was lifted – a blow for a country that has prided itself on one of the world’s most successful vaccine rollouts.”

Palestine records 156 new coronavirus cases, one death
“Palestine today recorded 156 new Covid-19 cases and one death, according to Health Minister Mai Al-Kaileh. She announced that 156 Palestinians tested positive for the highly contagious virus and another died of it in the occupied territories. Among the new 156 cases, 12 cases were recorded in the West Bank and 144 others in the besieged Gaza Strip.”


In a year of pandemic, Palestinian workers grapple with a virus and an occupier
“Palestinians who work inside the Green Line or in West Bank settlements face a litany of day-to-day difficulties. If they find a job, they have to apply for a travel permit with Israel’s military authorities. Many leave their homes before 4 a.m. to line up at long and crowded checkpoints, where they are often subjected to humiliating inspections. Those who are not able to secure a permit risk crossing the West Bank separation barrier undocumented. The workers go through this ordeal knowing they can be fired and replaced at any moment. With the spread of COVID-19 since March of last year, however, those challenges have compounded. Many Palestinian workers were laid off or sent home on unpaid leave. When the Israeli government decided to shut down several of the major checkpoints to curb the spread of the coronavirus, tens of thousands of Palestinian workers were made to stay in accommodations provided by their Israeli employers for weeks, without the ability to return home….+972 Magazine spoke to five Palestinians, documented and undocumented, who work on both sides of the Green Line to understand how their lives have changed due to the COVID-19 crisis.”

WHO fears a fourth COVID-19 wave ‘around the corner’ in the West Bank and Gaza
As “more and more cases of the infectious Delta variant” are confirmed, the World Health Organization said Thursday it “fears that the fourth wave of COVID-19 is around the corner” for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, reversing the first major decrease in new cases that had occurred over the spring.
....The big picture: The problem is, one positive case with the Delta mutation spreads to around 8 people, more than twice that of earlier iterations of the virus. Already it has reached more than 100 countries. We found Al Jazeera’s interactive map useful for visualizing the reach.
What’s more, while most vaccines on the market provide some protection against Delta, it does not provide as robust of coverage as it does for the the earlier strain, dubbed Alpha. The WHO found, “Two weeks after receiving a second dose, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine appeared to provide 79% protection against infection with the Delta variant, compared with 92% protection against the Alpha variant.” This means previous models of how quickly vaccination campaigns can curb the spread are off. And, this variant is associated with different symptoms, sicker patients, and a doubled risk of hospitalization.

"No shelter in place: State demolitions in the Naqab Bedouin communities and its impact on children, during the Covid-19 pandemic
Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality
“In the middle of a global pandemic, the demolition of structures continued to be one of the central tools used by the State of Israel against the Bedouin community in the Naqab, to dispossess them of their land and concentrate them in urban townships. The Bedouin community,which has suffered for years from the lack of adequate housing, has been engaged in a lengthy struggle against the State over ownership of land in the Naqab. The lack of adequate housing and the insecurity and distress that comes with it, impact severely on Bedouin children in an acute and irreversible manner, damaging their mental health, security and development.”

Israel’s Violations of Palestinian Workers’ Rights: COVID-19 and Systemic Abuse
Al Shabaka
“The Israeli regime has been systematically violating the rights of Palestinian workers in Israel and its illegal settlements since 1967. How have these violations been exacerbated since the COVID-19 pandemic? Al-Shabaka’s guest contributor, Ihab Maharmeh, examines Israel’s ongoing abuses of Palestinian workers’ labor and human rights. He offers recommendations for securing these rights and for holding Israel accountable.”


Israel increasing abuse of detained Palestinians, rights group says
Middle East Monitor
“Israel has escalated its abusive practices against Palestinian prisoners, including the use of medical negligence, amid fears of the spread of coronavirus, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club warned yesterday. ‘A state of extreme tension prevails in Section 3 of Ashkelon Prison, which is designated for security prisoners, due to the escalation of [Israeli] abuse and the tragic conditions the prisoners face around the clock,’ the body said in a statement, pointing out that the rising number of sick prisoners, and the prison administration’s continued policy of medical negligence ‘exacerbates the state of tension’.”

A Third of Israeli Arabs Have Yet to Be Vaccinated Against COVID
Additionally, only 16 percent of children age 12-15 in the Arab community have been vaccinated compared to 34.6 percent in the general population
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s call on the members of the Arab community to be vaccinated against COVID brought back an issue that had come up when the first vaccination campaign got underway late last year.

