The Palestinian government on Tuesday condemned Israel’s blocking of coronavirus vaccines into the blockaded Gaza Strip.
“Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh called on the WHO to stand by its obligations and work towards the entry of the vaccines into the Gaza Strip,” government spokesman Ibrahim Melhem told a press conference.
Health Minister Mai al-Kaila, for her part, said her ministry sent 2,000 doses of the Russian Sputnik-V vaccine to Gaza.
“The [Israeli] occupation, however, refused to let the vaccines into the coastal enclave,” al-Kaila said in statements cited by the official Wafa news agency.
Al-Kaila pointed out that the vaccines were intended for medical staff working in the intensive care units designated for COVID-19 patients, and the teams working in emergency departments. The doses were the first batch of coronavirus vaccines to Gaza, which is ruled by Hamas group.
The health sector in Gaza suffers from a severe shortage of medicines and medical supplies due to the 15 years of the Israeli blockade, which undermines the chances of facing the spread of the virus.
On Feb. 4, the Health Ministry received 10,000 doses of the Sputnik-V vaccine and confirmed that a new batch of vaccines would arrive in Palestine within the upcoming days without specifying the dates.
As of Monday, the total number of coronavirus infections in Palestine reached 190,316, including 2,133 fatalities. Gaza confirmed 53,593 cases, including 537 deaths.
*Bassel Barakat contributed to this report from Ankara