JERUSALEM — The Israeli government approved a measure on Sunday to vaccinate tens of thousands of Palestinian laborers, after facing fierce criticism over the small number of inoculations it had provided to Palestinians living under its military occupation.
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.
A heated debate has raged for weeks over whether Israel bears responsibility for the health of Palestinian in the occupied West Bank and the blockaded Gaza Strip. Human rights groups have argued that international law requires Israel to provide Palestinians with the same access to vaccines as its own citizens receive. But supporters of Israel’s policies have contended that the Palestinians assumed responsibility for health services when they signed the Oslo Accords in the 1990s.
As of Sunday, the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank has received about 2,000 doses from Israel and 10,000 from Russia, according to Palestinian officials. Israel has put the number of doses it sent at 2,200, and promised to hand over another 3,000.
The Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip has obtained 20,000 doses from the United Arab Emirates and 2,000 from the Russian shipment to the Palestinian Authority.