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Israel delivers COVID-19 vaccines to Palestinians and Central America

JERUSALEM, Feb 23 (.) – Israel is delivering a “symbolic” amount of surplus COVID-19 vaccines to Palestinians and several countries, including Guatemala and Honduras, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said on Tuesday and authorities of the Central American nations.

The Honduran government assured that it will receive 5,000 doses of Moderna’s vaccine against COVID-19 from Israel to be allocated to the health personnel most exposed to the coronavirus. A Honduran air force plane arrived in Tel Aviv in search of the cargo and will return to Tegucigalpa late Thursday.

Later, the Guatemalan government confirmed that it will also receive the same number of doses and thanked “the people of Israel for this very valuable gesture.” The vaccines will be applied to the health personnel of the Central American nation.

These would be the first doses that both countries would receive to start their vaccination campaigns.

The government of Honduras has a close link with that of Israel. Last year, the Juan Orlando Hernández administration assured that it would move its embassy from Israel to Jerusalem, a diplomatic triumph for the Jewish state.

NO VACCINES IN CISJORDAN

Israel regards all of Jerusalem as its capital, although most countries do not recognize it. The Palestinians demand East Jerusalem, which Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war, as the capital of a future independent state. Israel has been importing Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. According to the Health Ministry, it has administered at least one dose of Pfizer to nearly 50% of its 9 million residents, as well as to Palestinians in East Jerusalem. The country is one of the countries that has administered the most doses in the world for every 100 inhabitants.

However, it has come under foreign criticism for failing to provide the same to Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

This month, the Palestinians received an initial shipment of Modern vaccines from Israel and also began administering Russia’s Sputnik V vaccines in Gaza and the West Bank.

An Israeli official said that on Monday Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and his US counterpart, Antony Blinken, discussed the matter.

Ashkenazi updated him on the amount of vaccines transferred to Gaza and the West Bank, and the vaccination of Palestinian workers in Israel, the official said.

The statement from Netanyahu’s office said that the vaccines donated by Israel were an accumulated surplus over the past month. Describing the donations as symbolic, he added that they would be used by the medical staff of foreign recipients.

(Report by Dan Williams in Jerusalem; Additional report by Gustavo Palencia in Tegucigalpa and Sofía Menchú in Guatemala City; Edited in Spanish by Gabriela Donoso and Diego Oré)

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