Israel extends vaccination drive to Palestinian workers

Monday, March 8

Israel has officially launched a campaign to inoculate Palestinians who work in Israel against the coronavirus.

Around 120,000 Palestinians work in Israel according to Defense Ministry statistics. 

Eight immunization stations were opened on crossings in the West Bank on Sunday, with an additional due to open this week.

Over 5,000 workers were vaccinated by the end of the first day.

However, some Palestinian workers and Arab Israelis were deterred by rumours and conspiracy theories circulating obout the vaccine.

“I wasn’t afraid per se, but I know people who are. There’s talk on Facebook and social media that the vaccine could have bad effects on us in the long run,” said Murad Fares, a Palestinian construction worker from outside Bethlehem.

Atwan’s cousin, a hospital director, died of coronavirus a few months ago, Atwan said. His brother, also a doctor, had urged him to get the vaccine, but he agreed that conspiratorial thinking was as present in Palestinian society as anywhere else.

Israeli authorities have also made efforts to sanitize checkpoints and enforce public health measures where Palestinian workers enter Israeli areas. 

But in practice, little social distancing takes place, and some workers believe checkpoints were key infection sites.

The move to vaccinate Palestinian workers comes as the West Bank is seeing a rapid rise in coronavirus infections. 

There are currently 17,989 active coronavirus cases in the West Bank, one of the highest levels since the beginning of the pandemic.

Source: Newsday and Agencies