The Palestinian Authority has confirmed that batches of the first Covid-19 vaccines it received did not go to Palestinian healthcare workers as pledged but were instead allocated to government officials, the Jordanian royal court and the Palestinian national football team.
Amidst growing public anger at the PA’s handling of the vaccination rollout, calls are now growing among Palestinians for greater transparency. The PA Health Ministry had previously said that the first doses it received would be given to healthcare workers and then to the elderly and other at-risk groups.
Vaccines were reportedly given to PA government ministers, Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee members over 65, senior security officials working for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, and officials from the Central Elections Committee. It is understood that as a PLO Executive Committee member, President Abbas has received a vaccination. A further 200 vaccines were discretely allocated to the Jordanian royal court following a request to Ramallah.
The PA Health Ministry has stated that the Palestinian national football team were vaccinated after being invited to play a game abroad, and vaccination was a condition for participation.
Palestinian NGO Aman – Transparency Palestine has reportedly criticised the PA for “nepotism, [and] selfishness”. It claimed the PA “keeps providing conflicting information and statements, which indicates poor management of the battle against Covid-19 virus, pending international sympathy in providing the vaccines…”
According to the Times of Israel, one Palestinian commentator on the PA Health Ministry Facebook page posted: “Israel, the occupation state, has far more respect for and fear of its own people than you. It even cares more for Arab workers… all you’ve done is inflict corruption and nepotism on us”.
Around 12,000 vaccines have reached Ramallah so far, including 2,000 Moderna vaccines sent by Israel to vaccinate medical staff, and another 10,000 Russian Sputnik V vaccines sent as a donation by Russian president Vladimir Putin. The Palestinian Authority sent around 2,000 Sputnik vaccines to Gaza, facilitated by Israel.