Now Palestinians Ask Israel for Help

A senior official from the Palestinian Authority (PA) says they are now examining the possibility of obtaining COVID-19 vaccines from Israel.

The PA Ministry of Health had said that they were sourcing vaccines themselves, but the first doses were not expected to arrive in the West Bank until the beginning of February.

So, in the last few days they have approached the Israeli government to see if it will send them some of the vaccines it has received.

On Tuesday, the ministry announced that 20 Palestinians had died from coronavirus infections, six of those deaths occurring in the Gaza Strip. They have diagnosed 1,191 new cases of COVID-19 in the West Bank and Gaza Strip over the last 24 hours.

This new request finds Israel in an intriguing situation with Arab Israelis apparently more reluctant to be vaccinated than their Jewish neighbours.

That has prompted thousands of Israelis to travel to Arab towns to be immunized from the coronavirus faster than they might in their hometowns – a new type of medical tourism. Apparently, locals have welcomed the visitors, saying they are helping improve the response to the vaccination programme among Arab Israelis.

Naama Gatt, one of the Jewish visitors said:

“I like the fact we’re vaccinating together here, Jews and Arabs,
and ending the pandemic together. This makes me happy.”

Just as in the UK, Israel is tightening its lockdown because staff in hospitals have warned today that they are close to their capacity limit. Dr Uri Galante of Soroka Hospital in Beersheba said:

“We have broken the record of hospitalisations and number of patients on respirators compared to
the second lockdown. We see patients arriving in advanced serious condition.”

Dr Na’il Basharat of the Emek Medical Center in Afula commented:

“I feel like I live in two parallel worlds. One is my coronavirus ward with all its difficulties
and the second is the external world where people behave as if there is no pandemic.”

Prof Alon Grossman of the Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikvah, described the data as frightening:

“The number of patients increases every day and there are more patients in serious condition.
We expected a third wave, but did not think how big it would be.”