The Gaza Health Ministry has held Israel responsible for the expiry of 50,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccine recently delivered to the besieged coastal enclave.
In a statement carried by Arab48 news website on Monday night, the ministry said the vaccines had been kept in inappropriate conditions and Israeli authorities had prevented the consignment from reaching Gaza in time.
The vaccines – of Russia’s single-dose Sputnik Light type – had entered Gaza through the Karem Abu Salem crossing, but safety tests showed they had all expired, the statement read.
Earlier, Israeli media reported that the regime intended to give the Covid-19 vaccines which were nearing expiration to the Palestinian Authority, following which authorities in Ramallah said they had cancelled the contract.
According to latest figures, 147,368 Palestinians have been infected with Covid-19 in Gaza and 1,228 people have died.
Only around 354,000 people have so far been vaccinated in Gaza, home to some two million Palestinians.
A third wave of coronavirus is surging through the Gaza Strip.
Israel has failed to fulfil its obligation to provide Covid-19 vaccines to the Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank and the blockaded Gaza Strip.
The regime, however, has fully vaccinated the majority of its adult population and is currently offering booster shots to people above 12 years of age.
On Sunday, Israeli health ministry director general Nachman Ash said the Zionist regime is making preparations to ensure it has sufficient vaccine supply in case a fourth round of Covid-19 shots is needed.
‘We don’t know when it will happen; I hope very much that it won’t be within six months, like this time, and that the third dose will last for longer,’ he said in an interview with Radio 103FM.
Meanwhile, the Commission for Prisoners Affairs at the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) said 1,380 Palestinian prisoners will begin an open-ended hunger strike tomorrow, Friday, in protest at escalating Israeli violence against them.
The Palestinian Captive Movement said Palestinian people and factions would take massive steps if the Israeli violations persisted against the inmates.
The commission said in a statement on Monday that serious abuses of the inmates come not only as a result of decisions by Israeli prison officials but also at the order of regime authorities, especially after the recent escape from Gilboa prison.
The statement said a total of 400 Palestinian prisoners will go on hunger strike in Ramon prison.
They will be joined by another 300, 200 and 100 inmates in Ofer, Nafha and Megiddo detention centres respectively.
Others will join the strike from Gilboa, Eshel, Shatta and Hadarim jails.
The commission went on to note that more Palestinian prisoners will participate in the strike on September 21, among them 100 senior detained political leaders, including Marwan Barghouti and Karim Younis.
The Palestinian detainees are reportedly demanding the Israeli regime end its violations against them, stop solitary confinement, and scrap the administrative detention policy to arrest and hold Palestinians without charges.
They are also demanding the resumption of family visits, installation of public phones, and the re-entry of fruits, vegetables, and meat into prisons.
The commission appealed to international human rights groups to intervene, and force Israel to stop its serious violations against Palestinian detainees, including torture, solitary confinement, administrative detention, and physical assaults by prison guards.
The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) has called on the International Red Cross to pay an immediate visit to the prisoners to ensure their health and safety.
In the predawn hours of September 6, Zakaria Zubeidi, a former commander of the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade in Jenin and five Islamic Jihad members tunnelled their way out through their cell’s drainage system and escaped from Gilboa prison.
Israeli prison officials were alerted by farmers who noticed them running through fields.
Four of the Islamic Jihad members were serving life sentences, while the fifth had been held without charge for two years under a so-called administrative detention order, according to Israeli media.
On Saturday, Israeli media outlets reported that four of the escapees had been arrested in the northern part of the occupied territories.
A Palestinian prisoners’ advocacy group has issued an ultimatum for Israel to quit repressive measures against inmates in the wake of the escape by six inmates from a high-security Israeli prison.
Addressing a pro-prisoner sit-in outside the Red Cross headquarters in Gaza City on Monday, Ibrahim Mansour, a senior official from the Palestinian Captive Movement, said Palestinian people and factions would take massive steps if the Israeli violations persisted against the inmates.
Mansour gave the Israel Prison Service (IPS) until September 17 to revoke the punitive measures against those languishing behind bars in the Israeli jail, adding, ‘The prisoners will start an open-ended battle as of Friday if Israeli jailers do not respond to their demand.’
For his part, senior Hamas official Mushir al-Masri described the issue of the prisoners as a top priority for the Palestinian nation.
In the predawn hours of September 6, at least six Palestinian prisoners escaped from a high-security Israeli prison. Five of them belong to the Palestinian resistance movement Islamic Jihad, coming from towns near the northern West Bank city of Jenin.
Israeli authorities announced they had arrested Zakaria Zubeidi, Mohammad Arda, Mahmoud Arda, and Yacoub Qadri across the occupied West Bank in recent days.
Emerging reports indicate that they were severely beaten and that the Israel Prison Service (IPS) has sent many Palestinian prisoners into solitary confinement and restricted their access to essential services.
The PPS has called on the International Red Cross to pay an immediate visit to the prisoners to ensure their health and safety.
Separately, the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates in a statement called on the international community, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and the United Nations to follow up on the conditions of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails.
The ministry demanded that the humanitarian organisations ensure the inmates are not subject to torture and abuse, and compel Israel to implement the Third Geneva Convention, related to the treatment of prisoners.
Since last week, thousands of Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli prisons have been facing a repressive campaign following the escape of the six inmates.
‘Israel’s decision to impose additional forms of collective punishment on the 4,600 Palestinians it unlawfully detains, including women and children, as well as their families, exacerbate the conditions of their illegal and inhumane incarceration. It is an outrageous and unacceptable indignity that is utterly incompatible with its obligations under international law,’ read the statement.
‘The State of Palestine holds Israel … fully responsible for the health and well-being of Palestinian detainees, including, Zakaria Zubeidi, who was rushed to a medical centre in Haifa for medical treatment after he sustained extreme beating by Israeli police, especially in his face.’
- A prosecution witness in the corruption trial of former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu was killed after his light private aircraft crashed into the sea close to the Greek island of Samos, Greek authorities say.
Greek authorities are investigating the Monday crash that killed Haim Geron, the deputy director of the Communications Ministry and a prosecution witness in Netanyahu’s trial, and his wife, Esti.
The plane was flying from the occupied territories to the Greek island with Geron and his wife on board, both aged 69, and crashed close to the island’s airport.
Netanyahu is on trial for three corruption cases of alleged bribery, fraud, and breach of trust. He is accused of receiving extravagant gifts from his billionaire friends and granting media tycoons regulatory favours in return for more agreeable coverage of himself and his family.
Netanyahu, now the opposition leader in the Israeli parliament, has denied all accusations and mocked the size of the witness list.
Geron was among more than 300 witnesses that prosecutors have listed for Netanyahu’s trial.
Officials said on Tuesday that Greece’s Air Accident Investigation and Aviation Board was investigating the causes of the crash.
‘Shortly before landing, communication with the control tower on Samos was lost and the Civil Aviation Authority informed the search and rescue centre about the loss of communication,’ the authority said in a statement.