IT is a third the size of Scotland but Israel is proving to be the Promised Land for Covid-19 vaccinations.

As Scotland tries to put a timescale on when it can vaccinate all its 5.5 million populace, the Middle Eastern country remains on course to inject all of its 9.3 million population within weeks.

More than one and a half million Israelis have already received their injection and they have set the end of February as a target for treating everyone in the country.

Israel began its programme on ­December 20 when it set itself a goal of 150,000 vaccinations a day.

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And Israel Prime Minister ­Benjamin Netanyahu issued the bold pledge: “If everyone is vaccinated quicker we will thereby restore life to the normality that we knew ­quicker, especially the economy. We will ­invest more resources and efforts in order to restore what was.

“If everybody cooperates, both in strictly adhering to the rules and in being vaccinated, we will emerge from this and it is very likely that Israel will be the first country in the world to do so.”

And it has made giant strides with its elderly population with two out of three over-65s already having had their first doses.

With Israel racing ahead towards the vaccination finishing line the rest of the world is looking on enviously and asking how they have done it.

The country already has close links with Pfizer which Ran Nir-Paz, an associate professor of infectious diseases at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem believes may result in it becoming “a test case, a kind of proof of concept to show that the vaccines work”.

It has also accepted that if it is a question of cost then they will shell out on it with one Israeli official reportedly saying they were “paying around $30 per vaccine dose, or around twice the price abroad.”

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein defended the strategy, saying: “What we basically said to Pfizer and Moderna and to the others was that if we will be one of the first countries to start vaccinating, very soon these companies will be able to see the results.

“It’s a kind of win-win situation. We are a small country. And I knew for a fact that we better be one of the first on the ground because after the vaccine is developed, the companies, commercially speaking, wouldn’t even look in the direction of countries Israel’s size.”

Israel’s casualty figures have been low throughout the crisis. It has suffered just 3500 Covid deaths compared to Scotland’s near 5000 deaths despite having twice the population.

Netanyahu has been claiming his approach to the pandemic as a ­success as he looks towards a ­national ­election, in March.

He has made no apology for his bullish and nationalistic tone and has willingly provoked others where he feels it affects his own country.

Defending his decision to place ­Israel into a third national lockdown he pointed the finger at Britain for spreading the virus.

“[The pandemic] is spreading at top speed with the British mutation. It has reached Israel and is claiming many lives.”

He was backed up by ­Professor Dror Mevorach, director of the ­Covid-19 ward at the Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem in Jerusalem who said: “The situation is truly a state of emergency. The disease is spreading at a speed that we’ve never seen before.”

Israel remains steadfast though in its determination not to let the new variant of the coronavirus steer it off its path with its combination of strict regulations and widescale and prompt roll-out of vaccinations.

They will complement the Pfizer vaccine with the Moderna vaccine which does not require the ultra-cold storage which Pfizer does.

Israel’s health infrastructure has also been praised with national ­identity cards helping to speed up the process and the roll-out modelled on the annual nationwide vaccination programme.

Ido Hadari, Maccabi Healthcare Services director of government ­relations, said this allowed them to separate the ill at healthcare ­facilities from those simply seeking the ­vaccine.

He added: “Governments don’t know how to do this. This isn’t a clinical issue, this is a service issue, a documentation and patient-flow issue.”

Doctors at Maccabi estimated that they could vaccinate and document a patient in about seven minutes, and set up a quick turn-around appointment system. While Israel draws admiring glances for its vaccination numbers it is being scrutinised over Palestinians in its territories.

Amnesty International questioned if Israel was being even-handed in its distribution of the roll-out, saying that it was confined to citizens of ­Israel, including Israeli settlers living inside the West Bank, and Palestinian ­residents of Jerusalem.

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But that it excludes the nearly five million Palestinians, roughly the population of Scotland, who live in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, under Israeli military occupation.

Saleh Higazi, deputy regional ­director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International, said: “Israel’s Covid-19 vaccine programme highlights the institutionalised discrimination that defines the Israeli government’s policy towards Palestinians.

“While Israel celebrates a record-setting vaccination drive, millions of Palestinians living under Israeli ­control in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip will receive no vaccine or have to wait much longer – there could hardly be a better illustration of how Israeli lives are valued above Palestinian ones.”

There have been nearly 1600 deaths related to Covid-19 among Palestinians in the Occupied Territories.