Israel is reporting just fifteen new daily coronavirus cases in the last week — its lowest count in more than a year, after a successful vaccine rollout.
The fall in infections has encouraged Israeli businesses to return to full capacity. Residents are no longer required to carry proof of their Covid jabs as they visit restaurants, sporting events, or entertainment venues.
With diminishing covid infections, Israel health officials say mask-wearing inside public spaces could end as early as next week.
On Tuesday, the Israel health ministry announced the removal of Green Pass and Purple Badge restrictions. Under the Green Pass system, people were allowed to access public spaces such as restaurants and gyms, only if they showed proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test.
The lifting of Purple Badge restrictions will enable all establishments to resume all normal activities, without any restrictions on occupancy ratios or gatherings. These relaxation measures will extend to workplaces and public transportation.
Since its vaccine rollout in December 2020, Israel delivered more than 10 million doses within 4 months. By April 19, this year, 54 per cent of the entire Israeli population of 9·1 million people, and 88 per cent of people aged 50 years or older, had received two doses. With a surplus of vaccines, the country even moved on to vaccinating non-vulnerable groups.
Other factors which contributed to Israel’s rapid vaccine rollout include “its small geographical and population sizes; advanced information technology that allowed prioritisation, allocation, and documentation of vaccines for eligible individuals,” the Lancet reported.
In contrast, only 6 per cent of the total Palestinian population has received at least one dose of the covid-19 vaccine.
Under Article 56 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, the Occupying Power has the duty of ensuring and maintaining, with the cooperation of national and local authorities, “the medical and hospital establishments and services, public health and hygiene in the occupied territory, with particular reference to the adoption and application of the prophylactic and preventive measures necessary to combat the spread of contagious diseases and epidemics.”
Earlier in the year, Medecin Sans Frontiere said, “In Israel, you’re 60 times more likely to have a COVID vaccine than in Palestine.”Human rights organisations have called on Israel to give Palestinians vaccines right away.
Israel’s vaccination campaign has effectively ended and the country’s vaccination rate is being put to the test by mass gatherings. The vast vaccine inequities between Israel and Palestine could mean that a new strain could have consequences, scientists have warned.