Then, as now, the vaccination rate in the Arab community was lower than in the population in general. On the one hand, the government and the Health Ministry have been criticized by Arab doctors and public health experts for not doing enough to change the trend. On the other, a good many members of the Arab community are refusing to be vaccinated, among other reasons for lack of faith in the system.

Israeli councils 'illegally' bar Palestinians from accessing beaches, citing Covid-19 rules
Middle East Eye
“The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel (Adalah) said on Sunday that the municipal authorities of Netanya, Akka, and Hadera have enforced new restrictions on non-residents under the pretext of Covid-19 safety measures. The rights group sent a letter to Israel‘s attorney general arguing that the measures are illegal…Adalah said the decision contravened the government’s Covid-19 regulations, which do not restrict movement in public, open spaces. The Corona Cabinet in Israel is the only authority with the mandate to enforce any measures related to the pandemic, the rights group said, arguing that the city council has therefore violated the law.

Gaza's school year to start next week, Education Ministry says
Jerusalem Post
“The Education Ministry of Gaza will start the new school year next week, Palestinian media reported on Tuesday. The new school year will start on August 16, with the education ministry maintaining all coronavirus protocols to protect Palestinian students.”

Adalah to UN experts: Israel’s COVID-19 response denies basic human rights to Palestinians in Israel and OPT
Israel left Palestinian communities exposed to pandemic through substandard protection and limited access to testing, emergency medical services, and social welfare benefits – particularly in unrecognized Bedouin villages.
Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel submitted a 30-page report to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for Special Rapporteurs and Independent Experts on 16 July 2020 detailing Israel’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its negative impact on human rights.

Birthright Cancels Remaining Summer Trips to Israel Over New COVID Quarantine Rule
“Taglit-Birthright will be canceling all its remaining trips to Israel this summer as of Wednesday, now that all passengers arriving in the country from the United States will be required to quarantine. A spokesperson for Birthright, which provides free, 10-day trips to Israel, said that 42 trips had been canceled because of the new seven-day quarantine rule. Americans have accounted for a large share of Birthright participants since the organization resumed activities in May following a 14-month hiatus.”

Senior Fatah official contracts COVID-19
Arutz Sheva
“Fatah director Jibril Rajoub, 68, announced today (Friday) by Facebookthat he has contracted COVID-19.” 
See also:
Palestine logs over 1800 COVID cases, six deaths (WAFA)

No, COVID-19 cases aren’t going up in vaccinated Israel and down in unvaccinated Palestine
In the past few weeks you may have seen Israel and Palestine in the headlines for an unexpected cause: anti-vaccination and anti-masking advocates have circulated misleading or outright false claims about inoculation and infection rates. The claims made it to the wide corners of the internet, including an account belonging to a notable retired physician, former Republican Representative from Texas, Ron Paul.


Palestine confirms 2,675 new coronavirus cases, eight deaths
“Palestine today confirmed 2,675 new Covid-19 cases and eight death cases, according to Health Minister Mai al-Kaileh. She announced that 2,675 Palestinians tested positive for the highly contagious virus and eight others died of it in the occupied territories. As part of the 2,675 new cases, 1,262 cases were registered in the West Bank and 1,413 others in the Gaza Strip.”
Vaccination rates among Palestinians dwindling amid sceptism and low supplies
(The New Arab)

Gaza health ministry receives 50,000 expired vaccine doses
Middle East Monitor
“The Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza said on Monday that it has received 50,000 expired Covid-19 vaccine doses sent by the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. It blamed Israel for the fact that the vaccine’s effectiveness had expired.”

Gaza opens hospital ward to tackle covid spread
“The ministry renewed its call on citizens to quickly go to vaccination centres to receive the inoculation, stressing that the vaccines are available in sufficient quantities, are safe and provide the highest degree of protection”


Omicron Variant: Israel Is Preparing for Three Possible Scenarios


Just two weeks have elapsed since Prime Minister Naftali Bennett presided over a “war game” with a cast of participants who simulated the outbreak of a particularly virulent omega variant of the coronavirus. The conclusions generated from the simulation were consulted over the weekend – to apply them to the emergence of the enigmatic omicron variant of the virus.
    The decisions adopted Saturday by the coronavirus cabinet bear a resemblance to the simulation: a call to immediately take steps to eradicate the outbreak, including the use of “means to provide oversight and monitoring”; rapidly curtailing air traffic; and dramatic action for “early detection” of the risks that the variant presents.


Israel lifts COVID-19 travel ban on most states, US and Canada remain
Jerusalem Post
The Health Ministry removed dozens of states from the COVID-19 no-fly list, including the majority of African nations and Italy, Ireland and more.