Israel has promised to supply “three to four million vaccines” to Palestinians In the West Bank and Gaza. For obvious reasons – the story being too favorable to the Jewish state – outside of Israel, the media have largely failed to report this news, which you can find here:
Israel will transfer three-to-four million coronavirus vaccines for Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, a senior official in Ramallah told Israel Hayom Saturday. According to an official with Ramallah’s Health Ministry, the move is part of a deal Israel has reached with pharmaceutical companies producing the vaccine.
Israel has already reached agreements with the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies in the development of a coronavirus vaccine, including Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca.
The official noted that the distribution plan was a “strategic goal” that was the result of a collaboration between Israeli and Palestinian healthcare professionals. However, the Palestinians claim that they will be short several million doses needed to vaccinate the entire population even after receiving the vaccines from Israel and the millions of vaccines the United Nations promised them.
The Palestinians will not be “short several million doses needed to vaccinate” its entire population of 5 million (3 million in the West Bank, 2 million in Gaza). See the calculations below.
Let’s try to make sense of this. Each vaccine, whether produced by Moderna, Pfizer, or Astro-Zeneca, requires two doses. Israel, wanting to cover its bets, has managed to make agreements with all three companies. It was among the first to sign with Moderna, which means it will be one of the first countries to receive that vaccine; it has also signed, many months later, with Pfizer and, just now, with Astro-Zeneca.
Israel has been allowed to buy:
1) between 1-2 million doses of Moderna’s vaccine. That means between 500,000 and 1 million vaccines.
2) 8 million doses, or 4 million vaccines, from Pfizer.
3) 10 million doses, or 5 million vaccines, from Astro-Zeneca.
That means Israel will receive between 9.5 and 10 million vaccines by mid-February 2021.
The population of Israel is about 9 million.
Thus Israel should have enough vaccines to cover its entire population of Jews and Arabs, barring commitments to transfer vaccines from its own store to the Palestinians .
However, Israel has also said that it will supply to the Palestinian Authority four million vaccines (or eight million doses) – not, as the official in Ramallah said, “three to four million vaccines.”
This raises a series of questions.
Are these four million vaccines (eight million doses) that Israel has agreed to “transfer” to the PA, for Palestinians in both Gaza and the West Bank, to be taken out of Israel’s own supply, from three separate companies, of 9.5 million vaccines? The word “transfer” implies that it is. Or has Israel managed to reach agreements to buy another four million vaccines from the three companies for the Palestinians? This is unclear. Whatever the case, that means out of a total Palestinian population of roughly 5 million (3 million in the West Bank, 2 million in Gaza), 80% will be covered by vaccines that Israel has obligated itself to provide. The Palestinians have said they have also received commitments from the United Nations for “millions” of additional vaccines. The plural “millions” means that at least two million vaccines will be provided to the Palestinians by the U.N. But perhaps what was meant were not “vaccines,” but “doses of vaccines.” In that case, the UN would have committed itself to supplying, at the very least, two million doses or one million vaccines.
Whichever interpretation you favor, the result is the same: all five million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza will be vaccinated: four million vaccines are to be “transferred” from Israel and at least one million more vaccines will be provided by the U.N. So why is the PA complaining? It will be provided with maximum protection; every single one of its citizens can be vaccinated, thanks to Israel’s foresight and generosity. Israel may have made separate deals, on behalf of the Palestinians, with all three vaccine companies, aside from those it made for its own purchases of vaccines. But if the four million vaccines to be transferred from Israel are instead to be taken from that country’s own supply, that would mean four million Israelis, out of a total population of 8.7 million, would no longer be getting the coronavirus vaccine until well into 2021.
It may be that Israel is willing to forego administering the vaccines to its healthiest, lowest-risk population (people from 18 to 50, with no underlying illnesses), until late February 2021. By that point there will be a plentiful supply – several hundred million vaccines – being distributed. Pfizer alone says it will have more than three hundred million doses of its vaccine ready by Spring 2021. That may be Israel’s plan, to hold back on vaccinating the healthiest of its citizens, in order to supply the PA with enough vaccines, to be given at first to those who are most at risk in the Palestinian population. Then as more supplies of all three vaccines become available, Israel can buy the doses both that it needs to complete the vaccination of its entire population, and those needed for the Palestinians to do the same.
Whether the four million vaccines Israel intends to transfer to the PA will be taken out of Israel’s own supply, or whether these four million vaccines are being bought by Israel in addition to what it has bought for itself, for transfer to the Palestinians, it’s an extremely generous offer. Many other Arab states, including the rich Arab states of the Gulf, could have offered to buy the vaccines for the Palestinians — the treasuries of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, and Qatar would scarcely have noticed the expenditure — but none of them did. For that matter, not one of the European countries that are always so offended at Israel’s supposed “oppression of the Palestinians” has offered to do what Israel has just done: commit itself to supplying four million Covid-19 vaccines to the Palestinians.
I am sure that this Israeli offer will somehow be turned against the Jewish state. Perhaps the vaccine doesn’t arrive as quickly in the West Bank, or in Gaza, as the Palestinians think it should; perhaps it starts to be distributed a little later – because of logistics failures among the Palestinians — than in Israel. Perhaps, it will be suggested, the reason Israel is supplying the Palestinians with four million vaccines is because it wants to make the world forget about its “human rights abuses.” Perhaps, it will be claimed, the Israelis deliberately gave the Palestinians the least efficacious of the three vaccines. In the guise of helping the Palestinians, those sinister Israelis were making sure they were given the worst of the vaccines, in order not to stop but to spread the virus.. All of these, and other equally absurd charges, are sure to be made.
The vaccines transferred from Israel will be given to five million Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. There will be no expressions of Palestinian gratitude to Israel for supplying millions of doses of the vaccine. But why should we be surprised? After his daughter was cared for by Israeli doctors at Ichilov Hospital in 2014, Hamas head Ismail Haniyeh offered no words of thanks to those doctors. When Saeb Erekat died of Covid-19 in November 2020, after weeks of intensive treatment at Hadassah Hospital, his family thanked many people for their thoughts and prayers: “On behalf of the family, we would like to thank you all for the heartfelt thoughts and sincere prayers.” There was not a word about the Israeli medical staff that had looked after him.
No good deed goes unpunished. Often have you heard that told. The Israelis, who insist on doing good deeds even for those who wish them ill — who even want them dead — are about to find that out yet again.
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