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Israel loosens covid restrictions, while Palestinians experience third wave of virus

Israel has lifted a public mask mandate and fully reopened its education system in the latest easing of coronavirus restrictions following its mass vaccination drive

April 19, 2021 at 3:14 pm

Israel has lifted orders for masks to be worn outside after about 56 per cent of the population has been fully vaccinated, Reuters reports.

Health Minister, Yuli Edelstein, urged people to continue carrying masks with them for entry into indoor public spaces, where they are still required.

Meanwhile, Israelis who wish to return to the country but who have not yet been vaccinated must still self-isolate, while foreign travellers’ entry is being limited over concerns virus variants could challenge the vaccine.

“We are leading the world right now when it comes to emerging from the coronavirus,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters. “[But] we have still not finished with the coronavirus. It can return.”

Daily new coronavirus infections in Israel have fallen from a peak of 10,000 in January to around 100 more recently.

Vaccine uptake in the territories occupied by Israel, however, has not been so high, as occupation authorities have not provided inoculations to Palestinians living under their brutal regime.

Human rights organisations have argued that international law requires Israel to provide Palestinians with similar access to vaccines as its own citizens as an occupying power. Many have said this “Israel’s vaccine apartheid”.

The besieged Gaza Strip yesterday recorded the highest number of COVID-19 fatalities, the Palestinian Ministry of Health in the coastal enclave said.

According to the daily briefing issued by the ministry, 23 people died from coronavirus and there were 446 new infections.

READ: Israel prevents non-vaccinated Palestinians from entering Al-Aqsa Mosque