JERUSALEM - Gaza will receive its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines on Wednesday after Israel approved the transfer via its territory, Israeli and Palestinian officials said.

Gaza, which has a population of two million, has reported more than 53,000 cases of the coronavirus and 538 deaths. Palestinian officials said the shipment would include enough doses to inoculate 1,000 people.

Shipment, via Israel, of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine by the Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank to Hamas Islamist-run Gaza had drawn criticism from right-wing Israeli politicians. Palestinian officials, blaming Israel, said a transfer planned for Monday had been cancelled.  

COGAT, an Israeli liaison office with the Palestinians, and Palestinian health ministry officials said on Wednesday the vaccine was on its way to the Gaza border and would enter the territory later in the day.


(Reporting by Maayan Lubell and Nidal al-Mughrabi; Editing by Jeffrey Heller) ((;))