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Covid-19: Israel donates vaccines to countries that moved embassies to Jerusalem

Czech Republic, Honduras, Guatemala, and Palestinian Authority will receive symbolic amount of vaccines, local media report
Israel is facing mounting criticism for not inoculating Palestinians in occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip (AFP)

The Czech Republic, Guatemala and Honduras, which have all moved their embassies or diplomatic offices to Jerusalem, will receive coronavirus vaccines from Israel, local media reported. 

Israel's public broadcaster Kann reported on Tuesday that vaccines from Israel's stock would be given to the three countries along with the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office told Kann that after several countries asked for assistance, Israel agreed to donate "a limited amount of vaccines that were not being used".

"Therefore it was decided to help with a symbolic amount of vaccines for medical staff of the Palestinian Authority and for some countries that asked Israel," the office said.

According to Gili Cohen, a diplomatic correspondent at Kann, a plane arrived in Israel from Honduras early on Tuesday to receive the vaccines. 

The Czech Republic confirmed it had received a small Israeli shipment, Reuters reported.

Israel has the world's highest number of vaccines administered per capita, with nearly half of its population immunised. But its rollout has been criticised by its government's refusal to inoculate the Palestinians.

Doctors Without Borders, also known as MSF, criticised Israel on Tuesday for failing to give vaccines to the Palestinians. 

"Israel is an occupying power and has millions of vaccines. Palestine is the occupied territory and has barely a few thousand," said Matthias Kennes, MSF's medical adviser to Palestine.

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Kennes, who works as a nurse for MSF in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, noted the lack of vaccines in the OPTs and how "you are over 60 times more likely to have a vaccination in Israel than in Palestine".

He also highlighted how the recent delivery of vaccines to Gaza would not be enough to protect health care workers and people most vulnerable to Covid-19. 

Last week, the PA criticised Israel for blocking a vaccine delivery to Gaza from the occupied West Bank. Following the backlash, Israel eventually approved the delivery.

The World Bank has warned that the Palestinians' Covid-19 vaccination plan faces a $30m funding shortfall, and has called on Israel to cooperate with the PA and for wealthier countries to donate to ease the pandemic.

Earlier this week, Israel's army radio reported that Netanyahu was considering donating vaccines to developing countries. Among these countries is one with which it does not have diplomatic relations, yet it would donate the vaccines in exchange for normalisation.