Gaza's Hamas authorities stage jab lottery to boost vaccinations

Gaza City (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) –


Authorities in the Islamist Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip launched a lottery on Monday aimed at encouraging Palestinians to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, with winnings of up to $3,000.

The enclave of some two million people has seen an upsurge in infections of the more contagious Delta variant of Covid-19 in recent days.

So far, around 135,000 Gazans have had two vaccine jabs. The territory has received some 336,000 doses but many people remain reluctant to get inoculated.

As an incentive, the health ministry said those aged 55 and above who enter the lottery from Wednesday are in with a chance of winning 10,000 shekels (over $3,000).

A daily draw will also see 10 newly vaccinated people win the equivalent of $200.

The poverty rate in the coastal territory exceeds the 50 percent mark.

Ashraf al-Qudra, the ministry spokesman, said the names of the lottery's main three 10,000-shekel winners would be announced in a month's time.

He told reporters the initiative should encourage Gazans "to save their lives".

The Hamas authorities also announced mandatory vaccination for all civil servants, a measure already taken in the occupied West Bank, which too has seen a surge in infections and where the Palestinian Authority holds sway.

Of more than 204,700 coronavirus infections officially recorded in the West Bank, where 2.8 million Palestinians live, around 2,500 people have died.

The Gaza Strip, which has been under an Israeli blockade since 2007, has seen more than 122,520 infections and 1,125 deaths.