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Palestinians wait for vaccines as Israel lauds immunisation drive (Financial Times) 

Mehul Srivastava writes: "When coronavirus came to the Holy Land last spring, Israelis and Palestinians suffered alike as dysfunctional governments imposed harsh lockdowns that crippled their economies and hospitals on both sides filled with patients."

"Then last month, Israel began the world’s speediest coronavirus vaccination campaign, handing out first jabs of a two-shot BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine to more than 1m citizens. Millions more are planned."

"Next door, in the West Bank, occupied by the Israeli military, and in Gaza, blockaded by the same forces, millions of Palestinians waited for their turn. They are still waiting."

“Israel should have been procuring enough for the nearly 5m Palestinians that live under its control, and it specifically didn’t,” said Diana Buttu, a Palestinian lawyer who has previously worked with President Mahmoud Abbas on negotiations with Israel. “It’s healthcare apartheid.”
 
COVID-19: Benjamin Netanyahu blames Israel's spike in coronavirus cases on 'British mutation' (Sky News)

Mark Stone writes: "The Israeli prime minister's comments come as the country is placed under strict lockdown measures for a third time."

The Israeli prime minister said the pandemic was "spreading at top speed with the British mutation" as his government placed the country under stricter lockdown measures for the third time.

"It [the British mutation] has reached Israel and is claiming many lives. We need to impose a full lockdown immediately," said Mr Netanyahu."

"Health minister Yuli Edelstein echoed the prime minister's comments, warning that the country was in the midst of a worrying new outbreak with the infection rate double what it was at the start of the last national lockdown in September."

"The country currently has 58,932 active coronavirus cases and has recorded 3,496 related deaths - and hospitals are again close to being overwhelmed."
Why has the EU hired an Israeli propagandist? (Electronic Intifada)

David Cronin writes: "Ahren has just started a new job as the spokesperson for Emanuele Giaufret, the European Union’s ambassador in Tel Aviv."

"Giauftet happens to be the very same ambassador who Ahren – then working for The Times of Israel website – helped embarrass last year."

"When another EU representative suggested that Palestinians sympathetic toward blacklisted organizations may benefit from aid under certain circumstances, Giaufret was “summoned” by Israel’s foreign ministry for “an unusually harsh rebuke,” Ahren stated."

"Ahren was not simply reporting on an allegation. He was lending credence to a smear campaign by Israel and its lobbying network, which have long depicted EU funding of Palestinian organizations as support for “terrorism.”

"The hiring of Ahren signals that there are few limits to the EU’s cravenness. Even when Israelis try to tarnish the reputation of their envoys, the EU hugs them tight."

A Women’s Boxing Team Grows in Gaza (The Nation)

Dave Zirin writes: "In the midst of extreme privation, a new team in Gaza offers something like hope."

"The Israeli government has continued its 14-year blockade against Gaza for reasons beyond the military and the strategic. The blockade—alongside bombings and selective assassinations—also accomplishes the political and ideological goal of killing hope. It crushes the aspirations that Palestinian people might have for justice, self-determination, or even a better life."

"That’s what makes sports so potent and popular among young people in Gaza. When playing soccer or basketball—two extremely popular pastimes—they feel that another world may indeed be possible."

"That is why I found it to be potent, powerful, and profoundly moving to learn that, for the first time, there is a women’s and girl’s boxing program in Gaza. Such a team has the capacity to build the reserves of hope and in addition smash gender norms as well as knockout the very idea of passivity."

GO DEEPER

Palestine: 2020 in Review (IMEU

The Institute for Middle East Undestanding (IMEU) gives a round up of 2020 in Palestine: 
 

"President Donald Trump continued showering Israel’s far right-government with gifts at the expense of Palestinian human rights, including:

"In January, Trump released a plan for Palestine/Israel that gave Israel advance approval to annex about 30% of the occupied Palestinian West Bank in violation of international law. It followed Trump’s previous recognition of Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem, including the eastern Palestinian section of the city occupied by Israel since 1967, and the Syrian Golan Heights, in flagrant violation of international law and longstanding US policy prior to Trump." 

"Brokered a series of deals “normalizing” relations between Israel and other authoritarian, human rights-abusing governments in the region and beyond, including the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco. The deals involved sales of advanced US weapons and other incentives and were designed to give Israelis the benefits of peace while they continue to deny millions of Palestinians their freedom and basic rights."

"Attempted to smear and suppress the grassroots boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign for Palestinian rights by labeling BDS anti-semitic, possibly threatening funding for Palestinian and other human rights organizations..." 
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