Palestinians highlight Emirati initiative to provide COVID-19 vaccine to Gaza Strip

Gulf state remains committed to global fight against the coronavirus
Former Palestinian Health Minister Jawad Tibi receives a dose of the Russian vaccine against the Sputnik V coronavirus in Gaza City on 22 February 2021.

AFP/MAHMUD HAMS  -   Former Palestinian Health Minister Jawad Tibi receives a dose of the Russian vaccine against the Sputnik V coronavirus in Gaza City on 22 February 2021.

Palestine is grateful to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the effort to help in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, in this case by contributing to the provision of the vaccine against the coronavirus in the Gaza Strip. Many Palestinians have praised the Emirati decision to provide the vaccine against the pathogen in Gaza, in the face of a long-standing blockade that hinders deliveries to Palestinian areas. The first shipment of the Russian Sputnik vaccine thus arrives in the Palestinian territory. 

In a statement to the Emirates News Agency (WAM), Palestinian human rights activist Khalil Abu Shamala said that Gaza Strip is witnessing a deterioration in the health sector, and over the past months, “the sector has faced great difficulties in facing the spread of the coronavirus.”

He stressed that the vaccine delivered from the UAE at this critical time strengthens the work of medical teams and the Ministry of Health and enabled them to deal with emergency cases. “As far as we know, this is the first batch of vaccines, and the UAE will send other batches to Gaza Strip,” he added.

Un camión cargado con dosis de Sputnik V de fabricación rusa procedentes de EAU llega a la Franja de Gaza a través del cruce de Rafah con Egipto, el 21 de febrero de 2021
AFP/SAID KHATIB - A truck loaded with Russian-made Sputnik V doses from the UAE arrives in the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing with Egypt, 21 February 2021.

Abu Shamala praised the UAE’s initiative and efforts to support the Palestinian health sector, specifically in light of the siege and severe deprivation in the Strip. Although Israel has recently eased its blockade on the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine, Israel allowed the shipment in mid-February. 

In mid-February, Israel allowed the shipment of the first 1,000 doses of vaccine against the coronavirus that the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) sent to the Gaza Strip from the West Bank. This confirmed the transfer of the vaccines between two territorially separate Palestinian areas whose borders are controlled by the Israeli state.  

The West Bank-based Palestinian National Authority initially intended to deliver 2,000 of the 10,000 doses of Sputnik, donated by Russia, but Israel delayed the permits until mid-February, while Israeli MPs demanded that the delivery be conditional on the return of two civilians and the bodies of two soldiers held in the Strip. Local organisations condemned Israel's making the "blockade of humanitarian access" conditional on "political" decisions and described the delay as "collective punishment".  

Trabajadores sanitarios palestinos junto a un cargamento de la vacuna rusa Sputnik V enviado por Emiratos Árabes Unidos, en medio del brote de la COVID-19, en el cruce de Rafah, en el sur de la Franja de Gaza, el 21 de febrero de 2021
PHOTO/REUTERS - Palestinian health workers stand next to a shipment of Russian Sputnik V vaccine sent by the United Arab Emirates, amid the outbreak of COVID-19, at the Rafah crossing in the southern Gaza Strip February 21, 2021.

For his part, Salah Abdel Aty, Head of the International Commission to Support Palestinian Rights, expressed his thanks to the UAE for the medical supplies it has provided at this crucial time. Speaking to WAM, he called on the international community to provide all necessary assistance to the residents of Gaza Strip to confront the coronavirus pandemic and “reinforce the dilapidated health sector,” and to follow the UAE’s model in supporting the health sector and protect the Palestinian people from this pandemic.

Political analyst Nidal Khadra said that providing vaccinations is an important initiative that was preceded by various medical aid from the UAE. He explained that the UAE has always been and still proactive in supporting the Palestinian people.

Meanwhile, Dr. Nabil Al Katri, leader in the Democratic Reform Party in Fatah movement, said that the delivery of vaccines to Gaza comes as part of the national responsibility to rescue the besieged people in the Strip. He also stated that the vaccines’ delivery is part of a series of achievements made by the reform party in the Fatah movement represented in the aid delivered from the UAE to enhance the health sector in Gaza.

Trabajadores descargan de un camión cajas de dosis de vacunas Sputnik V de fabricación rusa procedentes de EAU, a su llegada a la Franja de Gaza a través del paso fronterizo de Rafah con Egipto, el 21 de febrero de 2021. Alrededor de 20.000 dosis de vacunas contra los coronavirus procedentes de los Emiratos Árabes Unidos han llegado a Gaza
AFP/SAID KHATIB - Workers unload boxes of Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine doses from the UAE from a truck as they arrive in the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt on February 21, 2021. Around 20,000 doses of coronavirus vaccine from the United Arab Emirates have arrived in Gaza.

This continues the great work of the UAE in the global fight against the coronavirus, as evidenced by the tons of aid and medical supplies sent to dozens of countries in recent months to address the pandemic and the provision of the logistics network called The Hope Consortium, set up to store and distribute vaccines against COVID-19 to different parts of the globe; an initiative that helps decisively in the distribution of the remedy against the pathogen that has already caused more than 2.5 million deaths and more than 114 infections around the world.