Israel begins immunizing residents of East Jerusalem beyond security fence

Israel on Tuesday began vaccinating Palestinians in East Jerusalem who have Israeli residency cards but live beyond the security fence that crosses the eastern half of the city.

The vaccinations were carried out by paramedics from Magen David Adom at the key Qalandiya crossing point.

Tens of thousands of people live beyond the barrier that winds through the capital, which some health experts say could make access to the vaccine more difficult.

MDA apparently chose to locate the vaccination post near the passage in order to increase accessibility to the vaccine for those who live beyond the barrier.

A woman takes a selfie after receiving the coronavirus vaccine from an Israeli medical team at the Qalandia checkpoint on February 23, 2021 (AP Photo / Oded Balilty)

The vaccination campaign was coordinated with the Ministry of Health and the IDF Central Command. It will operate on Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

East Jerusalem is claimed by Israel and was annexed following the Six Day War of 1967, and again declared Israeli in the Basic Law of 1980: Jerusalem, capital of Israel. Israeli statements are not recognized by the international community. Israel sees the entire city as its capital, while Palestinians see the eastern sector as the capital of their future state.

Israel has also started vaccinating the 122,000 West Bank Palestinians who work in Israel. Some Palestinians who work in the health sector have already been vaccinated, but they are only a small minority; the overwhelming majority of workers are employed in construction or agriculture.

Health experts have singled them out as a potential source of infection, as many cross the Green Line on a daily basis.

Israeli medical teams administer coronavirus vaccine to Palestinians at Qalandia checkpoint on February 23, 2021 (AP Photo / Oded Balilty) (AP Photo / Oded Balilty)

Israel has offered vaccines to all of its citizens, Jews and Arabs, in addition to Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem. A fierce debate has raged for several weeks over whether Israel is ultimately responsible for providing vaccines to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

In recent days, Israel has transferred several thousand doses to Ramallah so that the Palestinian Authority can immunize medical personnel. But critics blamed the Jewish state for failing to vaccinate the estimated five million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

Russian COVID vaccines delivered by the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah to the Gaza Strip on February 17, 2021 (Courtesy)

Critics of Israel’s vaccination policy refer to the Fourth Geneva Convention, which states that an occupying power is required to provide vaccines to inhabitants of territories under its control.

Israel rejects the claim that it occupies the West Bank, claiming that the territories it has ruled since 1967 are “contested” rather than occupied. He also notes that he has withdrawn from Gaza, although he maintains a blockade on the territory, which he says is necessary for security; the Hamas terrorist group, which rules Gaza, has pledged to destroy the Jewish state. As such, Jerusalem has never accepted the applicability of this statute of international law to the territories.

The government refers to the Oslo Accords of 1995, which states that the Palestinian Authority is responsible for Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza, while the two sides must work together to fight epidemics.

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Albert C. Prince

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