Israel Blocks Shipment of Sputnik V Vaccine to Gaza

The Palestinian Authority has accused Israel of preventing the transportation of 1,000 doses of Russian’s Sputnik V vaccine intended for medical workers to blockaded Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian group Hamas which governs the Gaza Strip on Tuesday condemned Israel’s recent refusal to allow the passage of vaccine doses for Gaza health workers through its blockade of the territory, terming the act a “violation” of international law.

Israel’s move marked “a real crime and a violation of all international laws and humanitarian standards,” Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said.

Palestinian Health Minister Mai Alkaila said in a statement on Monday that Israel bore “full responsibility” for blocking the shipment acquired by the Palestinian Authority (PA), which governs parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Gaza is home to more than two million Palestinians at an enclave that borders Egypt and Israel.

Gazans have yet to receive any vaccines despite authorities reporting more than 53,000 infections and at least 537 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

The PA recently acquired about 2,000 doses of the Sputnik V vaccine which has allegedly not been allowed entry to Gaza by Israel.

Israel’s Responds

COGAT, the Israeli military body that runs civilian affairs in the occupied Palestinian territories, said the PA had requested to transfer 1,000 vaccine doses to Gaza but that the request was “waiting for a political decision”.

Gaza has been under siege by both Israel and Egypt for more than a decade, during which time Israel launched three military assaults on the Strip, devastating much of the coastal enclave’s infrastructure, including its healthcare facilities.

An Israeli official said allowing the vaccine shipment through was still being debated late Monday.

“It wasn’t blocked. They are still contemplating it,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Meanwhile, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) supposedly in charge of approving Russia’s Sputnik V, is yet to grant its approval for the use of the vaccine even though countries like Israel have started administering doses of the same vaccine.

Israel – which is carrying out one of the world’s fastest vaccination campaigns per capita – has faced international calls to share its stocks as an occupying power with Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza.

However, The National Security Council official, Roi Binyamini, told the panel of Israel’s foreign affairs and defence committee that the government had no intention of sharing Israel’s own supply of vaccines with Gaza. But he said the government was weighing requests from other parties to allow the PA to deliver its own vaccines to the territory. He said he expected a decision to be made quickly.

Patsy Nwogu

Reporting on data-driven featured stories and investigations.

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