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Israel Started Vaccinating Palestinians Who Work Inside the Country

Αssociated Press

FILE- In this Friday, Feb. 17, 2012 file photo, the West Bank Jewish settlement of Modiin Illit rises in the background while a protestor waves a Palestinian flag in front of Israeli troops during a protest against Israel s separation barrier in the West Bank village of Bilin. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed, File)

JERUSALEM — After delays, Israel started vaccinating Palestinians who work inside the country and its West Bank settlements on Monday, more than two months after launching an immunization blitz of its own population.

Palestinian laborers who crossed into Israel at several West Bank checkpoints received their first doses of the Moderna vaccine from Magen David Adom paramedics. The vaccination drive orchestrated by COGAT, Israel’s military agency coordinating government operations in the West Bank, had been beset by postponements.

Some 100,000 Palestinian laborers from the West Bank work in Israel and its settlements, which are widely seen internationally as illegal and an obstacle to peace.

Israel has administered over 8.7 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine to its population of 9.3 million. Over 3.7 million Israelis — more than 40% — have received two doses of the vaccine. But until Monday, Israel had provided few vaccines for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, a move that has underscored global disparities and drawn international criticism.

Human rights groups and many Palestinians say that as an occupying power, Israel is responsible for providing vaccines to the Palestinians. Israel says that under interim peace accords reached in the 1990s, it does not have any such obligation.