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Amnesty: An occupying power, Israel must provide Palestinians with covid vaccine

January 6, 2021 at 2:38 pm

Galss bottles with Covid-19 vaccine are seen as elderly people and workers receive a Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine at Mishan Efal Nursing Home, in Tel Aviv on 23 December 2020 [Nir Keidar/Anadolu Agency]

Amnesty International today called on Israel to start providing coronavirus vaccine doses to Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.

In the occupied West Bank, the vaccination drive includes only those living in Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law, and not the Palestinian population.

The international organisation called on Israel to “stop ignoring its international obligations as an occupying power and immediately act to ensure that Covid-19 vaccines are equally and fairly provided to Palestinians living under its occupation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.”

Saleh Higazi, deputy regional director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International, said: “The Israeli government must uphold its obligations as the occupying power, under international humanitarian law and human rights law, to provide the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health to the population of the OPT without discrimination.”

“The views of marginalised groups must be at the forefront of any decision-making to ensure that national vaccine policies aren’t exclusionary or discriminatory. All states must confront existing inequalities to ensure everyone has access to vaccines.”

Palestinian Health Minister Mai Al-Kaila said Palestine today recorded 1,088 new coronavirus cases and 14 deaths.

The situation is even more dire in the besieged Gaza Strip. According to Wafa news agency, among the new 1,088 cases, 478 cases were recorded in the occupied West Bank and 610 others in  Gaza.

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This comes as a group of around 200 rabbis signed a petition by the Rabbis for Human Rights organisation calling on the Israeli government to distribute coronavirus vaccines to the Palestinian population in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.

Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, the former senior rabbi to Reform Judaism in the UK and a past chairwoman of British Rabbis for Human Rights, said the vaccination needs of the Palestinians “goes to the core of who we are as Jews,” and that Israel had a moral obligation to assist them during the pandemic.

She added that the Israeli government should work “closely and collaboratively” with the Palestinian Authority to assist it in the distribution of the vaccines when they arrive.