Gaza’s first Covid-19 vaccine shipment on its way, officials say

Enclave with population of two million to get enough doses for 1,000 people

A Palestinian girl walks past a coronavirus-themed mural in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. Photograph: Said Khatib/AFP via Getty Images

A Palestinian girl walks past a coronavirus-themed mural in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. Photograph: Said Khatib/AFP via Getty Images

 

Gaza will receive its first shipment of Covid-19 vaccines on Wednesday after Israel approved the transfer via its territory, Israeli and Palestinian officials said.

Gaza, which has a population of two million, has reported more than 53,000 cases of the coronavirus and 538 deaths.

Palestinian officials said the shipment would include enough doses to inoculate 1,000 people.

While Israel exited Gaza in 2005, it still controls access to the enclave, together with Egypt.

Shipment, via Israel, of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine by the Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank to Hamas-run Gaza had drawn criticism from right-wing Israeli politicians.

The family of Hadar Goldin, one of two Israeli soldiers whose bodies have been held in

Gaza since Israel’s 2014 war there, had petitioned the High Court of Justice to condition the entry of vaccine on the release of the remains and live Israeli hostages.

Palestinian officials, blaming Israel, said a transfer planned for Monday had been cancelled.

COGAT, an Israeli liaison office with the Palestinians, and Palestinian health ministry officials said on Wednesday the vaccine was on its way to the Gaza border and would enter the territory later in the day.